Country Information

Officially known as the Republic of France, this Western European country is comprised of beautiful country living, as well as state-of-the-art urban centers. The country is renowned for being a global authority in art, science and philosophy. France has an incredibly diversified economy that mixes a competitive private sector with generous state-run and managed enterprises. This diversification, coupled with its location, create a business friendly opportunity for businesses considering expansion in the region.

Employment Contracts

Employment contracts in France are most often for an indefinite term, although there are a number of other types that are used in specific situations. It should be written. Several types of employment contracts, most significantly fixed-term contracts, must always be in writing, and while a written contract is not always required, it is recommended in almost all cases. All written contracts should be in the French language, and an employee who does not understand French should receive a copy in their own language. Since an indefinite term contract is not specifically required to be in writing, there is no mandatory form, but it must include certain terms and conditions. If the employee will be subject to a probation period, it must be specified in the employment contract. Collective bargaining agreements may have different rules regarding probationary periods. While contracts with an indefinite term are the default and the preferred type of contract, employers can use fixed-term contracts, part-time contracts, temporary contracts, or apprenticeship contracts when appropriate, or follow a collective bargaining agreement. Fixed-term contracts must always be in writing.

Working Hours

The standard workweek is 35 hours and capped at 48 hours in a single week, with an average of no more than 44 hours over a 12-week period. A contract or collective agreement may extend the 12-week average to 46 hours per week. The working day may not be longer than 10 hours, although a contract or collective agreement may extend this to 12 hours. These limits do not apply to some executives and white collar employees. Most other employees may be required to work over 35 hours per week, but they must be compensated for the extra hours, generally with additional vacation time. In practice, because of a mid-day break, the standard French workday is actually longer than in many countries, typically beginning between 8:00 and 9:00 AM and ending at 6:00 PM or later, with a break of an hour or more in the middle of the day from roughly 12:30-2:00 P.M. Employees must receive a period of 35 consecutive hours of rest over seven consecutive days. Overtime is capped at 220 hours a year and the workweek cannot exceed 48 hours, including overtime, which is paid based on percentages of income. A collective agreement may set a higher or lower overtime rate. Night work is work performed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. The duration of night work is set by a collective agreement, but may not exceed eight hours in a 24 hour period or 40 hours on average over a 12-week period. Employees in France have the “right to disconnect” from work outside of standard office hours, including not checking answering or sending emails.

Sick Leave

Employees receive up to a year of sick leave and this can be extended by two years. Employees must provide a medical certificate within a day of illness and typically a collective bargaining agreement ensures that sick pay is fully paid.

Maternity/Paternity Leave

Female employees receive 16 weeks of paid maternity leave with six weeks before the birth. This increases to 34 weeks for twins with 12 weeks before the birth and 46 weeks for triplets with 24 weeks before the birth. The leave can by extended by six additional weeks in case of a pregnancy related illness. If the birth of a child brings the total number of children to three or more, the female employee receives 26 weeks of paid maternity leave, with eight weeks before the birth. Paternity leave is required for fathers.

Compensation

France’s minimum wage changes annually. Bonuses are common in France. Discretionary bonuses are difficult to award in practice because of laws which require employees in equivalent jobs to be treated equally, with the employer needing to provide an objective justification for any differences.

Vacation Leave

Employees receive 30 working days of paid leave per year, accrued at the rate of two and a half days per month from June 1st to May 31st of the following year. Some overtime can be converted to as much as two extra days of leave per month, and collective agreements may also set different rules regarding leave. Employees who are over 21 and have dependents and who have not yet completed a full year of service are entitled to two extra days of leave per child, up to the maximum 30 days of leave per year. The employer may or may not allow vacation to be taken at any time during the year.

Public Holidays
  • New Year’s Day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • Labor Day
  • WWII Victory Day
  • Ascension Day
  • Whit Monday
  • Bastille Day
  • Assumption of Mary
  • All Saint’s Day
  • Armistice Day
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day
Health Insurance Benefits

France provides universal healthcare.

Employment / Termination / Severance

The probation period is around two months, or four months for senior positions while fixed-term contracts are capped at 18 months including renewals. The notice period is one month for up to two years of service and then two months beyond that. Severance pay is a percentage of monthly salary based on years of service. Often probation periods, notice periods and severance pay depend on collective bargaining agreements. Terminating employment contracts requires serious grounds for dismissal, such as poor performance, misconduct and incompetence. The employers must give employees five days written notice in a hand delivered or registered letter to arrange a meeting to discuss the termination.

Local Laws & Regulations

We understand that local laws and regulations change and sourcing an accurate reference guide is not easy. Our data is researched and verified by our team of local international Employment Attorneys, HR and Benefit Professionals and Tax Accountants through our Atlas team and consultants, to ensure information up-to-date and accurate.

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Partnering with Atlas when expanding into France, can dramatically reduce the standard brick and mortar processes of doing business in foreign markets and allow you to focus on what you do best, growing your company! To discover more about how Atlas can simplify your ability to expand globally, please feel free to contact us.
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