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Officially known as the Republic of France, this Western European country offers both beautiful country living and state-of-the-art urban centers. France is renowned for being a global authority in art, science and philosophy. It also has an incredibly diversified economy that is one of the largest in the world, mixing a competitive private sector with generous state-run and managed enterprises. France has robust retail and fashion sectors and is the world’s most popular tourist destination, welcoming more than 80 million visitors each year. It also produces electronics and pharmaceuticals, as well as world-acclaimed food and beverages. This diversification, coupled with France’s location and highly skilled workforce, creates a business-friendly opportunity for businesses considering expansion in Europe.

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. The contract 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. Because 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.

The standard workweek in France 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. Overtime is capped at 220 hours a year and is paid based on percentages of income.

Employees are entitled to paid sick leave after working for at least 1 year in France. The Labor Code, however, does not mention a specific number of days of sick leave. If the illness requires an absence from work, an employee's doctor must provide a sick leave certificate (avis d'arrêt de travail), which has to be forwarded to the Social Security authorities and the employer within 48 hours of the original medical appointment; otherwise, the employee may risk losing the right to paid medical leave. Social Security funds the allowance for sick leave, but employers may choose to pay additional sick pay.

Female employees receive 16 weeks of paid maternity leave in France 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. Paternity leave is required for fathers.

France has a national minimum wage. Bonuses are common in France.

Employees in France receive 30 working days of paid leave per year, accrued at the rate of two and a half days per month from June 1 to May 31 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 determine when vacations are taken.

In France, the public holidays are:

  • New Year's Day

  • Easter Monday

  • Labor Day / May Day

  • WWII Victory Day

  • Ascension Day

  • Whit Monday

  • Bastille Day

  • Assumption of Mary

  • All Saints' Day

  • Armistice Day

  • Christmas Day

France provides universal healthcare.

The probation period in France 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.

  • Partner with atlas logo

    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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