Country Information

Navigating French Employment Regulations

October 23, 2023

In an era where the international business landscape is continuously changing, staying informed of legal and regulatory changes is important for businesses to stay ahead. This is especially true in France, where recent updates in employment law can significantly impact both employers and employees.

For businesses aiming to expand their presence in the French market or hire talent within the country, understanding these changes is essential. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore French employment law including employment relationships, work regulations, workplace equality, and benefits compensation in the French employment landscape.

Employment Relationships

In France, the concept of "at-will employment" does not exist as it does in some other countries, such as the United States. The laws in France are strict about what constitutes "just cause" for terminating an employment agreement. Typically, dismissal is considered a last resort, and employers must explore alternative solutions before considering termination. The maximum allowed probation period in France is 4 months, but can be extended for an additional 4 months, totaling 8 months.

Work Hours and Overtime Regulations

The standard workweek in France is a maximum of 35 hours per week. However, it can be extended up to 39 working hours due to overtime regulations and RTT (RĂ©duction du Temps de Travail. For example, an employee may receive 10 days of RTT per year or 4 hours of RTT for a 39-hour workweek.

Hours worked beyond the limit are paid as overtime: the % increase in pay is generally agreed as part of a collective bargaining agreement, or if this does not exist, the following rules apply:

  • First 8 hours/week: +25%
  • 9th+ hours/week: +50%

Minimum Wage and Compensation

The minimum wage is often determined by collective bargaining agreements. Our current collective bargaining agreement (as of March 2022) has a minimum of wage EUR 1,811 per month. Understanding the nuances of such compensations, including bonuses and allowances, is essential for businesses to manage their labor costs effectively.

Workplace Equality and Anti-Discrimination Laws

French employment law strongly defends the principle of equality in the workplace. Employees are protected from discrimination during employment and the recruitment process, regardless of their employment status or contract type.

The French labor code offers extensive protection against discrimination, covering a wide range of characteristics, including race, age, sexual orientation, religion, gender identity, family status (including pregnancy), morals, political opinions, trade union membership, surname, physical appearance, non-French language proficiency, place of residence, financial situation, ethnic affiliation, and genetic traits, among others.

Violating these anti-discrimination statutes can incur severe civil and criminal penalties. An individual accused of discrimination can be personally fined up to EUR 45,000 and face up to three years in prison, while the implicated business can incur fines up to EUR 225,000.

Breakdown of Taxes in France

The taxation landscape in France is characterized by its complexity, with around 20 different social contributions, each with their own percentages and caps. Employee contributions are often straightforward, with social security contributions hovering around 21% of the gross salary.

Employers, however, encounter a more multifaceted landscape. The social security contributions average 24% of the gross salary. This is further increased by pension contributions (15%), unemployment benefits (4%), and other employer costs (9%). These contributions fund a range of social services, including family benefits, health, disability, death, social security, transportation tax, and accident at work provisions.

Other Employer Costs are usually not shown on payslips but are expenses that all companies in the country have to cover.

  • CSE (statutory bureau of elected employees)
  • CVAE (corporate tax based on turnover)
  • Occupational Medicine (statutory cover)
  • Travel and repatriation insurance
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance
  • C3S and CFE (Local tax contribution)
  • AGEFIPH (tax on non employment of handicapped personnel)
  • Membership to collective bargaining (price is based on the turnover and headcounts)

Social Services and Benefits

France's social benefit landscape extends beyond statutory requirements, showcasing the nation’s commitment to enhancing the quality of life for its workforce. Medical insurance is obligatory, with both employer and employee sharing the cost. This mutual investment demonstrates a shared commitment to employee well-being, creating a workplace where they thrive both physically and mentally.

Social Security covers:

  • Family Benefits
  • Health, Disability, Death, Social Security
  • Transportation tax
  • Private Medical Insurance (statutory benefit)
  • Private Life insurance (statutory benefit)
  • Social Charges (SolidaritĂ© Autonomie)
  • Accident at Work
  • Wage guarantee fund
  • Old age insurance
  • Professional training tax

Employee Leave Policies in France

The generosity of the French leave policies is another testament to the nation’s commitment to employee well-being. Annually, employees are entitled to a minimum of 25 paid days off per year, with additional allowances for sick, maternity, and paternity leave, ensuring that life’s pivotal moments are not marred by financial worries.

Sick leave, for instance, is comprehensive, with employees entitled to up to 6 months’ absence under specific conditions. Maternity leave is equally generous, offering 16 weeks of leave, ensuring that mothers have enough time to bond with their newborns without the pressures of the workplace.

There are 11 public holidays in France:

  • 1st January  - New Year’s Day
  • 10th April - Easter Monday
  • 1st May - Labour Day
  • 8th May - Victory Day
  • 18th May - Ascension Day
  • 29th May - Whit Monday
  • 14th July - Bastille Day
  • 15th August - Assumption Day
  • 1st November - All Saint’s Day
  • 11th November - Armistice Day
  • 25th December - Christmas Day

Hire Compliantly in France

Navigating the landscape of global employment can be complex, but finding a partner with the right expertise and solutions can help your business remain compliant. Consider partnering with Remofirst for Employer of Record (EOR) services that streamline global payroll in 160+ countries.

Find out more about the French hiring landscape and everything you need to know about managing employees in France in our comprehensive France Country Guide.