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Remote work laws in France: A comprehensive overview

June 11, 2024

Since 2017, employees in France have enjoyed both the legal right to request telework and protections for their work-life balance. The result is a culture of flexibility and privacy that places French employment laws on the vanguard of remote work. The landscape, however, remains in flux.

French laws regarding remote work are progressive. However, no standardized legal framework or enforcement policies exist even as remote work expanded in the wake of pandemic lockdowns. Instead, France’s telework guidance depends on voluntary participation by employers and remote employees. In each case, parties must mutually agree on the appropriateness and guidelines for telework in employment agreements.

Here, we’ll offer an overview of France’s stance on remote work and the impact on companies that want to employ global talent in France.

The Legal Foundation of Telework in France

In 2017, France enacted a labor law that revised the country’s telework standards in two important ways. These changes empowered employees with legal rights to:

  • Request to work remotely from home (e.g., telework)
  • Not be penalized for failing to respond to work-related calls or emails outside of work hours

Despite these guidelines, neither employees nor their employers can legally impose a work-from-home policy on the other party. Instead, they must agree on the details they deem appropriate for their specific working arrangement.

An employer may decline an employee’s request for remote work in individual cases, provided they document an objective justification for the refusal. Likewise, in pressing circumstances, employers may require employees to work from home for the health and safety of all employees in the workplace, regardless of the employee’s preference.

Once an employer and employee reach an agreement for remote work, the details are formalized in an employment contract, which employers may not revise without the employee’s approval.

Comprehensive Rights for Remote Employees

Laws governing remote work in France help ensure French employees are on a level playing field with colleagues and other workers throughout the country and promote personal well-being and good mental health.

Company and Personal Data Protection

French employers are responsible for safeguarding personal employee data generated by and related to their telework.

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) documents all employees’ rights to be informed about how their information is used. Additionally, the French National Commission for Informatics and Freedom (CNIL) recommends best practices for workers in France, including that employers and employees:

  • Avoid transferring confidential information through unsecured channels, such as consumer cloud storage, online file-sharing platforms, collaborative editing tools, or messaging services
  • Limit connections to trusted networks and avoid publicly accessible Wi-Fi when handling sensitive data

To support these best practices, the CNIL suggests:

  • Implementing frequent password changes and maintaining updated software on all devices used for work
  • Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt data transmissions when working remotely
  • Utilizing antivirus and firewall software to protect against online threats

Working Time Regulations and the Right to Disconnect

French labor law mandates a 35-hour work week with limitations on overtime. These regulations apply equally to office-based and remote workers, ensuring that outside of business hours they can enjoy a private life free of distractions from work.

France is also at the forefront of the “right to disconnect” movement. Though an enforcement policy isn’t yet in effect, French employers are required by law to (a) respect their employees’ rights not to take calls or read emails during time off and (b) work with employees to find a mutually agreed upon practice of this policy.

The Role of Trade Unions and Collective Bargaining

Trade unions are prominent in France. For remote work, in particular, unions help facilitate collective bargaining agreements with employers to establish clear guidelines on remote work policies, home office stipends, and more.

These agreements help ensure remote workers benefit from the same protections and opportunities as their office-based colleagues.

Eligibility and Conditions for Telework

All employees in France — including those from other EU member states — have the legal right to request any of the following accommodations from their employers:

  • Equipment policies: Employers must inform employees of any restrictions on company computer and communication equipment use, including penalties for non-compliance.
  • Performance reviews: Employers should hold annual meetings with remote workers to discuss workload and working conditions.
  • Home office allowances: Employers must offer a tax-exempt monthly allowance to offset home office expenses, capped at €580 annually.
  • Workspace compensation: For employees who lack a company office, employers must provide compensation for furniture, storage space, and internet and phone usage in their home office or coworking space.
  • Equipment and maintenance: Employers must provide all necessary equipment, including maintenance, at no cost to the employee.
  • Work-life balance: Communication between employers and employees should occur within pre-agreed-upon work hours.
  • Clear communication and recognition: Employers should maintain regular communication with remote workers, including changes to company policies and recognition for completed work and achievements.

Hire Global Talent in France

As the possibilities for how and where global talent works remain fluid, France offers unique, progressive support for telework. By enacting legislation that defines remote work as a right, the French government has promoted its dedication to supporting work-life balance and flexible working conditions that help businesses thrive.

French companies and international employers alike have the opportunity to adopt flexible work practices in line with French standards — and an Employer of Record (EOR) like Remofirst can make it easy to hire remote workers in France and remain compliant with French employment laws.

Book a demo today to learn how Remofirst can make managing global talent a breeze.