Essential French Labor Laws to Know When Recruiting and Hiring Talent in France

Millions of skilled people in banking, telecommunications, energy, and health care work in France. It also has some of the most comprehensive labor laws in the world. If you're thinking about hiring a worker in France with or without establishing a local company, it's critical that you understand French labor regulations.

Here, we'll look at five French labor rules that you should be aware of in order to be compliant.

The 35-hour work week in France is not so straightforward

The French work week is 35 hours long. However, many roles will require more time to work than that. What is crucial for your company to understand is what the restrictions are beyond 35 hours per week.

Employees are eligible to overtime pay after 35 hours. Overtime pay rates are normally determined by the applicable collective bargaining agreements (CBAs). Overtime rates will be at least 110% of the hourly wage of the worker. If no CBA applies to the worker, they will be entitled to the following: 

  • 125% of their hourly wage for weeks 36-43.
  • 150% of their hourly income for weeks 44-48.

What are the maximum weekly working hours in France?

In France, the absolute most that an employee may work in a single week is 48 hours. Businesses, on the other hand, cannot expect their personnel to work 48-hour weeks on a regular basis. Employees can only work 44 hours per week on average over a 12-week period. 

Work hours, relaxation times, and breaks are all intertwined. In France, respecting relaxation periods is just as important as respecting working hours. Every day, employees must have at least 11 hours between shifts. Workers are also entitled to a full day off work each week. This totals 35 hours of rest, including the required 11 hours between shifts, which is often taken on the weekend. Workers in the hospitality, tourist, and entertainment industries, on the other hand, may be exempt. 

Employees in France have the option to log out

Businesses adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic have mainly defined our present understanding of remote employment. However, many people have been working remotely—at least some of the time—for much longer. Reviewing a proposal when you get home, taking a phone call before dinner, and checking your email first thing in the morning were all normal long before fully-remote work became popular.

When work sneaks into our lives, it becomes a sort of wage theft and eventually harms workers' mental health. France was the first government in Europe to openly address this issue confronting modern workers. Since 2017, French businesses have been required to establish 'Right to Disconnect' agreements with unions. These agreements specify when employees are and are not required to check or send work-related emails.

Time zone differences frequently cause you to be online when your team on the other side of the world is not. Regulations such as the right to disconnect can be inconvenient when you desperately need to connect. Having said that, it is critical to understand how such agreements can affect your firm. It is important not only for compliance, but also for the productivity and mental health of your workforce.

The Labor Pyramid

The following is a hierarchy of labor legislation and agreements for workers and employers:

1. The Code du Travail (French Labor Code)

The French Labor Code is the highest level of labor authority in France. It establishes guidelines for employees, employers, and contractors. The following items are covered by the Code du Travail:

  • Minimum wage
  • Working times
  • Workplace security
  • Discrimination
  • Employee and employer termination rights

2. Collective Bargaining Agreements (Agreements de Performance Collective)

  • Collective bargaining agreements are enshrined in the French Labor Code. Typically, they are negotiated by national or industry-wide labor unions and employer groups. These agreements have far-reaching consequences. CBAs normally apply to employers whether or whether they are members of an employer's group. 
  • Employees frequently benefit more from collective bargaining agreements than the French Labor Code. Employees will receive whatever is more helpful if the two are in disagreement. Similarly, CBAs trump the text of individual employee contracts.

3. Individual Employment Agreements

The French Labor Code and Collective Bargaining Agreements are extremely detailed. If anything isn't previously covered, it can be discussed individually. Keep in mind that when an employee's individual contract clashes with labor laws or the applicable CBA, they are entitled to whatever is most favorable.

Contracts must be drafted in French or translated into French

France is well-known for its rich cultural heritage. It has world-class architecture, cuisine, and arts. The French language is central to this culture, which is a source of national pride and is even used in job contracts. The French Labor Code requires that labor contracts be drafted in French or in the predominant language of your business, with a French translation. 

What difference does it make?

For starters, employment contracts are complicated. Even if a worker speaks another language fluently, the technical structure of employment contracts can cause misunderstandings. Contracts in French guarantee that they completely understand what they are agreeing to. 

Second, neglecting to furnish contracts in French may jeopardize your company's reputation. Consider a contract that provides a bonus if the employee fulfills specific goals. If the contract is not written in French, it may be unenforceable. Furthermore, your employee may later argue that they are entitled to the bonus since they did not understand the non-French part of the contract.

It is critical to be sensitive to local culture when developing a global workforce. Taking the time to deliver relevant documentation in the local language of your worldwide staff is more than just a good approach to defend yourself legally. It can also demonstrate that you value their culture.

Employee monitoring must be GDPR compliant

Some businesses have begun to monitor their remote workers' screens or compel them to be present at their desks at all times. Such actions, however, are unlawful in France, and monitoring in general is strictly regulated. Employment contracts, for example, frequently grant employers complete access to an employee's company email. However, this is not the situation in France. Employers cannot see 'personal' or 'private' emails without the approval of their employees, even if they are maintained on a company email account. 

Furthermore, monitoring such as tracking internet connections may be permitted, but only if the need for such surveillance is adequately explained by the firm. For example, to guarantee that the organization is not subject to cybersecurity dangers, your company may monitor a worker's internet connections. 

If you need to keep an eye on your global team, French employees must be notified. They will also have the right to know why you are doing so, your legal justification, who will have access to their data and for how long, and their rights to protest or file a complaint.

Xpandium can enable you to recruit and employ talent compliantly in France

France's stringent labor regulations and collective bargaining agreements are generally beneficial. They safeguard workers' rights and ensure that they maintain a high standard of living. However, without a committed staff, negotiating French employment rules can be difficult. Fortunately, Xpandium can support you.

Our worldwide operations can assist you throughout the whole hiring process, ensuring that your contracts are in accordance with French labor laws and that you are offering a first-rate experience for your staff from the start.

Book a chat with our team today to discover more about how Xpandium can help you expand abroad.

If you would like to know more, please contact us here.

Contact us

Planning on hiring abroad ?