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Labour law in France

In comparison to many other countries, French employment laws frequently offer employees higher social-, income-, and labour protection, laying a greater financial and operational risk on the company and employer than may be usual in a client’s home country.

Do you want to understand more about  labour law before expanding your business to France? The most important labour laws and regulations impacting working conditions and social security are summarized below.

Do you want to learn more about French labour law? We compiled all of the information about labour conditions, social security, contracts, probation/notice periods, and terminations into a single file for you. Please request the French overview, and we will send it to you.

Portage

As an Employer of Record, Parakar France SAS is mandatorily adhered to the rulings of the National Collective Bargaining Agreement of “portage salarial” (the “CBA”), as extended.

Therefore, on this page the focus will be on the labour conditions in line with the CBA of portage salarial.

France

Labour Conditions

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Minimum wage

France has a government-mandated minimum wage (called SMIC) and no worker in France can be paid less than this mandatory minimum rate of pay. Employers in France who fail to pay the minimum wage may be subject to punishment by France’s government. Effective January 1st, 2024, the new national minimum wage is EUR 11.65 per hour, or EUR 1,759.15 per month for a full-time employee working 35 hours per week.

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Paid annual leave

All workers have a right to paid leave once they have worked at least one month during the reference period (which runs from 1 June of the previous year to 31 May of the current year). Workers are then entitled to two-and-a-half working days’ leave for each month worked, so five weeks of paid leave per year worked or 30 working days. This is prorated for employees having worked less than 12 months over the year.

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Sick leave

In France, companies are not obliged to pay workers who take sick leave for the first three days away from work. The first 3 calendar days are never paid by social security, it is the employee’s loss. This unpaid 3 days waiting period is called “carence”.
In case of illness an employee must notify the employer no more than 2 working days (48 hours). To recoup any pay, employees require a doctor’s note from day one. Failure to justify the absence with a doctor’s note causes the absence to be unpaid on the payslip and to be regarded as unjustified, unauthorized absence. Sick pay is subject to certain conditions. To learn more, please request our document by filling the form on the top of the page.

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Working hours & Resting times

In France, the legal working week is 35 hours in all types of companies. The working day may not exceed 10 hours. Furthermore, employees may not work for more than 6 hours without a break (20 minutes minimum). The maximum working day may be extended to 12 hours under a collective agreement. In principle, no more than 48 hours a week may be worked, 44 hours per week on average over a period of 12 consecutive weeks (up to a maximum of 46 hours, under conditions).

All workers must be allowed a daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours. The minimum weekly rest period is 35 consecutive hours (11 hours plus a 24 consecutive hour rest period per week). Sundays are, in general, considered rest days.

Social Security

The French social security, which the French familiarly call “la Sécu”, is divided into different categories, called “regimes”. Parakar’s employees are mainly concerned by the “Régime général” (General Social Security System), which covers most employees. The social security system is divided into branches:

  • The health, maternity, paternity, disability, and death branch;
  • The industrial accident and occupational illness branch, which are managed separately by the National Health Insurance Fund (Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Maladie);
  • The old-age branch, managed by the National Old-Age Insurance Fund (Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Vieillesse/CNAV);
  • The family branch, managed by the National Family Benefits Fund (Caisse Nationale d’Allocations Familiales/CNAF);
  • The contributions and collections branch, managed by the Agence Centrale des Organismes de Sécurité Sociale (French Social Security Central Agency/ACOSS).

Health insurance

The social security system covers at least 70% of the cost of treatment (possibility to have private plan to receive additional coverage “mutuelle”). To be eligible to claim benefits, the employee must have paid a certain amount in contributions or worked a specific number of hours. So, the employee must have at least worked for 3 months.
To qualify for health benefits the employee must have been employed for 600 hours in the last six months, 200 hours in the last quarter or 120 hours in the last month. There is no minimum qualifying period during the first three months after registration.

Pension

The French pension system is made up of three pillars:

  • State pension
  • Compulsory supplementary pension
  • Voluntary private pension

A French pension is typically available to foreigners who live and work in France for a set number of years (must have worked for at least 10 years) and meet other conditions. While the maximum pension amount can only be claimed after working in France for 40–43 years. However, earners can also pay into a supplementary pension and/or private pension plan for more pension security. The statutory retirement age in France is 62 (or 60 if born before 1 July 1951).

Work injury & invalidity

Industrial accident insurance pays all medical and rehabilitation costs associated with work injuries (accident de travail) and provides a pension for the employee or his/her dependence in the case of injury or death. A benefit of 60 per cent of earnings is paid (up to a maximum amount) during the first 28 days of disability and thereafter 80 percent of earnings.

Maternity leave

To qualify for maternity benefit, you must have been insured for at least ten months before your pregnancy began. Employees who are not automatically covered by maternity insurance can contribute voluntarily. The mother is obliged to take at least eight weeks of leave, and she is entitled to 16 weeks (in principle six weeks before the confinement and ten weeks after) and, as of the third child, to 26 weeks. In the event of multiple births, the mother can be entitled to a maximum of 46 weeks.

Paternity leave

Paternity leave is granted regardless of seniority and type of employment contract. Since 1st July 2021, paternity leave lasts 25 calendar days and is broken down as follows:

  • 3 statutory working days for birth leave o be taken directly after birth of the child.
  • Then, 4 calendar days consecutive to the 3 days of birth. They need to be taken immediately after.
  • The remaining 21 calendar days can be taken at once or separated into 2 periods of a minimum of 5 days.

The leave must begin within 6 months of the birth of the child (in particular to be entitled to compensation from the French Social Security, calles CPAM), but it may end beyond this period.

Family benefit

The employees are entitled to a family allowance (“allocation familiale”) in France if they live in France with their family and currently have continuous responsibility for at least one child. The following types of family benefits are provided for under French law:

  • Infant welcome beneft;
  • Family allowance itself (child benefit) + supplement;
  • Housing/special education/maintenance/new school year allowances;
  • Daily allowance for parent presence.

Family allowance increases may be granted based on the child’s age.

Your guide

Our team

Reach out to our experts in France, who are always happy to answer your questions about the French labour principles.

HR-consultants France

Laurent parakar
Laurent Togbe
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Mélanie Berville
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Labour law and regulations in france: minimum wage | parakar
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Labour law and regulations in france: minimum wage | parakar
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Labour law and regulations in france: minimum wage | parakar
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