The French job market provides foreign employers with great opportunities: The country is known for its high education levels and the percentage of science graduates among workers is higher than in any other country in Europe. Sure, employment costs are relatively high and French Labour Law is pretty complex, but with a competent Employer of Record (EOR) by your side, there is no reason for you not to hire that highly skilled employee in France.
The first thing to keep in mind when hiring an employee in France is that the employment contract has to be in French whether the future employee actually speaks French or not. Information on compensations and salary should be given in Euro.
French legislation differentiates between two types of job contracts: CDI (Contrat à durée indéterminée) which is the French version of an open-ended contract and CDT (Contrat à durée déterminée) which is basically a fixed-term contract – maximum duration is 18 months, extendable for another 18 months.
As a minimum requirement, an employment contract in France should contain information on salary, benefits and terms of termination. When negotiating the terms of the employment agreement, companies might have to consider existing collective bargaining agreements which are quite numerous in France as trade unions play an important role in the country’s work culture.
In France, the length of the probation period depends on the employee’s position. While the standard probation period for technicians and intermediate level supervisors is three months, those for manager positions can extend to up to four months. Non-executive employees are generally subject to a two months’ trial period.
Working Hours and Breaks
Unlike in other European countries, a standard working week in France comprises only 35 hours. Any time worked beyond this limit is considered overtime. The legal maximum is 48 hours in one week with a daily maximum of ten hours.
If there is no special agreement in place, employees in France are compensated for overtime work by an additional payment of 25% of their regular hourly wage. For every hour worked beyond the 43-hour limit, overtime pay is set at 150% of normal wages.
French employees usually get paid once a month. Although pay dates are not determined by law, it is common practice to issue payments at the end of the month.
As of January 2021, the minimum wage in France amounts to EUR 10.25 per hour which equals a monthly salary of EUR 1,554.58.
Even if employees are absent from work due to illness or injury for only one day, they have to provide a medical certificate. During sick leave, the employment contract is basically on hold. Thus, employers do not have to pay their employees during this period. Instead, the employee receives sickness allowances from the French social security.
There is no law in France that mandates the payment of a 13th salary. However, some industry agreements provide for an annual bonus equal to an additional month’s wages.
Taxes and Social Security Contribution
Employees and employers in France are subject to the following tax and social security contribution rates:
26,5% corporate tax rate if turnover is under EUR 250 million
20% VAT (standard rate)
individual income tax rates:
below EUR 10,084: 0%; up to EUR 25,710: 11%; up to EUR 73,516: 30%; up to EUR 158,122: 41%; above EUR 158,122: 45%
between 29.89% and 45.92% of employee’s gross salary including:
7.07% – 13.07% general social security – health insurance, disability insurance etc.
3.45% – 5.25% family benefits fund
8.55% pension scheme (on income up to EUR 3,428) + additional 1.9% on all income
4.2% unemployment insurance and wage guarantee fund
4.72% – 12.95% supplementary pension contributions (EUR 3,428 threshold applies)
accident insurance rates vary depending on industry and type of work
between 20.15% and 25.64% of employee’s gross salary including:
6.9% pension scheme (on income up to EUR 3,428) + additional 0.4% on all income
9.7% solidarity surcharge and social security debt reimbursement
3.15% – 8.64% supplementary pension contribution (EUR 3,428 threshold applies)
It is worth noting that employees in France enjoy great protection under French employment law and are entitled to numerous benefits which include:
The minimum annual leave employers must grant their employees is five weeks (30 days) – basically 2.5 days per month to cover Saturdays as well – but can be more. Some collective bargaining agreements require additional rest days for employees whose standard work week exceeds 35 hours.
Under these regulations, employees can be granted an additional one to two days of paid leave per month. Usually, unused leave cannot be carried over into the next leave period which is from June 1st to May 31st.
Maternity Leave and Paternity Leave
The duration of maternity leave in France is determined by the number of children. While a female employee who gives birth to twins is entitled to 34 weeks of maternity leave, a woman who gives birth to only one child receives 16 weeks of maternity leave – 28 if she already has two or more children.
If the employee gives birth to triplets or more, maternity leave extends to 46 weeks. In case of illness related to the pregnancy, the mother receives another six weeks on top.
Fathers of newborn children are allowed to take three days off on the actual birth. Another eleven days of paternity leave can be taken during the first four months after birth. During maternity and paternity leave, employees receive payments from the French social security.
In France, both mother and father are legally entitled to parental leave which must be taken before the child turns three. The general rule is that either mother or father can take up to two years of parental leave while the other parent can take up to one year.
During this time, employers do not have to pay their employees but are banned from terminating the employment. Employers also have to allow their employees to work part-time if they wish to do so.
Additional Leave and Benefits
In addition to parental leave which applies to the first three years after birth – or adoption – parents can request extra time off when their children are sick. Usually, this extra leave is three to five days, depending on the number of children and their age. In special cases where the child’s illness requires intensive care, French law provides for an additional 310 days of leave stretched out over three years.
Generally speaking, there are only two valid reasons for employers to terminate the employment – that is to say, apart from resignation and mutual termination:
- economic dismissal, e.g. job cuts due to the company’s difficult economic situation
- personal dismissal, e.g. in case of constant underperformance of an employee
The notice period varies depending on whether the employee is still in his or her probation period, as does severance pay. Employees whose probation period is not over yet are not entitled to any severance pay. In this case, the notice period can be anything between one day and one month.
When terminating an employee whose service time at the company exceeds probation period, employers have to respect the following notice periods:
- one month for non-executive workers with a length of service of six months to two years
- two months for non-executive workers with a length of service of more than two years
- a standard three months for executive workers
Fixed-term contracts do not require a notice period. Instead, the employer has to pay the dismissed employee for the remaining time of the contract.
Severance pay for those with a minimum length of service – usually one year – is calculated as follows:
- 20% of the employee’s monthly wages for every year worked – up to ten years
- one third of the employee’s monthly wages for every additional year
Hiring in France?
Not sure if you should start with a contractor or go ahead and hire a full-time teammate in France? The Lano platform makes it easy to go from freelance to full-time employee. Get expert guidance from the Lano team to compare your options and keep growing.