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Employee Rights in France

General Employee Rights in France

Employment contract

Employers must provide employees with an employment contract that meets the local standards. There are two types of contract in France: fixed-term contract (CDD) and permanent contract (CDI).

Contracts are recognised only if in French. Employers may attach a translation version, if necessary. Employees may request a translation of the agreement in their native language at the employer's expense. The contract should include the following:

  • Employee's job title and professional qualification
  • Salary and bonus in Euro
  • Convention Collective, relative to the employment (an agreement between employers' associations and trades unions regarding work conditions and agreements)
  • Place of work
  • Duration of the contract
  • Trial period
  • Notice period
  • Benefits

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Employers must provide employees with an itemised payslip monthly, breaking down the overtime pay, bonuses, paid vacation, illness, gross salary, net salary, social security contributions, complementary pensions and unemployment insurance. The payslip should also include the annual leave accrued. Employees have a right to request copies of their salary and time records, breaking down information such as days or hours worked by the employee, the wage paid weekly or monthly and the method of calculating the compensation.

Remote work

Employees in roles that allow them to carry their tasks remotely can request to work from home. They can inform their employer of their intention either verbally or in writing, and the employer must justify any refusal. Employers do not need to make changes to the employment contract to allow telework, but a work from home supplement helps set rules and expectations.

Employees working remotely benefit from the same rights as employees who go to the office. Additionally, employees who do not have a dedicated office space on company premises are entitled to a work from home allowance, which compensates them for using their private space as a working area. If an employee has a dedicated office space and requests to work from home, they are not entitled to the allowance. The allowance is usually €80 to €100 per month and is exempt from income tax, up to a limit of €580 for the year.

Health and safety

Employers also have an absolute contractual duty to protect their employees' safety, and they can be held criminally liable for breaches of health and safety rules. Therefore, employers must strictly follow all legal provisions concerning safety in the workplace, evaluate, prevent, and record risks to protect employee's health. Employers are responsible for employee's welfare regarding occupational accidents, physical and psychological dangers and should provide employees with information and training on preventing risks. Premises should be clean and clear of clutter, facilities and technical and safety devices should be maintained and checked regularly. Employees should have sufficient light and be protected against smoking and loud noises.

The employer must also keep an employee record for those exposed to a dangerous working environment, intensive working schedules, or other multiple professional risks. The employer should share that record with the occupational doctor.

Companies with more than 300 employees are required to establish a Health and Safety Commission.

Failure to record in writing or update the risk assessment results annually is punishable by fines of up to €10,000.

Employees who suffer work-related accidents are compensated by a lump-sum indemnity paid by the social security system, which seeks reimbursement for it from the employer in the event of gross negligence.

Workload revision meeting

Employees working from home are entitled to a yearly meeting with their managers to discuss their current workload and possible solutions. Moreover, employees have a right (employers should inform them of that) and can request to have a secondary meeting in case of an increase in the workload.

Following the meetings, the employer must take all the necessary measures to protect the employee's health and safety. They should draft a report, which both employer and employee sign.

Right to Disconnect

Employees in France have the right to disconnect from work after working hours. Employers are prohibited from contacting employees out of those work hours. To respect an employee's private life, the work from home arrangement must establish availability periods where an employer can contact an employee by phone. Outside of the timeslots, the employee is under no obligation to respond to requests from their employer.

Employee Protections in France

Termination protection

France has stringent laws when it comes to terminating an employee. Employers can only terminate an employee when there's a genuine cause, and they must follow a termination procedure.

Employers can dismiss employees for personal or economic reasons. The termination on personal grounds can be disciplinary (misconduct) or not (poor performance, unfitness to work).

Before an employer ends employment, they must invite the employee for a pre-dismissal meeting at least five full business days in advance to discuss the situation and allow commenting or providing an explanation. Employees may be accompanied by another staff member or, if the company has no staff representative bodies, by an external employee advisor.

For disciplinary issues, the employer must inform the employee in writing of their final decision within 30 days of the meeting. If the employer decides to proceed with the termination, they must explain each reason behind their decision.

Additional protection

Certain employees benefit from additional dismissal protection, making it more difficult to terminate employment during the protection period. The following employees are entitled to the extra protection:

  • Employees on maternity leave: a prohibition against dismissing (mutually agreed termination remains a possibility)
  • Pregnant employees or those returning from maternity/paternity leave in the past ten weeks: protection from dismissal unless for reasons such as severe misconduct or impossibility to maintain employment
  • Employees on professional related sick leave: protection from dismissal unless they have committed serious misconduct or it is impossible to maintain employment
  • Employees with a staff representative mandate: termination of contract requires the labour inspector's authorisation

Protection from discrimination

Employers cannot discriminate against employees throughout the employment relationship - from the recruitment process to the ending of the employment - on the following grounds:

  • Origin
  • Gender
  • Morals
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Pregnancy
  • Genetic characteristics
  • Particular vulnerability due to the apparent or known economic condition
  • Nationality
  • Ethnic or racial origin
  • Political opinions
  • Trade union activities
  • Religious beliefs
  • Physical appearance
  • Family name
  • Place of residence
  • Banking domiciliation
  • Medical condition
  • Disability and ability to speak another language other than French

In addition, following legal provisions, employers cannot dismiss employees for going on strike.

Discrimination is a criminal offence, which is punishable by a fine of up to €225,000, the prohibition to undertake activities for a certain period, and up to three years imprisonment to the company's legal representative.

Protection from harassment

Employees are protected from sexual and psychological harassment as well as from sexist behaviours. Harassment is a criminal offence punishable by up to two years imprisonment and a maximum fine of €30,000.

Employers are liable for their employees' mental health and must ensure that they work in a safe environment. Employers must display the text of the Criminal Code on harassment at the workplace. Staff representatives can alert the company (droit d'alerte) on the matter.

Whistleblower protection

Companies with more than 50 employees must set up a whistleblowing procedure, inform employees of the process and explain how their identity and other information remains anonymous.

The dismissal of a good-faith whistleblower for revealing facts that could amount to an offence or a crime is void. That allows the employee to ask for their reinstatement. If the employee abuses the procedure, the employer can take disciplinary measures against them.

Data protection (GDPR)

Among all the other GDPR requirements, employers must handle employees' data with care and security. Personal data is defined as any information relating to an identified or identifiable individual. Specific provisions aim to protect employees' data. Employees have a right to:

  • See their data which is held
  • Access it
  • Request the rectification of the information
  • Request the erasure of the information
  • Restrict the processing of the information
  • Request the portability of the information
  • Object to the data being processed
  • Define guidelines concerning the information in the event of the employee's death

Employers, as data controllers, need to follow six data protection principles when collecting, processing and storing employees' data:

  • Ensure the lawfulness, fairness and transparency of the data
  • Ensure the data use is limited only to the purpose for which the data was collected
  • Minimise the amount of data collected to only that what is necessary
  • Ensure the accuracy of the data
  • Limit the data stored to only what is required
  • Ensure the integrity and confidentiality of the data

Employers will be responsible and must be able to demonstrate compliance with these principles on an ongoing basis and at any time. They must implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk.

Except where otherwise provided by law, companies are prohibited from recording and storing the following information on employees:

  • Racial or ethnic origins
  • Political, religious or philosophical opinions
  • Union membership
  • Medical information
  • Sexual orientation

Beyond the sanctions provided through GDPR, any breach of this rule is punishable by five years imprisonment and a fine of up to €300,000.

Required Employee Benefits in France

Unemployment funds

Employees dismissed from their jobs are entitled to receive an unemployment allowance from the government if they fulfil the criteria.

Overtime pay

Employees working beyond the 35-hour workweek are entitled to overtime pay. Before an employer can ask an employee to work overtime, the two must be previously agreed to it in writing. The extra pay should follow the statutory requirements.

Redeployment leave

Applies to companies with 1,000 or more employees in EC and EEA member states that employ a minimum of 150 people in at least two member states.

Companies that make employees redundant due to economic reasons must offer them a redeployment leave. Its purpose is to provide the employee benefit from training and job search programs. The redeployment leave is granted for a minimum of four and a maximum of 12 months (up to 24 for months if the employee undertakes training for a career change) and takes place during the notice period, which the employee is not required to perform.

If the redeployment leave period exceeds the notice period's length, employment termination is postponed until the end of the redeployment leave. During that excess period, the employer must continue to pay the employee an amount equal to 65% of the average monthly gross remuneration that the employee received over the preceding 12 months.

Job Security in France

Works council

All employers with at least 11 employees must put a work council in place, known as Comité Social et Economique (CSE). Employees are elected for a 4-year term of office and benefit from additional termination protection. The size and attributes of the CSE depend on the number of employees in the company.

Depending on the company's size and the nature of the envisaged project, companies must inform and consult the CSE before making any decisions that impact the business's running and working conditions and provide period information about the business to the council. The CSE is entitled to be part of the board and shareholders' meeting. For companies with more than 1,000 employees, the CSE representatives on the board gain voting rights.

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