France 7 min

Employment laws in France: How to hire and stay compliant

Written by Shay Ogunsanya
Shay Ogunsanya


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Business-friendly laws and a thriving economy make France an excellent choice for companies looking to hire remote workers. There are tax incentives available for businesses that hire remote employees from France, which makes it even more attractive compared to other options in Europe or elsewhere around the world.

Of course, compliance may be a challenge for foreign employers. Non-compliance with French labor laws and tax practices can carry steep penalties and legal risks. This is why partnering with a reliable employer of record (EOR) like Remote is invaluable. Our team of experts provides guidance and support to help companies understand labor laws in France, so they can hire and manage remote workers efficiently while complying with local regulations.

In this guide, you’ll be introduced to the basics of employment law in France. We’ll also explain the key elements that can help you stay legally compliant when hiring employees in France.

Understanding key labor laws in France

France has among the most comprehensive protections and rights in Europe. Employers need to have a strong understanding of the country’s unique requirements and relevant regulations while hiring in France.

Some essential aspects that employers must adhere to include statutory employee benefits, minimum wages, overtime pay regulations, and compliance with equal employment opportunity laws. Companies must ensure that all hiring decisions are non-discriminatory, regardless of where their staff is located physically.

Do employment laws in France vary by state?

Employment laws in France are uniform throughout the country and do not vary by state. Navigating through them and ensuring ongoing compliance at every step of the global employment process, however, is still a complex and time-consuming task.

What do you need to know before hiring a French employee?

To legally employ workers in France, companies must either establish their own legal entity in the country or use the services of an EOR such as Remote, that has their own entities in the country where they operate.

Companies should also be familiar with French labor laws such as employee protection and privacy regulations, minimum wage requirements, vacation entitlements, and social security contribution obligations. From filing taxes following local tax practices to offering appropriate benefits packages for their staff members based on the country’s national legislation, the employer needs to ensure ongoing compliance through every step of the employment journey.

Employ in France with ease

Remote is a full-service provider for companies looking to hire remote employees anywhere in the world, including France. Our team of experts has extensive knowledge of French labor laws, regulations, and policies and can provide detailed guidance, minimizing risks and ensuring that you stay compliant with local labor rules.

By using Remote's services, clients have access to streamlined hiring processes, automatic compliance checks, and extensive legal counsel — all designed to maximize efficiency while staying up-to-date with the latest developments in labor law compliance throughout France.

The France salary calculator: How to calculate the total cost of a French employee

To get an idea of how much it can cost to hire employees in France and beyond, check out Remote's free employee cost calculator. Our useful tool breaks down costs and makes it easier for you to budget and plan for global hires.

Budget your next hire with our free Cost of Employment Calculator

Use the calculator to find the total cost to hire an employee in a new country including all government mandated contributions.

Statutory employment rights in France

What is the minimum wage in France?

The minimum wage in France is €1,709.28 monthly, working out to around €11.06 to €11.27 per hour for full-time employees.

Companies should be aware that, depending on the sector and job role, certain allowances may be provided to employees in addition to the base salary defined by labor law in France.

 The collective bargaining agreement relevant to the employer may also outline a minimum wage that is dependent on the employee’s classification. Collective bargaining agreements are an important source of information for employers when determining how much compensation each individual should receive.

What are the standard working hours in France?

In France, the regular workweek is 35 hours, but companies can arrange for employees to work longer by agreeing to pay overtime. The number of overtime hours that an employee can perform each week is limited by the maximum daily and weekly working hours (see below). 

The performance of overtime hours is also limited by the annual quota of overtime set by the applicable collective bargaining agreement.

Employees must typically not work more than 48 hours a week, an average of 44 hours over 12 consecutive weeks, or 10 hours per day. Rest is also required at least once a week for 24 straight hours, with no working on Sundays.

While 35 hours is the legal workweek, more flexible working time arrangements have been introduced to increase the working time of employees. Special rules apply to autonomous employees, i.e. employees of a certain level who have the freedom to organize their working time.

What is the overtime rate in France?

Any labor performed over the regular working week of 35 hours must be paid at a higher rate (125% or 150%). When surpassing a certain limit, overtime should result in compensatory off-time.

Are there collective bargaining agreements in France?

Employers and unions can negotiate collective bargaining agreements (“conventions collectives”) for either a specific company or group of companies (“accords d’entreprise”) or an entire industry. In the latter case, the government may make these contracts applicable to all employers in that particular sector, including those who are not part of any association.

How do probation periods work in France?

Under France labor law, a probation period (“période d'essai”) must be agreed upon in the employment contract. The probationary period may not exceed eight months in total (including renewal) for permanent contracts. 

Any renewal must be agreed to in writing by the employee. During this time, either party may terminate the contract at any moment without providing justification or paying severance to the other party. Take note, however, that here too, collective bargaining plays a key role in contract specifics.

What discrimination protections does France provide for workers?

Discrimination of any kind is not allowed by the French Labor Code. This includes:

  • origin

  • gender

  • morals

  • sexual orientation

  • age

  • family situation

  • pregnancy

  • genetic characteristics

  • belonging or not belonging to an ethnic group/nation/race

  • political opinions

  • union or mutual society activities

Employers found guilty of breaching discrimination laws are subject to criminal proceedings in addition to penalties imposed on them.

Can employees in France join unions?

France recognizes the right of employees to join and form trade unions. This includes those employed by overseas companies hiring workers remotely. The French government ensures that these rights are respected through monitoring and enforcement measures, including the imposition of fines for violations such as discrimination against union members or interference with organizing activities.

Can companies drug test employees in France?

In France, it is illegal to drug test employees during the hiring process. However, employers may conduct tests on current employees if they have a workplace policy in place and there is potential for danger due to drugs (e.g., driving or handling hazardous materials). This must be done according to their internal rules.

What is the relevant workers’ compensation legislation in France?

In France, the Labor Code and Social Security Code govern workers' compensation. Employers must provide a safe working environment for employees and are responsible for any accidents or injuries that occur in the workplace. 

They must also pay into social security funds to cover medical expenses, disability benefits, retirement pensions, and other benefits related to employment. Employees who suffer an injury while on the job may be entitled to compensation from their employer under France employment law.

link to How to hire and pay remote workers in France
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How to hire and pay remote workers in France

This detailed, step-by-step guide walks you through the safest, simplest, and most scalable way to hire and pay remote workers in France.

Managing employee offboarding in France

Does at-will employment exist in France?

France does not recognize at-will employment. French labor law requires employers to have a valid reason for terminating an employee's contract, and the employer must provide written notice of termination. Employers are also required to follow strict procedures when dismissing employees, including organizing a pre-dismissal hearing, providing advance notice, and offering severance pay in certain cases.

How do companies terminate employees in France?

More specifically, employment contracts can be terminated in three ways. The first two are dismissal due to economic or personal reasons. The third is termination by mutual consent, which allows the employer and employee to reach an agreement concerning how the contract will end without having to explain.

Dismissal requires a valid reason (factual, verifiable, and serious) while termination due to economic grounds must adhere to established regulations. 

Note that dismissal due to economic reasons cannot be used when using an EOR such as Remote.  Employers benefit from mutual termination as it eliminates the need to explain why the contract was ended. Additionally, employees can access unemployment benefits when this kind of arrangement is made.

Are terminated employees in France entitled to severance pay?

Severance pay is mandatory in all cases of termination, apart from when it’s proven that the employee was terminated due to gross negligence or serious misconduct. The amount and how the severance payment is calculated depends on the length of employment and the relevant collective bargaining agreement.

Differences between employees and contractors in France

What regulations separate employees and contractors in France?

The definition of an employee in French law is determined by the employment contract. This agreement involves a person working for another (natural or legal) and receiving remuneration, with tasks to be completed and payment made. 

The most important factor that distinguishes employees from independent contractors is the relationship of subordination. Employers direct the employees’ work and performance, their work is monitored, and any breaches are punished by the employer. On the other hand, independent contractors have their own conditions set out, either solely by themselves or jointly with their customers.

In France, independent contractors are not considered employees and thus do not have the same rights. Employees must adhere to their employer's working hours and be given the necessary resources for work, while contractors can manage their own schedules and use their own equipment. Employees receive a regular salary each month for a permanent job role. In contrast, contractors are hired on an as-needed basis and are paid after the task or project is complete. 

What are the relevant rules on contract workers in France?

To better understand how you can attain the ideal relationship with French workers, consider the contract you want to enter. In France, there are four common types of employment agreements:

  • “Contract Duration Indeterminée“ (CDI). A permanent contract with no end date, subject to labor laws and collective bargaining agreements where applicable. 

  • “Contract Duration Determinée” (CDD). A fixed-term contract with a predetermined end date for when the employee completes a task.

  • Apprenticeship. A written agreement outlining training and job duties required of the employee to obtain professional certification.

  • Single integration contract. Financial aid while facilitating employment for those having difficulty finding work. This can either be temporary or permanent, with at least 20 hours worked per week.

Can employers hire employees on fixed-term contracts in France?

Both indefinite and fixed-term labor contracts exist in France. However, there are stringent regulations on the length and types of fixed-term contracts employers can enter, so you will need to be careful when entering these types of contracts. Remote can only offer indefinite employment contracts at this time.

What are the misclassification laws and penalties in France?

The ramifications of misclassifying an employee as a contractor are far-reaching and can have serious legal, financial, administrative, and criminal repercussions for the employer. The onus is on the independent contractor to prove that there was a subordinate relationship in place.

Consequences of misclassification may include:

  • having to pay minimum wage, taxes, and social security contributions

  • retroactive salary with interest

  • overtime hours or bonuses due under company policy

  • any sums related to breach of contract plus fines up to €45,000 for the company's representative and €225,000 for the business entity itself if undeclared work is discovered

In addition, imprisonment of up to three years could be imposed along with compensation equal to at least six months' wages should employment end. Lastly, it should be noted that there are additional complications that could arise, such as the risk of permanent establishment.

link to The consequences of misclassifying employees as contractors

The consequences of misclassifying employees as contractors

When you employ international workers, you typically pay your team in one of two ways: as contractors or as full-time employees. Misclassify someone as a contractor who should be an employee, and your company could face stiff fines and penalties.

The fast, simple, compliant way to hire in France

Employment laws in France can be difficult to navigate, but this shouldn’t stop you from hiring in France.

Using an EOR is a great way for companies to simplify and comply with local labor laws when hiring and paying remote employees from other countries. An EOR provides the employer with a compliant, streamlined solution that manages payroll, tax compliance, benefits administration, and employee onboarding/offboarding processes on their behalf. This allows employers to focus on core business activities without having to worry about navigating complex foreign regulations.

Remote is the leading global employment partner for companies looking to hire remote workers overseas. Our G2 ranking as market leader in multi-country payroll and our comprehensive suite of services makes international expansion easy. 

If you're looking to hire remote workers in France or globally, Remote is the best-in-class global employment partner. Learn more about our EOR services, or try our cost calculator to gain insight into the potential expenses of hiring remotely in France.

link to How to use an Employer of Record in France
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How to use an Employer of Record in France

Learn how to use an EOR in France and find out how an employer of record platform like Remote can make it easy to hire globally with full compliance.

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