FRENCH EMPLOYMENT LAW OVERVIEW
Employees in France benefit from a high level of legal protection.
Sources of French employment law include legislation (the Employment Code) and
case law. In addition, there are collective bargaining agreements (“conventions collectives” or “CBA”), which have legal effect in most sectors of business. These are negotiated at a national, regional or company level between employers’ organisations
and trades unions for specific sectors of commerce and industry.
In most cases, foreign companies or businesses employing staff in France cannot contract out of French employment law or the relevant collective bargaining agreement.
The nature of the business activity will determine which collective bargaining agreement will apply (E.g. plastics, textiles or metallurgy depending on the composition of products). This needs to be checked before employing staff in France or setting up a representative office or business.
Typically, such collective bargaining agreements cover such matters as:
- minimum salary coefficient / job function and level of qualifications and experience
- trial periods
- notice periods
- termination indemnities (termination for cause (except very serious breach) or for redundancy)
- salary rights in case of illness, maternity and accident
- holiday entitlements in case of marriage or civil partnership, death in the family, sickness of children, maternity and paternity leave etc
- length of service
- night working
- top-up incapacity, accident and life insurance
- job functions, hierarchical classification and minimum salaries
- non-competition clause
- staff representation
Finally, international legal sources, and in particular, European Community Directives and case law of the European Courts of Justice and Human Rights have had an important impact.