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Guide for International Employers: Employment Law and Employee Benefits in France

In this post, we provide a factfile of the important things international employers need to know about employment law and employee benefits in France.

Fixed-Term Contract Extensions

Fixed-term contracts are permitted in limited circumstances and can be renewed twice without exceeding a total maximum period of 18 months.

Termination Rules

Terminations in France are complex and are often a negotiated process. France does not allow at-will termination of employment for employers. Contracts may be terminated by mutual agreement or unilaterally for due cause (misconduct, unfit for the role, extinction of the role). The employer cannot terminate fixed-term contracts early. Employees can appeal to a court if they considered the dismissal unjustified.

Termination Costs 

Employees who have at least one-year’s seniority are entitled to severance pay. Severance pay is calculated as 1/5 of a monthly salary for each year of seniority. For seniority of 10 years or more, they also receive 2/15 of a monthly salary for each year of seniority. Notice periods start from 1 month for seniority up to 2 years going up to 2 months for employees with more than 2 years’ seniority. Employees must receive holiday pay for untaken leave and salary until the end of the notice period.

Statutory Paid Holiday 

Statutory paid holiday entitlement:

  • 30 days per year for employees working 6 days per week
  • 25 days per year for employees working 5 days per week.

Maternity Leave

Minimum maternity leave in France is 16 weeks.

Births                   Pre-Natal Leave   Post- Natal Leave       
Single 6 weeks* 10 weeks
Multiple 24 weeks 22 weeks

*There is the option to decrease pre-natal leave by up to three weeks so that the post-natal period can be longer.

During maternity leave, employees receive an indemnity from the social security authorities. The benefit corresponds to the average basic pay of the preceding three months, up to a ceiling of €84.90 per day (for 2017).

Paternity Leave

Fathers can take paternity leave within the four months following the birth.

Births               Paternity Leave 
Single 11 days
Multiple 18 days

Fathers receive a daily allowance from the social security authorities and the employer is not obliged to maintain the employee’s remuneration during leave although some collective agreements may require the employer to do so.

Parental Leave 

After the child is born and once the maternity leave is over, parents can take shared unpaid parental leave or request to work part-time. Parents share parental leave and this leave can last between one and three years. In order for the parental leave to be granted the employee must have at least one year of seniority in the organisation at the date of birth of the child. Similar parental leave rights apply in the case of adoption. This leave is granted for an initial period of one year, which may be extended twice – until the child turns three. If parents do not opt for parental leave, an employee may opt to work part-time (minimum of 16 hours per week) for the same period (between one and three years).

Probation Periods 

This varies according to the position of the employee. The probation periods are renewable once for 2 or 3 months provided it is included in the contract.

Employee Position         Probation Period                
Blue Collar 2 months
Supervisors and Technicians 3 months
Managerial 4 months

Fixed-term contracts can also include a probationary period but this may not exceed one day per week of the contract’s duration. It must be limited to two weeks in case of a contract lasting six months or less, or up to one month for contracts lasting more than six months.

How Capital GES can help your business

Capital GES is an outsourced employment specialist that has been operating globally for 27 years and has helped thousands of clients achieve their goal of establishing a business presence overseas. Our team consists of dedicated international in-country specialists who are on-hand to provide round-the-clock support whenever our clients need them.

If you are thinking of expanding your business and looking to hire in France, contact us at or via phone: +41 32 732 97 00 or +1 833 972 6346 to see how we can help.

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