France

France PEO & Employer of Record

WeHG provides an International PEO and global Employer of Record service in France to businesses trying to enter the French market or hire local/expat employees in this country.

A common approach claims to establish a subsidiary in France.  However, our solution affords you to start the operations in France within days hence save time and money.  WeHG would hire candidates on your behalf while you maintain full operational monitoring of their work. So legally they would be our employees, on our local payroll, 100% compliant but will work on your behalf.

France fast facts

Population, million: 67
Land area: 640,679 km²
Capital: Paris
Local currency: Euro (€) (EUR)​, CFP franc (XPF)​

GDP per capita:$ 45,454
GDP in currency:$ 2.954 trillion

France, officially French Republic, French France or République Française, country of northwestern Europe. Historically and culturally among the most important nations in the Western world, France has also played a highly significant role in international affairs, with former colonies in every corner of the globe. Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, the Alps and the Pyrenees, France has long provided a geographic, economic, and linguistic bridge joining northern and southern Europe. It is Europe’s most important agricultural producer and one of the world’s leading industrial powers.

Hiring, Negotiating and Doing Business in France

Necessity of written employment contract

(Foreign) employers in France must always keep in mind that there is no such thing as a standard French employment contract.

Consider that a contract cannot be drafted without first determining which Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) applies, based on your business’ activity in France

It is critical for employers to apply the correct CBA to their employment contracts, as not doing so could result in large financial or legal penalties further down the track.

Before drafting a French employment contract, it is also important to take into consideration the classifications of your employee’s role, as well as their job level within that role. Employee experience, age, qualifications and responsibilities will also all need to be carefully assessed, confirmed and detailed in the contract.

Taking into account the complexities mentioned above, we highly recommend consulting with an expert familiar with French labour laws when establishing your team in France so as to ascertain compliance with local law.

Different forms of engagement: employment, contracting, work with private entrepreneur

Citizens of a European Union or European Economic Area Member State or Switzerland can work in France without a work permit.

A work permit may take various forms:

  • A long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit (VLS-TS) or a residence permit authorizing the holder to take up paid employment, like the Talent Passport permit as well as the ‘Intra-company transfer’ residence permit. These residence permits are equivalent to a work permit. No additional steps are necessary. Please see the ‘Residence permits’ section for further details.
  • A specific work permit requested by the employer before arrival in France for people. This work permit is required to obtain a visa and a residence permit. It is thus necessary in particular for the procedures for the introduction of employees on permanent contracts (excluding the Talent Passport), temporary workers on fixed-term contracts and posted workers excluding intra-group mobility.

Certain residence permits valid as work permits and special work permits allow their bearer to work as an employee:

  • For any employer or for a specific employer only; and/or
  • In one or more set geographical areas.

A work permit issued in an overseas department or region (Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte and Reunion) is valid only in that department. Foreign talents holding such a permit and who wish to move to mainland France to engage in paid employment must obtain a new work permit.

A work permit issued in mainland France does not entitle its bearer to work anywhere else than in mainland France. Foreign talents wishing to work in one of the overseas territories must have their employer request another work permit.

The requirement to seek a new work permit does not apply if the bearer holds :

  • An European Blue Card Talent Passport;
  • A resident card; or
  • A private and family residence permit issued in the overseas territories.

France Employment Contract

Types of employment agreements

Similarly to other countries, France has a number of different types of employment contracts to suit various working arrangements and projects. Among them, 2 types stand out: the CDI and CDD.

  • CDI

Although France doesn’t have a “standard employment contract”, the CDI is generally considered as such. As its name indicates, the CDI is a permanent contract with no end date, which means that in normal circumstances, it doesn’t need to be reviewed.

With a CDI, employment usually starts with a 2 to 4-month probation period (informally known as the trial period), which can be renewed once provided it is allowed in writing in the employment contract.

Although the employee needs to be informed of their responsibilities in writing, a verbal agreement for a full-time CDI is sufficient unless the “Convention Collective” (CBA) states otherwise. However, for a part-time CDI, the contract must be in writing.

It is worth noting that the purpose of the CDI contract is, in theory, to provide a contractual basis for stable and permanent employment.

  • CDD

A CDD is a fixed-term contract that can only be used for specific reasons, such as replacing an absent employee temporarily, facing an increase in demand or for seasonal work.

In principle, the maximum duration of a CDD is 18 months and can be renewed twice within this period. In some cases and only if specified in the CBA, the length could be more than 18 months. After this period, if you wish to keep the employee, you will need to amend their contract to a CDI.

Unlike the CDI, a CDD contract must be written in French and signed by both parties. Failing to meet one of these conditions will automatically transform the CDD into a CDI.

It’s also worth noting that a CDD contract should include the following information:

  • Start and end date
  • Length of the probation period
  • Reason for hiring (as mentioned above)
  • Job title
  • Salary
  • Convention collective
  • Caisse de retraite complémentaire

If the employer fails to give the employee a copy of the contract within two working days, they have a right to demand 1-month compensation.

France working hours

The legal working hours (Temps de travail) in France is fixed at 35 hours per week. The 35-hour rule applies to all employees except those with special working conditions, such as sales representatives, executives, limited liability company managers, caretakers in residential buildings and domestic staff. There are many other exceptions, so the main beneficiaries are blue-collar workers and those in large organisations, but even these people work for more than 35 hours. All together, French workers put in an average of almost 40 hours a week.

The working week is Monday to Friday. The working day depends on the company, its sector, corporate culture, size and location in France. Working hours are generally from 8:30-9:30 to 17:30-19:00. There is usually an hour for lunch, but there is a trend to taking less lunch and finishing earlier.

Overtime

Overtime payments are usually fixed by collective agreement, but they have to be paid with at least 25% extra/hour.

Vacation leave in France

Vacation days are accumulated annually in the period 1st June to 31st May, to then be taken in the following period. Officially, this means that if you start to work on 1st April, you can take only 5 days off in the period 1st June to 31st May (i.e. 2.5 days each for April and May). Five days holiday during the first 14 months of employment! Some employers are flexible on this and this can be a useful thing to get straight when negotiating terms of employment. Usually, ‘flexibility’ means days taken ‘in advance’ ( par anticipation), i.e. they come out of your entitlement in the next period.

The following count as working period: paid leave, leave to compensate for overtime, leave for family reasons, suspension of work due to occupational accidents or illnesses, maternity or paternity leave, adoption leave, training leave and periods of military service.

Employment law dictates certain limitations about how leave can be taken, such as the:

  • number of days of leave taken at one time may not exceed 24 working days
  • employee must take at least 12 working days of main vacation at one time
  • main holiday lasting more than 12 working days may be split up by the employer with the agreement of employees and they are informed with at least one month of prior notice
  • fifth week of leave must be taken separately of main holidays (usually August)

Also, the employees may receive some extra day(s) of leave in case of taking a fraction of the main vacation outside the period between 1 May-31 October: one extra day if this fraction lasts 3-5 days and two extra days if this fraction lasts 6 or more days.

France Maternity Leave

All mothers have the right to a minimum of sixteen weeks of paid maternity leave. Up to six weeks of the allowance may be taken as prenatal leave ( repos prenatal) which is taken before the estimated birth date ( la date présumé) and the remainder as postnatal leave ( repos postnatal). You can choose to shorten your leave, but eight weeks (six of which are postnatal) are compulsory. After the third child, an employee can ask for longer maternity leave: 8 weeks before the date of birth and 18 after. If the birth date is after the estimated date, the prenatal leave is automatically extended, but the postnatal leave entitlement remains the same.

During maternity leave, employees receive payments from the social security system. Most companies have also collective agreements ( conventions collectives) concerning continuing payment of the salary by the employer during the period of maternity leave.

All new fathers have the right to paternity leave of 11 days (18 days for twins or more!) Leave must be taken on consecutive days within four months of the birth. The employer must be informed at least one month in advance. This can be combined with the three days of leave given for the birth of a child.

France Severance Laws

Employees with eight months of seniority or more for the same employer on an open-ended contract are legally entitled to severance compensation in case of dismissal on economic grounds or for personal reasons. However, employees are not eligible for severance compensation in case of dismissal for misconduct or negligence.

Even though regulated, the law only establishes a minimum threshold for severance payments. The latter are calculated upon the gross monthly salary of the employee before the termination of the employment contract. Accordingly, they cannot be lower than the following amounts:

  • 25% of the gross monthly salary times years of seniority, for employees with up to 10 years of seniority;
  • 33.33% of the gross monthly salary times years of seniority, for employees with 11 years of seniority or more.

The gross monthly salary of reference for the calculation above corresponds to the most advantageous formula for the employee between the following:

  • The monthly average of the 12 months prior to the termination of the contract or the monthly average of all months prior to the termination, if the length of service is less than 12 months;
  • A third of the monthly salary for the three months prior to the termination of the contract.

In the last case, any annual or exceptional bonus paid to the employee needs to be considered only up to an amount calculated in proportion to the period for which the bonus is paid. Moreover, the severance payment is calculated in proportion to the length of time the employee worked full-time and part-time.

Severance compensation is not cumulative with any other indemnity of the same nature.

France Tax

Salaries are usually paid a few days before the end of each month. As an employee, you will normally receive your salary net of deductions (salaire net) for:

  • Compulsory Social Security Chargees: such as CSG (general Social Security contributions) and CRDS (Social Security repayment contribution)
  • Optional charges: such as mutual insurance contributions, pension contributions or life insurance

Obligatory contributions will be around 20-25% of your gross salary. Your salary payments do not have income tax deducted (so don’t spend it all at once!). You make a tax declaration and pay your income tax (unlike in many counties where the employer makes deductions automatically).

Health Insurance Benefits in France

A doctor may prescribe sick leave for an employee by issuing a sick leave form ( un avis d’arrêt de travail). The employee must complete it and send within 48 hours to:

  • the social security agency
  • the employer, or the Pole Emploi office in the case of unemployment

Employees on sick leave are obliged:

  • to stop working while receiving sickness benefits
  • to comply with authorised times for leaving the house (specified by the doctor; usually 10:00-12:00 and 16:00-18:00 on all days)
  • to ask for authorisation if wishing to stay in a different residence

Payments during periods of sick leave depend on the length of employment with the company and the length of the period of absence.

Additional Benefits in France

Social Security provides coverage for: 1) illness, maternity, paternity,  disability and death; 2) occupational accidents and diseases; 3) old-age benefits; and 4) family allowances. It is composed of various schemes involving the insured according to their professional activities, chiefly:

  • the general scheme: it includes workers, students, recipients of certain benefits, and residents;
  • special schemes: they cover employees who are not in the general scheme (e.g. civil servants, SNCF and EDF-GDF agents…);
  • the schemes for non-agricultural employees: they separately cover the artisans, merchants or manufacturers and liberal professions to the pension insurance, the “sickness” risk is subject to joint management;
  • the agricultural scheme: it ensures the welfare of farmers and farm employees. This social security system does not depend on the Ministry of Social Affairs, but on the Ministry of Agriculture.

Complementary Plans contribute supplementary coverage to the risks afforded by Social Security. Some are mandatory (supplementary pension for private sector employees) and others optional (mutual health organisations, insurance companies, pension funds).

UNEDIC (National Employment Union Industry and Commerce) administers the unemployment insurance programme.

State Welfare provides support to the poorest.

General market practice benefits/additional allowances

  • Investment climate

France is a business-friendly country, with one of the largest markets in Europe, and access to the European single market. It’s capital, Paris, is an important financial center in the region and the European leader in venture capital.

France also has a talented workforce, innovative business leaders, a high-quality transportation infrastructure, and strong intellectual property protections. In recent years, the French government has expanded their policies to continue attracting foreign interest and investment.

  • Technology and innovation

Technology plays an important role in the French economy and its government invests heavily in R&D, creating a favorable foundation for innovation. The Sophia Antipolis technology park in Paris has the highest concentration of technology engineers outside Silicon Valley. Major global technology players have established a presence in the park including companies like Accenture, Cisco, Intel, IBM, Air France, and Orange.

  • Manufacturing

France is an industrial powerhouse and despite a decline in overall output, manufacturing remains one of the country’s largest economic sectors. The country is home to leading automobile manufacturers (Peugeot and Renault) and the world’s leading aircraft manufacturer (Airbus). With an increased focus on technology and innovation and the country’s strong entrepreneurial culture, the French government continues to support the manufacturing sector in order to increase its competitiveness.

  • Tourism

As with many European countries, tourism plays a key role in the country’s economy. France receives over 85 million visitors per year – representing nearly 10% of the country’s GDP. France is one of the most visited countries in the world, and its popularity can be attributed to its history, cultural influence, culinary experiences, and renowned attractions, including UNESCO world heritage sites located throughout the country.

France Holidays

There are eleven national public holidays in France:

  • 1 January, New Year’s Day (Nouvel an, Jour de l’An)
  • Easter Monday in March or April (Lundi de Pâques)
  • 1 May, Labour Day (Fête de travail)
  • 8 May, aVictory Day – End of Second World War 1945 (Fête de la liberation)
  • Ascension Thursday, the sixth Thursday after Easter, usually in May (Ascension)
  • Whit Monday (Pentecost) , the Second Monday after Ascension, in May or June (Pentecôte)
  • 14 July, Bastille Day (Fête Nationale)
  • 15 August, Assumption (Assomption)
  • 1 November, All Saints’ Day (Toussaint)
  • 11 November, Armistice 1918 Day (Fête de l’Armistice)
  • 25 December, Christmas Day (Noël)

Why Choose WeHireGlobally

WeHG takes care of all the onboarding hurdles, payroll, compensation and benefits, tax filing, and termination of employment. Our Employer of Record solution allows you to manage your overseas teams efficiently while minimizing cost and risk.

FAQ France

  • Working hours in France?

    The working week is Monday to Friday. The working day depends on the company, its sector, corporate culture, size and location in France. Working hours are generally from 8:30-9:30 to 17:30-19:00. There is usually an hour for lunch, but there is a trend to taking less lunch and finishing earlier.

  • What are the main holidays in France?

    • 1 January, New Year’s Day (Nouvel an, Jour de l’An)
    • Easter Monday in March or April (Lundi de Pâques)
    • 1 May, Labour Day (Fête de travail)
    • 8 May, aVictory Day – End of Second World War 1945 (Fête de la liberation)
    • Ascension Thursday, the sixth Thursday after Easter, usually in May (Ascension)
    • Whit Monday (Pentecost) , the Second Monday after Ascension, in May or June (Pentecôte)
    • 14 July, Bastille Day (Fête Nationale)
    • 15 August, Assumption (Assomption)
    • 1 November, All Saints’ Day (Toussaint)
    • 11 November, Armistice 1918 Day (Fête de l’Armistice)
    • 25 December, Christmas Day (Noël)
  • What are payroll taxes in France?

    Obligatory contributions will be around 20-25% of your gross salary. Your salary payments do not have income tax deducted (so don’t spend it all at once!). You make a tax declaration and pay your income tax (unlike in many counties where the employer makes deductions automatically).

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