Working Conditions in France

1. Minimum Working Conditions

Employers and employees are free to negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment relationship. However, employees have various minimum rights under the law, regardless of any contrary language in their employment agreement. These minimum working conditions are set forth in the French Labour Code and the applicable Collective Agreement, among other sources.

2. Salary

As of 1st January 2016, the minimum gross monthly wage is EUR 1,466.62 (about USD 1,632) for a 35-hour workweek. All employees who are employed under an ordinary employment contract (either indefinite or fixed-term) are entitled to the minimum wage. CBAs also frequently provide greater minimum wages (which vary in function of job categories).

3. Maximum Working Week

Usually, employees work 35 hours a week. However, employers can agree a longer workweek with their employees. In that case, any work over 35 hours a week is payable as overtime (although there is no entitlement to additional days off).

In any event, employees should not work more than:

  • An average of 44 hours a week during any 12 consecutive weeks;
  • 48 hours during any given week;
  • 10 hours a day.

Special rules apply to autonomous executives (that is to say executives of a certain level who freely organise their working time).

4. Overtime

Only hours worked in excess of the statutory weekly working hours at the request of the employee’s superior will be regarded as overtime.

However, the employer has the duty to ensure that employees do not exceed the daily and weekly limits.

Those who work overtime are entitled to compensatory payment involving a surcharge (which is generally 25% for the first 8 hours put in during the week, then 50%), and which cannot be less than 10%, of the employee’s standard pay.

The employer can only request the employee to work in excess of the legally recognised overtime level if he has consulted the Works Council or, in the absence of a Works Council, staff representatives.

5. Holidays

Employees are entitled to a minimum of five weeks’ paid holiday a year. In addition, there are approximately ten public holidays every year. The law and CBAs grant additional paid leave for employees who have reached a specific length of service and for family related events.

Autonomous executives also benefit from additional days off.

6. Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Healthy and Safe Workplace

The employer’s safety obligation is not limited to the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases. It is much broader and covers all risks to which the employee may be exposed at work, including psychosocial risks. This is an obligation of result.

Professional risk prevention measures should be sought, employees should receive information and training about these risks, and the employer should be compliant with certain specific rules in the arrangement and use of premises to ensure the health and safety of the employee (for example, premises should be clean and clear of clutter, facilities and technical and safety devices maintained and checked regularly, the employees should have protection against smoking and loud noises, sufficient light, etc.).

For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in France, please contact Joël Grangé, Partner at Flichy Grangé Avocats ( at
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