Employment contracts are generally not required to be written, but certain forms of employment contracts should be in writing (notably fixed-term contracts, part-time contracts and temporary employment contracts). The employer should provide the employee with a written statement of the essential terms governing the employment relationship. Oral fixed-term contracts are unequivocally deemed to be indefinite-term contracts and oral part-time contracts are deemed full-time contracts.
The indefinite-term contract is the typical form of employment relationship. As a rule, the validity of an indefinite-term contract is not subject to conditions regarding the content and form of the agreement. In that respect, French case law has held that a pay slip may be sufficient to formalise an indefinite-term contract. A fixed-term employment contract is an employment contract entered into for a defined duration, set in advance by the parties. This kind of employment contract is very specific, notably as neither party may terminate it prior to its end, except in the event of an amicable separation, serious misconduct (“faute grave”), force majeure or if the employee finds alternative employment under an indefinite-term contract.
Rather than entering into the contract immediately, parties to the employment contract may agree to provide for a probationary period, which can only be renewed once and under condition, during which either party may terminate the employment contract without any formality. If both parties are satisfied at the end of the probationary period, the employment contract becomes definitive. The probationary period is governed by statute.
Except for specific exceptions (e.g. dismissals for serious or gross misconduct), the parties should observe and cannot waive the required notice periods before an indefinite-term contract is terminated. The length of the notice period is generally determined by the national CBA. Employees who are dismissed or made redundant are entitled to payment in lieu of notice if they are not required to perform their notice period.