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.
As of 1 January 2016, the minimum gross monthly wage is EUR 1,498.47 (about USD 1,753) 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 higher minimum wages.
Maximum Working Week
Usually, employees work 35 hours a week. However, employers can agree on 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. Working time is to be reorganised at company level (subject to applicable CBAs). Working time can notably be reorganised on a multiple-week basis, i.e. the employee works an average 35 hours over 4 (or more) weeks, while his working time is different each week.
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. Each overtime hour may either be paid or compensated with compensatory rest, i.e. every hour of overtime worked gives rise to either 1 hour of pay or 1 hour of rest, plus the relevant surcharge.
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. The employer should assess potential risks in a document called a single document occupational risk assessment (DUERP), including: 1) the choice of manufacturing processes, work equipment, the chemical substances or preparations; 2) the development or redevelopment of workplaces or facilities; 3) defining workstations; and 4) the impact of inequalities between women and men. Mandatory for any business, this document includes: i) an inventory of the risks identified in each of the business units of work; ii) the classification of these risks; and iii) proposals for actions to be implemented. The DUERP should be updated once a year, at a minimum.
The new Sapin II law expands extra-territorial reach for French prosecutors. The law applies fully to corruption by French companies overseas and foreign companies who have a presence in France. It should also be noted that the Sapin II law expressly provides for the possibility for employees to appeal to the Labour Court, by way of summary judgment, in the event of termination of the employment contract following the notification of an alert within the meaning set out by the law.