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French Employment Law: Know your rights before you sign

By Zoubaïda Bouzou, Lawyer

Image by CQF-avocat from Pixabay: Once the decision is taken to work in France, you need to be informed on all the conditions that will prevail. We published an article in July/August 2018 on how to be in compliance with Immigration, tax rules and international employment law. That article focused on whether or not you need a visa or permit to work in France. Continuing from there, we look at the questions to consider related to contractual labour law.

If you are ready to live and work in France, it is important to plan; especially if what is expected is a permanent contract and not temporary work. Many companies publish their openings on their website and it is easy to collect the most relevant information regarding the job description and to review employee benefits the company offers.

The first important question is the nature of the contract: there are different types of contracts under French law. The two main types are the fixed-term CDD (“contrat à durée déterminée”) for a maximum of 18 months (in principle, as there are exceptions) and the open-ended CDI (“contrat à durée indéterminée”). The “contrat à durée déterminée” terminates at the end of the contractual period, which is different for the “contrat à durée indéterminée”. The latter can be terminated by resignation, mutual consent or dismissal. In the case of dismissal, a very strict procedure must be followed and the reasons for dismissal must be specifically defined in substance and in writing.

Your rights as a foreigner
It is important to have a careful look before signing a contract and not to fear asking questions you might have if you don’t understand a provision. An extra check can help to avoid any unpleasant surprises. The French Labour Code (“Code du Travail”) stipulates that some provisions are required and must be agreed by the employee (such as the place of work, the title, grade, nature or category of the work, the start date and the working hours). For example, the written employment contract must be written in French but when the employee is a foreigner, it is mandatory to have at his request a translation of the contract. In case of discrepancy, only the text written in the language of the foreign employee can be invoked against the latter (article L1221-3 of the Labour Code). Any part of a labour contract that does not meet the standards laid down by law is invalid. In fact, any stipulation contradicting the legal norms shall be void.

A legal professional can provide impartial guidance before signing a contract and if necessary can defend your rights when an issue arises.


Zoubaïda Bouzou, Avocat

Isegoria Conseils
12 Avenue Malausséna, Nice
+33 (0)9 83 57 28 00