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Living and working conditions


Source: EURES The European Job Mobility Portal. For up-to-date information visit the Living and Working Conditions section about France on the EURES Portal.

How to find a job


   1.PÔLE EMPLOI (French governmental employment agency)

All towns have a Pôle Emploi office which will help you in your search for a job. You can register at the office closest to where you live. For more information, call 0033177863949 or visit the website: www.pole-emploi.fr

   2.EURES (European employment services)

Eures advisers, who are attached to Pôle Emploi in a network dedicated to the international market, will guide you in your search on your arrival in France.
See website: www.eures.europa.eu

   3.APEC (Managerial Staff Employment Association) helps executives (positions of responsibility) and young graduates in their search for employment.
See website: www.apec.fr

   4.TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES charge the employer for their services, not the job seeker. See website: www.prisme.eu


These agencies are contracted by companies to manage the recruitment of certain highly skilled staff or those entrusted with positions of responsibility.

Examples of websites to visit: www.cadremploi.fr - www.cadresonline.com



Companies often have a ‘Recruitment’ area. Use a search engine or business directory to find their internet address. You can also search the following website: www.pagesjaunes.fr


The specialised trade press enables companies to recruit staff by publishing their vacancies. You will find all titles and their links at: www.press-directory.com

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How to apply for a job


   1.The employer’s name is given in the job ad or you are sending an unsolicited application: obtain information about the employer in order to adapt your Curriculum Vitae and cover letter and prepare for your interview.

  • Information to search for: sector of activity, company values, workforce, turnover, market share, name of a specific contact (unsolicited application), etc.
  • Where can you find this information?
    • On the internet by visiting the employer’s website and by using search engines.
    • In the business directory: www.pagesjaunes.fr
    • Through the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in your country: www.uccife.org

   2.The employer’s name is not given: work on your application by adapting your CV and/or cover letter based on the terms used in the job ad.


  • A ‘CV’ (Curriculum Vitae), which should be no more than two pages in length, usually contains the following sections:

   1.Civil status: First name, SURNAME, address, telephone number (with the international dialling code) and email address. Marital status, age and nationality (if you a national from the European Economic Area) are optional.

   2.Title: State the desired position, possibly including your strengths, for example: ‘TRILINGUAL SALES ASSISTANT – French-English-Spanish’.

   3.experience: include one paragraph per job, noting the dates, the position held, the company name, the economic sector and location, and detailing your responsibilities, tasks, results and the skills you applied. Your CV can be arranged in reverse chronological order (giving the last job first), in chronological order (from your first to your last job, which is used less and less), by skill (covering several jobs) or a combination of the above (by skill, with the company names and dates).

   4.Education: give the dates when you obtained your qualifications and their equivalent in the French educational system.  See this website ‘4.  Living conditions 4.7 Educational systems’. 

   5.Language and computer skills: for languages, give your mother tongue. For French, specify your reading, writing and speaking levels.

   6.Another section (often entitled ‘Interests’): if you have already stayed in France, do not hesitate to mention it.

For more information, go to the Pôle Emploi website, specifically the ‘Vos services en ligne’ section [Your online services] via the following link: 


  • AN APPLICATION LETTER (cover letter), which should be no more than one page in length, is usually typed (applications are increasingly being sent by email). It allows you to show why you are interested in the company. It must also show how your profile matches the job requirements. A cover letter should have the following format:
    • At the top left:  Your first name, SURNAME, full address, telephone number (with the international dialling code) and email address.
    • At the top right: the place from which the letter is being sent and the date.
    • A few lines further down: the company’s address and the name of the person to whom the letter is being sent.
    • The subject of the letter and/or the reference, for example: ‘Re: Product Manager - Ref. 758945L’.
    • The body of the letter.
    • At the bottom right: your signature.

For more information, go to the Pôle Emploi website, specifically the ‘Vos services en ligne’ section [Your online services] via the following link: 


For more information, go to the Pôle Emploi website, specifically the ‘Organiser sa recherche’ section [Preparing for your job search] via the following link: https://www.emploi-store.fr/portail/centredinteret/preparersacandidature/organiserSaRecherche

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Finding accommodation

If you are looking for short-term accommodation, there are many options: hotels, aparthotels, self-catering accommodation (apartments or lodges), B&Bs, etc. See the following websites: www.pagesjaunes.fr - www.tourisme.fr

You may be able to find accommodation through your contacts, but also:

  • In daily newspapers, there is often a separate section for property ads. The weekly newspaper ‘De particulier à particulier’ publishes advertisements placed directly by private individuals (website www.pap.fr)
  • On the internet, many specialist websites contain advertisements (rentals, house-shares, sales) arranged by geographical location and type of accommodation (house, flat). You can narrow down your search by: surface area, number of rooms, budget. These websites also give you advice about renting and buying.  

Websites to visit: www.seloger.fr  - www.explorimmo.fr - www.avendrealouer.fr


Estate agencies act as intermediaries between the tenant/purchaser and the owner. They organise visits and draw up rental/sale contracts. They are paid through commission (for rental: the amount generally corresponds to one month’s rent).  Contact details for many estate agents can be found on the website:www.fnaim.fr


All private companies with more than 10 employees must pay a contribution, known as ‘1% logement’ [1% accommodation], to approved building organisations. In return, they enjoy preferential access to a stock of rental accommodation with preferential rental conditions.


If you meet the required criteria, you may apply for a local HLM (low-rent housing) organisation via the prefecture or town hall.

For more information on the procedures and costs, see ‘4.  Living conditions 4.5 Accommodation’ on this website.

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Recognition of diplomas and qualifications

The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers

The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.

Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU

As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.

For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.

Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe

The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:
- An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
- The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.

Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU

Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.

In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.

  • The European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.

  • The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.

  • The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.

  • Europass

Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents

   1.a CV (Curriculum Vitae),

   2.a language passport,

   3.certificate supplements,

   4.diploma supplements, and

   5.a Europass-Mobility document.

The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.

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Kinds of employment

To find out about your employment rights in France, you should refer to the Labour Code. 

THE MINIMUM LEGAL AGE for working is 16. However, in some cases strictly laid down by law, the employment of young people under 16 is allowed:

  • in family-run businesses,
  • during school holidays: minors who are no younger than 14 years old (13 years old in farm businesses) can be employed to carry out light work,
  • in the case of apprenticeships or sandwich courses,
  • in entertainment businesses and modelling.


There are two main types of contracts: permanent contracts and fixed-term contracts (the latter must be used in the cases and under the conditions laid down by law).


  • To replace an absent employee.
  • To cover business fluctuations.
  • Seasonal work (in agriculture, tourism, etc.).
  • In principle, these contracts have a maximum term of 18 months. In addition to their remuneration, employees receive a bonus for lack of job security of 10%. 

In the private sector, a contract can take 3 different forms. In principle, they are permanent but, in certain cases exhaustively listed by law, 

they can be for a fixed term (a term is provided for). The law also provides for the possibility of concluding assignment contracts on a temporary basis. Each form of contract is subject to specific rules.


  • Temporary employment contract. The temporary assignment is carried out for a period provided for in the contract which cannot exceed the maximum legal duration. That maximum legal duration varies depending on the nature of the assignment.

This type of contract is governed by the same rules as the fixed-term contract and is characterised by the relationship between:

the temporary employment agency,

the assigned employee,

the customer.

  • Employment under a ‘contract d'extra’ [contract for very short-term work] (customary fixed-term contract)

The ‘contract d'extra’ or customary contract is a particular type of fixed-term contract which allows an employer to hire an employee for the execution of a specific and temporary job (from a few hours to several days). This contract can be used only to meet occasional and immediate needs for a particular position. Such a contract can only be concluded in strictly defined sectors of activity.

  • Short-term employment contract

This type of contract is signed with a company in an industry sector which experiences genuine fluctuations throughout the year that it cannot always foresee.

  • Apprenticeship contract

This type of contract is aimed at young people, aged 16 to 25, who want to obtain a professional qualification. 

  • Senior fixed-term contract

The contract known as the senior fixed-term contract is a fixed-term contract which aims to facilitate the return to employment of seniors and allow them to acquire additional rights for drawing their pension. The duration of such a contract is specifically regulated.

  • Temporary permanent contract 

This employment contract guarantees temporary employees a minimum monthly remuneration during idle periods between two assignments.

  • Back-to-work contracts

Specific employment contracts exist to promote the recruitment of certain categories of unemployed people.

‘Contrat unique d'insertion’ [single integration contract] (CUI) - ‘Parcours emploi compétences’ [employment skills course] (PEC) ‘Contrat unique d'insertion’ [single integration contract] (CUI) - ‘Parcours emploi compétences’ [employment skills course] (PEC)

The ‘contrat unique d'insertion’ [single integration contract] (CUI) combines training and/or professional support for its beneficiary and financial assistance for the employer. Its purpose is to facilitate the hiring of people who have difficulty finding a job. 

A ‘contrat adultes-relais’ [community outreach contract] allows particular unemployed people to carry out local social and cultural mediation assignments as part of a back-to-work contract. Age and residency conditions must also be met. The employer must be an administration, an association or a private company responsible for managing a public service.

For more information, see the following section of this website ‘Working conditions 3.5 Specific working categories’.

Seasonal work

The French labour code defines seasonal works as those whose tasks are usually repeated each year on roughly fixed dates according to the pace of the seasons (agriculture,…) or of collective lifestyles (tourism,…). The seasonal nature of the job is a reason allowing the use of a fixed-term contract or a temporary contract with many particularities:

  • Exemption of the end-of-contract allowance,
  • It may not have a precise term however it must mention a minimum duration of employment,
  • In the case of a fixed-term contract, it may be renewed if it turns out that its character is indeed seasonal and the contract may include a renewal clause for the next season. In the case of a temporary contract, it may be renewed twice unless the duration is under 18 months.
  • It is not subject to any waiting period,

The “grape harvest” contract is a specific seasonal contract which allows hiring an employee for the preparation of the harvest, its realisation and the equipment storage work. It also has many particularities:

  • It can be signed by an employee on paid holiday for his activity for another company.
  • His duration is fixed to one month with a fixed term, otherwise it is concluded for the duration of the harvest.
  • It can be renewed without waiting period. In this case the accumulation of contracts must not exceed 2 months out of 12.
  • It can’t be renewed for the next season.

Labour market information

In France, we had between April 2018 and March 2019 a little more than 1 million seasonal workers. Half of them are hired in tourism activities including accommodation and catering. A quarter is hired in agriculture.

Seasonal jobs can be found on the French public employment service website: www.pole-emploi.fr. The French government launched a specific application to publish job offers for the essential sectors during the Covid-19 crisis. Now that the lockdown period is finished, this application is now dedicated to publish seasonal job offers: https://mobilisationemploi.gouv.fr/. 

Pôle Emploi launched another application dedicated to matching jobseekers and employers without the need of a CV where seasonal jobs are also proposed: https://maintenant.pole-emploi.fr/ 

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Employment contracts


The French Labour Code states that certain information must be given to the employee in writing, but not necessarily through a contract:

  • identity of the parties,
  • place of work,
  • the title, grade, category or nature of the job carried out by the employee or a brief description thereof,
  • start date of the contract,
  • number of paid leave days to which the employee is entitled or, failing that, the procedures for allocating and determining such leave;
  • notice periods,
  • information on the salary and the frequency of remuneration,
  • working hours: daily or weekly;
  • collective agreements which govern the working conditions.


The French Labour Code states that a written contract is required for fixed-term contracts, apprenticeship contracts, etc.


A distinction must be made between ‘changes to working conditions’, which the employer can decide unilaterally (hours, dates of leave, etc.), and ‘amendments to the employment contract’, which require the employee’s agreement and which concern:

  • remuneration methods or amounts, 
  • working hours,
  • place of work, 
  • employee’s classification, 
  • any other information deemed essential by the parties.

One exception to this is where the employee has agreed to the amendment in advance, for example, a mobility clause or non-competition clause under certain conditions. The employer must notify the employee of the amendment.  Failure by the employee to respond is taken as acceptance.


This is a significant reform of the Labour Code that implements the ‘Macron orders’ or ‘Orders of the Labour law’ of 22 September 2017 which gives company agreements a decisive role on many social issues.

A fixed-term contract can be renewed more than 2 times. The maximum number of times a fixed-term contract could possibly be renewed is fixed by a convention or agreement pronounced by the French Minister of Labour. In practice, this means that an agreement may very well provide for an employee’s work contract to be renewed 3 times, if not more.

It is only in case of failure to make this stipulation in the convention or agreement that the fixed-term contract is renewable 2 times for a fixed-term.

The purpose and result of this period cannot be to durably provide for a job that is linked to the company’s standard and permanent operations.

-Permanent contracts for work sites

The 2017 Labour Code reform has broadened the scope of use of permanent work site contracts, which are no longer reserved for the construction and public works sector. The work site contract or a contract for operations is a type of permanent contract. This type of contract allows an employer to hire employees to carry out a body of work or specific works, of which the exact end date cannot be determined in advance.

Permanent contracts can be terminated by the employer or the employee.

See the following section on this website: ‘Working conditions 3.10 End of employment’.

Websites to visit: www.travail-emploi.gouv.fr www.service-public.fr ; http://www.editions-legislatives.fr/ordonnance-macron

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Working time


In France the legal working week is 35 hours in all companies. The working day may not exceed 10 hours.

Furthermore, employees may not work for more than 4½ hours without a break. The maximum working day may be extended to 12 hours under a collective agreement.

In principle, employees may not work more than 48 hours per week, or 44 hours per week on average over 12 consecutive weeks (up to a maximum of 46 hours, under certain conditions).

Employees must be permitted to take breaks, lasting a minimum of 20 minutes, at least every 6 hours.

As part of the collective negotiation, the amended Article L 3121-19 of the French Labour Code indicates that the maximum daily amount of time actually worked can be extended:

  • In case of increased activity or for reasons linked to the company's organisation;
  • Provided that this extension does not extend the time worked to more than 12 hours. 


The maximum working day for under 18-year-olds and apprentices is 8 hours (7 hours per day for under 16-year-olds working during school holidays).

For under 18-year-olds and apprentices, the absolute maximum working week is 35 hours.

Employers must grant employees who are subject to the obligation to attend professional courses during their workday the necessary freedom with regard to this obligation.

The time spent training in an educational institution is considered to be time spent actually working.


All employees must be allowed a daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours (9 hours in certain cases depending on collective agreements).

The weekly rest period is often taken on Sundays.

It is forbidden to make an employee work more than 6 days per week. The weekly rest period must be at least 35 consecutive hours. However, exceptions may call the employees right to a weekly rest period into question. Special provisions apply to all employees under the age of 18.


The overtime worked by the employee is paid under the following conditions:

  • when the overtime has been completed as requested by the employer,
  • or when the overtime is directly carried out by the employee, without any objection on behalf of the employer (implicit agreement).

The payment of overtime is subject to an increased rate, fixed by a company or institution convention or collective agreement (or, failing that, a branch convention or agreement). Each rate is fixed at a minimum of 10%.

It should be noted that many exceptions exist, especially under collective agreements.

Some managerial staff classed as ‘non-office-based’ work more than 35 hours a week but receive additional days of leave.

Employees may need to work overtime beyond the applicable yearly quota. The conditions to fulfil this overtime are fixed by a company or institution convention or collective agreement (or, failing that, a branch convention or agreement).

In the absence of an agreement or convention, the rates of increase are fixed at:

  • 25% for the first 8 hours of overtime worked within the same week (from the 36th to the 43rd hour),
  • 50% for anything above eight hours.

However, the payment of overtime can be, fully or partially, replaced by an equivalent compensatory rest period. This rest period is implemented by a convention or an agreement (or, failing that, by the employer, unless staff representatives express their objection). In this case, the rest period is equivalent to the increased remuneration. For instance, one hour of overtime that would, in principle, be paid at an increased rate of 50 % gives the right to an equivalent compensatory rest period (i.e. one and a half hour).


Night work performed between 21:00 and 06:00 may not, in principle, exceed 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week (44 hours if authorised by decree or collective agreement). Night work is compensated by weekly rest periods or extra pay.

Employed pregnant women who work at night must be given daytime work during their pregnancy and during their legal postnatal leave if they so request.

See website: www.travail-emploi.gouv.fr

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Leave (annual leave, parental leave, etc.)


All employees are entitled to paid leave once they have worked at least one month during the reference period (which runs from 1 June of the previous year to 31 May of the ongoing year). 

Therefore, employees are entitled to two and a half working days of leave per month worked, i.e. five weeks of paid leave per year worked.

In principle, only the periods actually spent working are taken into account when calculating the entitlement to paid leave. Periods of absence from work are not counted. However, certain periods are regarded as periods actually worked (annual leave of the previous year, maternity leave, training leave, or sick leave) if the collective agreement specifies this.

Dates of paid leave are decided by mutual agreement between the employer and the employee, or, failing that, by the employer.


  • Sick leave: in order to receive daily sickness benefit, contributions must have been paid for 200 hours during the 3 months prior to the sick leave. On presentation of form E104, the periods for which contributions have been paid in another European country are taken into account.
  • Maternity leave: 16 weeks for one child (6 weeks before and 10 weeks after birth). 
  • Paternity leave 11 consecutive calendar days in the event of a single birth and 18 days in case of multiple births, calculated from the child’s date of birth.  This leave can only be taken in one continuous period. It can be taken together with the three days of leave granted on the birth of a child.
  • Child-care leave: following maternity leave, in order to look after the child, either employed parent may ask for this leave. Maximum duration: 3 years.
  • Parental leave (to look after a child who is disabled, has suffered an accident or is seriously ill).
  • Individual training leave (congé individuel de formation, CIF): this cannot exceed one year. Continued part payment of the salary is guaranteed.
  • Sabbatical leave (on personal grounds): between 6 and 11 months.

Eligibility for some of these types of leave may be conditional upon the length of service in the company or the minimum contributions paid to the public social security scheme.


In France, 11 public holidays are provided for by law (Article L. 3133-1 of the Labour Code): 1 January, Easter Monday, 1 May (Labour Day), 8 May (End of the Second World War), Ascension Thursday, Whit Monday, 14 July (Bastille Day), 15 August (Assumption), 1 November (All Saints), 11 November (End of the First World War) and 25 December (Christmas Day).

Only 1 May is a guaranteed paid holiday. The other public holidays are, generally, only paid if they fall on an ordinary working day.

Are non-working public holidays compulsory?

An employee can work on public holidays. Non-working public holidays are set out in a company or institution agreement or, failing that, a branch convention or agreement. In the absence of an agreement, it is the employer who specifies non-working public holidays.

Only 1 May is compulsorily non-working for all employees; however, it is possible to work on 1 May in establishments and services that cannot interrupt their activity. Those provisions are public policy.

There may be other public holidays in a region or in particular departments. For example, in the departments of Moselle, Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin, the list of holidays and non-working days is laid down by Article L. 3134-16 of the Labour Code:
26 December - Good Friday

See website: www.travail-emploi.gouv.fr

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SMIC (guaranteed minimum wage)

In France, the SMIC is the minimum wage that an employee can be paid. 

Only apprentices and young employees may be paid less than the SMIC. Collective agreements set minimum wages in line with employees’ qualifications, but these may never be less than the SMIC.

The gross amount of the SMIC in 2020 based on the legal working time, i.e. 35 hours per week or 151.67 hours per month, is EUR 1,539.50. 

The net SMIC amount which the employee receives depends on the company concerned and on the social contributions linked to the sector of activity. For home-based employees, the net SMIC amount stands at EUR 8.68 per hour. 

SMIC gross hourly rate:  EUR 10.15 in 2020.


In France, the only payroll deductions are social security contributions, as taxes have been deducted at source since 1 January 2019 and affect the income of the ongoing year. However, employees must declare their annual income in May.  

The difference between gross and net pay is around 23%. The amount of the tax levy depends on the tax rate. It can be deducted as a lump sum or in instalments. For more information: www.impots.gouv.fr


In principle, wages are paid monthly, on the same date each month and generally by bank transfer.
 Each employee must be given a payslip.

This payslip must include specific information:

  • employer (name, address, registration number, principal activity code (APE code), company registration number (Siret number), etc.); 
  • employee (name, job, position in the collective agreement classification); 
  • URSSAF (Social Security and Family Allowance Contribution Collection Office) (or agricultural social mutual fund, Mutualité sociale agricole) to which contributions are paid;
  • supplementary pension funds;
  • the applicable collective agreement;
  • components making up the gross pay (number of hours worked, number of hours paid at the standard rate and those paid at higher rates (for overtime or night work) indicating the rate(s) applied, bonuses subject to social security contributions (length of service bonus, performance bonus, lack of job security bonus and, where applicable, the differential supplement awarded due to reduced working hours for employees receiving the SMIC); 
  • the nature and amount of the flat rate for employees whose pay is calculated on the basis of a weekly or monthly flat rate in hours or an annual flat rate in hours or days;
  • social security and tax deductions: CRDS (social security debt repayment tax), CSG (general social security contribution), employee contributions;
  • any amounts not subject to deductions (reimbursement of business expenses); 
  • ‘net amount to be paid’ before tax.
  • ‘Net amount to be paid’, which is the amount that is actually paid to employees;
  • date of payment of this net amount;
  • dates of any paid leave included in the pay period and amount of the corresponding allowance.

The payslip must also state that the employee should keep the payslip indefinitely. This may be worded as follows: ‘pour vous aider à faire valoir vos droits, conservez ce bulletin de paie sans limitation de durée’ (please keep this payslip indefinitely as evidence of your rights). The employer must also keep these payslips, for five years after they have been issued.

Payslips should not refer to instances where employees can exercise the right to strike or to perform staff representation activities: 

  • hours not paid due to strike action are marked as ‘unpaid absence’; 
  • The time spent on trade union activities is included in the standard working hours.

See website: www.travail-emploi.gouv.fr

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End of employment


  • Resignation

There are no formal requirements governing resignation. However, it is advisable to give written notice (sent by registered letter with an acknowledgement of receipt) because the employee must give prior notice unless this occurs within the trial period.

  • Individual dismissal

There are three stages to the procedure for individual dismissal: 

  • inviting the employee to a preliminary meeting so that the parties can discuss matters;
  • notifying the dismissal (between two working days and one month after the meeting);
  • making severance payments in line with the collective agreement, except in cases of gross or serious misconduct.
  • Redundancy for economic reasons

This occurs when a job is cut or changed due to economic difficulties or technological changes. It is subject, under certain conditions, to an obligation to redeploy workers and set up an employment protection plan.

  • Termination on the expiry of a fixed-term contract

Fixed-term contracts end when their term expires. No prior notice needs to be given. A lack of job security bonus of 10% is payable.

  • Contractual termination

Contractual termination is a type of termination by mutual consent. In order to be valid, the parties must follow a procedure during which they negotiate and sign a termination agreement, which must be approved by the relevant Regional Directorate for Business, Competition, Consumer Affairs, Labour and Employment (DIRECCTE) or by the labour inspectorate for protected employees (staff representatives, occupational doctor).

  • Settlement

This is not a form of termination of the employment contract.
It is a contract through which the parties prevent or end a dispute. It involves reciprocal concessions, but the employee cannot receive an amount in compensation which is less than the sums laid down contractually and legally.

  • Retirement

The legal retirement age depends on the employee’s year of birth. It is set to gradually increase from 60 to 62 years of age. Employees can take retirement between 60 and 70 years of age.  Above the age of 70, employers can force employees to retire (since 2010). 

The bill establishing a universal pension system was submitted to the Council of Ministers on 24 January 2020.

The bill will be put to a vote by Parliament by the end of the 2020 summer parliamentary session

After the law has been passed, a period of a few years will be necessary, in particular, to make the necessary adjustments in practice. The High Commissioner for Pensions will coordinate the application of the law at the regulatory level (drafting of implementing texts), at the institutional level, in particular with pension funds, and the operational level (deployment of information systems and services to users).

The retirement allowance is equal to:

  • either the minimum legal redundancy pay (1/10 of the monthly wage per year of service; additional 1/15 of the monthly wage per year of service beyond 10 years),
  • or the retirement allowance laid down by the collective agreement or the employment contract, whichever is more favourable.

See website:https://solidarites-sante.gouv.fr/

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Top of Form

The health system


Before going to a doctor or dentist, you need to check that the latter is linked to the state health scheme (‘conventionné’). There are two types of such doctors: those who fully adhere to the state scheme agreement and apply the agreed fees, and those who adhere to the agreement but are free to set their fees. You can find health professionals, in relation to where you live, and obtain information about their fees on the following website: http://ameli-direct.ameli.fr/nouvelle-recherche/professionnels-de-sante.html

In both cases, the reimbursement made by the CPAM (Primary health insurance fund) will be based on the agreed fees.


The French hospital system consists of public healthcare institutions, which provide a public health service under state control, and private healthcare establishments. If you are admitted to a private establishment, you need to check that this establishment is in the state scheme.


In France, prescription drugs are only available in a pharmacy. Over-the-counter medicines are available in pharmacies, chemists and in some large stores. 


Medical expenses are reimbursed at the rate of 70% of the agreed fee. For example, the agreed fee for a consultation with a general practitioner is € 25 and with a specialist the fee varies between EUR 50 and 80. For a general practitioner, the reimbursement made by the local sickness insurance fund will be EUR 16.10, so you will have to pay EUR 6.90. The indicated reimbursement amount takes account of the patient’s contribution (‘ticket modérateur’) and the flat-rate contribution (‘participation forfaitaire’) of one euro.

As a general rule, health insurance does not reimburse all expenses, as part must be paid by the insured (this is the ‘ticket modérateur’).

You can see the various reimbursement rates on the following website: 


Text last edited on: 08/2020

Incomes and taxation


In France, at-source tax deduction entered into force on 1 January 2019. At-source tax deduction aims to adapt tax collection in a given year to real situations (income, life events) to that given year, without changing the original rules of calculation. It aims to close the one-year gap between the moment when income is received and when the tax regarding this income must be paid. 

You must pay taxes if you are older than 18 years old and if you live in France, i.e.:

  • you permanently live in France with your family,
  • your principal residence is in France,
  • your main professional activity is in France,
  • your main economic interests are in France.

On the basis of the components included in the 2017 tax return filed in 2018, the tax administration has calculated the applicable tax rate of 2019. As soon as the first part of the income of 2019 is received, this rate is applied to the salary: the at-source tax deduction is automatic.

The payslip clearly indicates the applicable tax rate and the amount of the at-source deducted tax, as well as the salary before and after the at-source tax deduction.

For more information, visit the website of the Directorate General of Public Finance: www.impots.gouv.fr


Tax deducted at source is calculated on the basis of the net taxable remuneration multiplied by the applicable tax rate.

How is the net taxable remuneration calculated?

Net taxable remuneration = net remuneration (gross - social security contributions) + CSG/CRDS (social contributions) that are non-deductible (i.e. not taxable).

Therefore, the amount of the taxable income is slightly higher than the received income since it includes, including the net remuneration, the non-deductible CSG and CRDS (social contributions).

This rule to determining the taxable remuneration is not connected to the at-source tax deduction which does not change the amount and the calculation methods of income taxes. The amount of the taxable remuneration is set out in the payslip or on your online personal space if you are retired.


For employees, tax is deducted at source by the third party which provides your income (employer, individual employer, etc.) depending on a tax rate calculated and forwarded by the tax administration. The implementation of the tax deduction is automatic.


Anyone who has a private dwelling in France on 1 January of the tax year must pay local taxes. Local authorities (region, department, communes) vote on tax rates which, therefore, vary from one commune to another.

Owners also have to pay a property tax.

VAT (Value Added Tax) 

Four rates apply in France:

The standard VAT rate is set at 20% for the majority of sales of goods and services: it applies to all goods or services for which no other rate is expressly provided.

The reduced rate of 10% is specifically applicable to unprocessed agricultural products, firewood, work to improve housing which does not benefit from the rate of 5.5%, certain accommodation and camping services, fairs and shows, games and fairground rides, entrance fees to museums, zoos, monuments, passenger transport, waste treatment, and catering.

The reduced rate of 5.5% covers most food products, feminine hygienic protection products, equipment and services for the disabled, books on any medium, gas and electricity subscriptions, supply of heat from renewable energies, supply of meals in school canteens, tickets for live entertainment and cinema, particular imports and deliveries of works of art, work to improve the energy rating of housing, social or emergency housing, and home ownership.

The special rate of 2.1% is reserved for medication reimbursable by social security, sales of live animals for butchery and prepared meats to non-taxable persons, television license fees, certain shows and press publications registered with the Joint committee on publications and press agencies.

The particular rates applicable in Corsica are fixed in Article 297 of the General Tax Code (CGI).

The particular rates applicable to overseas departments are fixed in Articles 294 et seq. of the CGI.

See website: http://www.economie.gouv.fr/

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The educational system


In France, education is compulsory from 3 to 16 years of age. There are state-run schools (secular and free of charge), private schools under contract to the State (which must adhere to the Ministry’s official guidelines and curricula) and other private schools who are not under contract.  



Primary school encompasses nursery schools and elementary schools.

  • Nursery school is for children aged 3 to 6 (children who are 2½ years old are accepted under certain conditions). On 13 February 2019, the French National Assembly voted to lower the age of compulsory education from 6 to 3 years of age. 
  • Elementary school is for all children, both French and foreign, between the ages of 6 and 11. It covers five years:  CP (first year), CE1-CE2 (second and third years) and CM1-CM2 (fourth and fifth year).


  • Lower secondary school (‘collège’) is for children aged 11 to 15 and covers the first three years. In principle, all children receive the same education. The ‘Diplôme National du Brevet’ is awarded at the end of lower secondary school.
  • Upper secondary school (‘lycée’) is for teenagers from 15 to 18 years of age. It comprises three years called: Seconde, Première and Terminale (respectively the first, second, and third and final years of upper secondary school). Upper secondary schools offer a wide variety of subjects. There are two types of school: those offering a general and technological education, ending with the Baccalauréat, and those vocational schools ending with the CAP (certificate of vocational proficiency), the BEP (vocational training certificate) or the ‘Baccalauréat professionnel’ (vocational Baccalauréat).

The Baccalauréat is a qualification which marks the completion of secondary education and gives access to higher education.


  • Two-year courses: the DUT (Technological university diploma), awarded by IUTs (University institutes of technology), and the BTS (higher vocational training certificate).
  • Universities receive the majority of higher education students (approximately 1.5 million students, 10% of whom are foreign students). Admissions are conditional upon the Baccalauréat or the foreign qualification, which give access to university studies in the country of origin. Universities offer a wide choice of subjects in 3 years (Bachelor’s Degree), 4 years (Master’s Degree 1), 5 years (Master’s Degree 2) or 8 years (Doctorate).
  • Colleges (Grandes Écoles) such as the ENA (National School of Administration), the École Polytechnique, the HEC Paris, and also many engineering and business schools. Candidates work hard for two years in ‘Classes Préparatoires’ [preparatory classes] in order to sit national entrance examinations for these colleges.

Websites to visit: www.education.gouv.fr - www.enseignementsup-recherche.gouv.fr

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Cultural and social life


Culture is an important aspect of France’s image in the world. This image is connected with the use of the language in international institutions and its important cultural heritage. This heritage is extremely varied: towns and cities, historical monuments, listed, ancient and religious sites, castles, and urban or natural sites, most of which are open to visitors. Whether they are public or private, these places attract a large number of visitors from around the world and make France one of the main international tourism destinations.

It is also well-known that gastronomy is inseparable from French cultural life. There are restaurants which offer ‘terroir’ [local] cuisine (traditional French), for all budgets. France offers many high-quality regional products, some of the best known being its wines and cheeses.

See website: www.tourisme.fr


The practice of sport has considerably increased in recent years. There are around 10 million members of sports federations: football and tennis are the two sports clubs with the most members.

Leisure activities such as the theatre, cinema, concerts and exhibitions are advertised in many newspapers, on town hall websites and on specialist websites

such as: www.allocine.fr - http://spectacles.premiere.fr/pariscope/theatre

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