Employment International: Who benefits from French employment law rights?

Written on 5 Nov 2015

Whether or not an employee can benefit from French employment rights is governed by European regulations and directives which focus on where the employee has his “effective workplace”.

In a nutshell, if the employee’s effective workplace is located on French territory, he/she will benefit, at the very least, from French mandatory rules.

Who can benefit from French employment rights?

  • Employees working on French territory:
    When a company whose head office is based outside of French territory posts its employees in France, even if this is for a limited period of time, these employees will benefit from the “mandatory rules”. These rules cover certain provisions of the French Labour Code, including terms of pay, working time and working conditions.
    These mandatory rules will benefit seconded and expatriate employees and employers must also comply with other administrative formalities such as compulsory pre-declaration and a work authorisation application.
  • Employees working abroad:
    What are the rights of employees working mostly in France, under an employment contract subject to French law, but who also regularly travel abroad for professional reasons?In these circumstances, employers must bear in mind that the employee still benefits from all French employment rights (and potentially also from any mandatory employment rights of the country where the employee is temporarily working). For example, if the employment contract provides for a 35 hour working week, the employee may ask for the payment of overtime if he/she is working additional hours while working abroad. Pursuant to French law, travelling time and professional evening events may, in certain circumstances, be considered as working time.

What are the key employment rights to be aware of?

The key mandatory rules applying to all employees carrying out their duties on French territory include:

  • Minimum wage and payment of salary, including overtime payments – The minimum monthly wage for 2015 is 1,457.52€ gross.
  • Working time rules covering compensatory rest, bank holidays and paid vacation – The working time scheme specifies a 35 hour week and overtime performed on top of this carries a right to overtime payments. Employees are entitled to minimum weekly “compensatory rest” and to 25 days’ of paid holiday per year.
  • Rules related to health and safety in the workplace – Employers must ensure employees are provided with a safe place of work and must take account of the occupational risks the employee may be exposed to (for example, noise pollution, work carried out at height). Employers must take steps to ensure employees working in the open air are protected against atmospheric conditions, are not exposed to harmful noise levels, have safety equipment available to them, (a helmet must be worn for certain types of work), and cannot slip or fall. All employees are entitled to protection against physical and mental harassment.
  • The right to strike, protection against discrimination and professional inequality between men and women and specific protection during pregnancy and family related leave.
  • Specific rights for employees of temporary employment agencies – Employers must comply with the rules restricting use of temporary workers and the temporary worker must benefit from the same working conditions as employees of the user company.
  • Collective bargaining – If the foreign employee performs an activity that falls within the scope of a collective bargaining agreement, he/she may request the benefit of the provisions of that agreement.

Are there any French employment rights overseas employees do not benefit from?

In most of the cases, employees posted temporarily to French territory do not benefit from the employment provisions covering signature or breach of the employment contract, staff representation, vocational training, and health insurance matters; the laws of the employee’s home country will apply to these issues in most cases.