At Work in Paris

Work Usage in Paris

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France offers a modern work environment comparable to most of Western Europe. As an international destination, many people are interested in living and working in France.

Working Hours

Opening hours vary between cities, but most businesses are generally between 9:00 to 18:00 from Monday to Friday. Businesses are usually closed on Sundays, and possibly on Mondays. There is usually an hour break for lunch around midday, although shops/businesses in larger cities will usually stay open. In addition, many restaurants and shops close for up to a month from mid-July to the end of August for holidays.

The French Employment Code provides for a standard work week (temps de travail) is 35 hours (since 1997). Overtime payments are usually fixed by collective agreement, but must be at least 10 percent extra per hour. There is a maximum limit of 48 hours per week, and even in exceptional circumstances working time may not exceed 60 hours per week. At executive's level, there is not standard work week but the law compensate with granting some extra "holidays" (known as RTT - Réduction du Temps de Travail - from a few additional days to several weeks, depending on the collective agreement).


No worker in France can be paid less then this mandatory minimum rate of pay. The current minimum wage (Salaire Minimum Interprofessionnel de Croissance - SMIC) is July 2012:

  • €9.43 Hourly
  • 1,430.22 € per month for 151.67 hours worked (or 7 hours every weekday of the month)


Paris offers competitive salaries. Many companies offer an extra salary payments once or twice a year (December and/or June). Referred to as the 13th and 14th month's salary, these are included in total amount of the annual gross salary. Salary rates vary, but an example of averages offers sample salaries.

    Some examples of average salaries (€, per year) based on career:
  • Sr. Consultant: 50,000-100,000 (depending on the industry)
  • Jr. Software Engineer: 32,000
  • Information Technology (IT) manager: 60,000


An employment contract must be in writing to be enforceable. The employee should read and understand all conditions before signing. If it is in a language other than your mother tongue, you should allow a trusted advisor (like a lawyer or close friend) that is fluent in the language to inspect it.

    Contracts should include:
  • Job description
  • Employee's job title
  • Salary
  • Convention Collective relative to the employment
  • Notice period in case of resignation
  • Place of work
  • Duration of the contract

Contrat à Durée Déterminée (CDD)

Most new jobs come in the form of a full-time fixed term contact (CDD) which is a temporary contract. At the end of a CDD, the employee's contract is either terminated, or renewed. A CDD is usually only renewed once (9 months is normal) and the total duration of employment cannot exceed 18 months.

Contrat à Durée Indéterminée (CDI)

Open-ended contracts allow for a person to be employed with a company for no set limit. There is usually a 3-month trial period at the start of the employment (often renewed once). Either party can elect to terminate a contract, but it is very difficult to fire someone without wrongful action (the body in charge of disputes is called Conseil de prud'hommes, and often grants rights to the employee).

Contrat Temporaire

Temporary contracts are limited-term contracts. Contract conditions are similar to that of a CDD. These agreements are between employee, the employment agency and the employing company.

Contrat de travail à temps Partiel

Part-time contracts are less than 80 percent of legal or contractual working hours. A minimum of 60 hours/month are required to qualify for social security benefits.

Le travail Intermittent

Intermittent employment or seasonal contracts are limited to work in which labour requirements depend entirely on seasonal factors. Most common in tourism or agricultural sectors, contract conditions are similar to that of a CDD. However, these agreements are between employee, the employment agency and the employing company. Companies can only use a temporary employee for the performance of a short-term activity.


An employee has been terminated when an employer brings the contract of employment to an end. This may be due to redundancy or dismissal because of fault of the employee. An employee may submits a voluntary termination by leaving the job.

To fire an employee, the employer should conduct a formal dismissal interview (entretien préalable). A registered letter must be sent to notify the employee which states:

  • Reasons for the interview
  • Location
  • Date
  • Time
They must be given five days notice. If the dismissal is disciplinary, it is necessary to make the invitation within two months of learning about the event/s or reasons leading to the dismissal. Going to the meeting is not compulsory, although it is informational.

The employee may appeal (recours) if dismissed for reasons that are not fair or justified. If you have worked for more than two years and your company has eleven or more employees, a judge deciding you have been unfairly dismissed can force your re-employment with full benefits. An employer deciding not to re-employ can be ordered to pay compensation equivalent to at least 6 months' salary (with 2 years or more in employment) or compensation for damages (less than 2 years in employment).

The employer has to give the following documents to the employee at the end of the contract:
Certificate stating position held (certificat de travail)
Attestation Assédic for the Assédic which allows the person to claim unemployment benefits

Time Off

Workers have the right to paid leave with annual leave (congés annuels) offered at two and a half days of paid leave per month worked (roughly 5 full weeks of vacation a year as Saturdays is considered a working days). Some employers are more flexible in calculation, allowing you to borrow on your next period for vacation days. Large corporations may also give additional vacation days depending on how many years the employee has worked for a company (ancienneté). Additional days may also be given for birth of child, death of a family member, marriage or moving home. The number of days and conditions depends on the employer.

Traditionally, many people take their vacation in August. Some companies may officially close during this time and many small businesses will be shut.


There are eleven public holidays (jours fériés). On these days, most public/government offices and many private businesses will be closed. There are also many school holidays (national and regional) during the year. If a national holidays falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, the Monday or Friday is often taken off (faire un pont) for a long weekend.

  • New Year's Day (Nouvel an, Jour de l'An) - January lst
  • Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques) - March or April
  • Labour Day (Fête de travail) - May lst
  • Victory (Fête de la liberation - end of WWII 1945) - May 8th
  • Ascension Day (Ascension) - sixth Thursday after Easter, usually in May
  • Whit Monday (Pentecôte) - second Monday after Ascension, May or June
  • Bastille Day (Fête Nationale) - July 14th
  • Assumption (Assomption) - August 15th
  • All Saints' Day (Toussaint) - November lst
  • Armistice 1918 Day (Fête de l'Armistice) - November 11th
  • Christmas Day (Noel) - December 25th

Update 13/02/2013


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