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Hire Employees in France - Overview

France is one of Europes’s — and the world’s — strongest economies. France is an innovation and tech capital, with a well-educated and highly-skilled workforce.

France is a prime location for hiring overseas staff, but in doing so it is crucial to follow French labor laws and employment ettiquette.

In this guide we set out everything you need to know about hiring employees in France.

france map

Facts & Stats

 

Population

68M (Labor Force 30 million)

Capital City

Paris

Languages Spoken

French

Currency

Euro (EUR)

GDP per capita

$38,210

Ease of Doing Business

32nd in the world

Minimum Wage

€1,766.92/Month (2022)

Average Wage

€2340 net/Month (2022)

Paid Leave

5 weeks per year (2.5 days of paid leave per month worked) N.B. There are statutory rules for taking paid leave

France: Business Environment

Business outlook

The French economy experienced a strong rebound in 2021 (6.8%yoy GDP growth), but during Q1 2022 France’s economic output declined by 0.2%. However, the European Commission expects moderate growth over the next couple of years with a projected GDP increase of 2.4% in 2022 and 1.4% in 2023. According to J.P.Morgan , there is a lot of optimism in the French business community. The large majority of executives interviewed for their survey expressed moderate or greater confidence that their businesses will thrive in 2022. But when you look at the Trading Economics manufacturing climate indicator in France, it fell for a third month to 102 in September 2022, highlighting a perceived economic uncertainty amongst industrial entrepreneurs.

Business regulation

The labour laws in France are designed to significantly protect their labor force and make it difficult for an employer to exploit their workers.

Whilst adhering to international and EU law, domestically the French Labour Code determines nearly every aspect of French employment law. France has particularly strong and motivated trade unions, which means employers regularly need to negotiate with them and may have to enter collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) with multiple unions. These factors add to the complexity of employing workers in France, so it’s vital to understand the procedures.

France also has employee representative bodies who represent French employees with employers:

  • The Social and Economic Committee (CSE) is the employee representation body in France, composed of elected staff members (elections take place every four years in principle), in companies with at least 11 employees.

In companies with less than 50 employees, the staff delegation to the CSE is responsible for presenting to the employer individual or collective complaints from employees (relating to wages, the application of the Labor Code, etc.).

In companies with more than 50 employees, the employer must inform and consult the Committee on questions and projects concerning the organisation, management and general running of the company (for example: restructuring projects). This consultation must take place before any implementation of the employer’s decision. In addition, the Committee is consulted periodically (in principle: every year) on the strategic orientation of the company, the economic and financial situation of the company and the social policy of the company.

  • Trade Unions negotiate and conclude collective bargaining agreements with employers’ organisations. The union representative in a company functions as the negotiator between the employer and union organization and is called upon to negotiate whenever the employer wishes to open discussions with a view to concluding an agreement and, at a minimum, during any required compulsory periodic negotiations. In companies with 0 to 50 employees the trade union will appoint 1 employee to the social and economic committee (“CSE”), and in companies with 50 to 499 employees they will appoint 1 union delegate.

Business culture

France is a popular destination for professional expatriates, with many European headquarters based in the major cities of Paris and Lyon. French, the national language of France, is highly regarded as a symbol of their culture. The people of France generally prefer to speak and be spoken to, in French. While at many international companies it is perfectly possible to get by with English alone, taking the time to learn the basics will be considered respectful.

In general, the French workplace is quite formal and conservative. Appointments are usually made for all business matters; dropping in unannounced to discuss a work matter can be frowned upon.

There is very much a ‘work hard’ ethos across businesses in France. The usual day is from about 9am to 6pm, with a long lunch of anything up to two hours. It’s not uncommon to work late into the evening when necessary to meet deadlines. However, there are favourable employment laws to restrict working hours, which is one of the reasons that France is considered a good place to work. There is a 35-hour working week by law, but there is flexibility in this to allow for legal overtime where needed.

In 2018, for the first time in history, Paris became the most attractive European city, ahead of London, for businesses to invest in, according to a report by Ernst & Young.

Recruiting employees in France

Recruiting employees in France – Overview

Searching for jobs online is common practice in France, as with most other countries, but there are a number of options to gain maximum exposure for job advertisements. As well as using well known recruitment websites, such as Indeed or Jooble, you could also place a classified advert in technical or vocational schools, connect with potential candidates through social-media type recruitment sites, such as LinkedIn or Viadeo, or place an announcement in a local newspaper.

The main challenge with recruiting in France is ensuring you are compliant with the various, and at times complex, regulations. The entire recruitment process must abide by the principle of non-discrimination, and while this might sound obvious in today’s world, the French definition of discrimination is much wider than most countries. The laws prohibit basic things such as discrimination based on gender, age, ethnicity, disabilities, trade union support, appearance, and religion, but also more specific things such as marital status, language (other than French), and more. Additionally, French employers cannot ask about a candidate’s criminal record if it is not directly relevant to the position.

This is why many companies hire a global PEO to work with them when recruiting.

Most important recruitment tools in France

  • LinkedIn
    https://www.linkedin.com
    LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network on the internet where professionals connect, share and learn. Many individuals also use it to find the right job or internship and it is an essential tool for most recruiters.
  • Indeed
    https://fr.indeed.com
    Indeed is the number 1 job site in the world with over 250 million unique visitors every month. It is accessible in more than sixty countries and twenty-eight languages, offering employers the most comprehensive and diverse talent pool of job seekers.
  • Apec
    https://www.apec.fr
    APEC (Association Pour l’Emploi des Cadres) is a major French organization dedicated to the employment of management staff: CEOs, General Managers, supervisors, engineers, expert skilled staff and has a presence across the whole of France. It is the leading employment website in the country, with an average of 2.2 million unique visitors monthly, and is the official job board for executives in France.

Interviewing employees in France

Interviewing employees in France – Overview

Following the lockdowns experienced worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic, candidates and companies alike have become much more used to using online video interviews during recruitment, so a remote interview is a perfectly acceptable option.

Because of the complexity of the laws prohibiting discrimination during the hiring process and the limits on the types of information you can request, directly or indirectly, about a job candidate, it is important to avoid asking probing questions that may stray into these areas when interviewing potential candidates in France. It is best to only talk about the job and things that are directly relevant.

Ask yourself, Do I really need to collect this particular piece of information, is

Can I ask the candidate’s previous salary in France?

In France, unless a candidate reveals his or her salary history, you may not inquire about it. This includes asking for previous pay slips.

 

What is the typical salary increase at a new job in France?

The average salary increase when changing jobs in France is 10 – 20%.

Onboarding employees in France

Onboarding employees in France – Overview

Onboarding new employees in France will vary from company to company. There is no one specific way this should be done. While this means you are able to onboard and train new employees as you see fit, a good onboarding process means your new hire is more likely to learn what is expected of them and begin contributing quicker.

Given the strict labour laws in France, it is important to go through their employment contract with them before or during their first day, highlight important company policies, and discuss things like your employee code of conduct or additional job expectations of them. You will also want to complete any necessary paperwork and arrange any training needed before your new employee begins their duties.

In addition, all employees are entitled to a medical check-up, known as an information and prevention visit (IPV) within three months of them taking up employment in a company and is renewed once every five years, unless advised differently by a doctor. Its purpose is to protect the employee both from performing work they may not be physically able to perform and to ensure they remain safe in the workplace. It takes place via a video call from CMIE (Goglobal dedicated Medical Center). It costs USD250, charged at the start of the employee’s employment and then every 12 months after.

Best remote working tools to use in France

In France, as in other countries, remote work, or “le télétravail” is on the rise. The tools used in France to enable employees to work remotely are typically those used in other countries, such as: Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Trello, Microsoft Office Online, Google G-Suite, Monday etc. Whatever systems you already use in your company, should prove suitable for employees in France.

Holiday season in France — 2024

Under French law, employers are only required to give their employees one public holiday off: Worker’s Day (Fête du travail). However, employers generally give their employees all 10 of France’s public holidays off. Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) may also dictate that employees get these days off.

There are eleven national holidays in France which are not included in the minimum holiday entitlement, plus additional ones for some French regions:

DateHoliday name
1 Jan, 2024New Year’s Day (Jour de l’an)
1 Apr, 2024Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques)
01 May, 2024Worker’s Day (Fête du travail)
08 May, 2024World War II Victory Day (Fête du Huit mai or Fête de la Victoire 45)
09 May, 2024Ascension Day (Jour de l’ascension)
20 May, 2024Whit Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte)
14 Jul, 2024Bastille Day (Fête Nationale)
15 Aug, 2024Assumption (Assomption)
01 Nov., 2024All Saints’ Day (La Toussaint)
11 Nov, 2024Armistice Day (Jour d’Armistice)
25 Dec, 2024Christmas Day (Noël)

There are additional Regional holidays for Alsace, Moselle/Lorraine, Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin:

DateHoliday name
29 Mar, 2024Good Friday (Vendredi saint)
25 Dec, 2024Boxing Day/Saint Stephen’s Day (Deuxième jour de Noël)

There are also special public holidays for the commemoration of the abolition of slavery for overseas regions. The dates and regions are:

DateHoliday name
27 Apr, 2024Mayotte
22 May, 2024Martinique
27 May, 2024Guadeloupe and Saint-Martin
10 Jun, 2024Guyane
09 Oct, 2024Saint-Barthélemy
20 Dec, 2024– La Réunion

In France, if a public holiday falls on a weekend, the bank holiday does not move over to the next working day.

One of the benefits of using our PEO service is that our team is on hand to provide a detailed local holiday schedule for your employees when you begin hiring.

What is the typical salary increase employees in France expect?

Employees in France expect an annual salary increase of between 3% – 15%, depending on their experience level, industry they work in and their performance.

However, people rarely have their salary reviewed exactly at the 12 months mark. Salaryexplorer.com calculate that the 2021 average salary increase in one year (12 months) in France is 7%. They also provide the 2021 average salary increase rate by Experience Level:

  • Junior level: 3-5%
  • Mid-career: 6-9%
  • Senior level: 10-15%
  • Top management: 15-20%

FAQs

This question is extremely personal and based on your exact situation, risk tolerance, and the type of work you need to have done.

In general, we would recommend to have international and French tax professionals assess your situation and advise you on whether you should hire a French freelancer or a French employee. In most cases, hiring an employee will come with the least risk, but it would also require specialized knowledge of French employment law. Hiring your employee with Horizons would fulfil that requirement and allow you to hire employees in France with ease.

Yes, you can hire foreign employees in France, providing they have all the required permits to live and work in France.

While this is possible, employing an independent contractor in France is highly risky because French law does not prefer this form of employment.

We recommend reconsidering this option because firms must deal with a litany of repercussions should the authorities decide that an independent contractor has been misclassified and is, in fact, an employee.

First, the individual will be reclassified as an employee, forcing the firm to deal with the burdensome labor laws or pay a steep severance package. Then, the company will also have to:

  • Pay the employee a retroactive salary, benefits, social security contributions, and back taxes—all with significant interest
  • Pay overtime, bonus, and other discretionary benefits arrears
  • Potentially be liable for criminal “Shadow Employment” charges. A firm’s legal representative could serve up to three years in prison and be personally fined up to €45,000. An additional fine of €225,000 may be handed down to the company itself.

Finally, a business can be banned from using independent contractors for two to ten years.

Setting up a subsidiary in France takes both time and money.  You’ll need to consider many different factors during the subsidiary setup process, such as what industry or type of business you want to organize? Do you have any trade agreements or important relationships? Have you considered the nationality of the individuals you want to hire?

The most common form of a subsidiary is a private limited liability company called a SARL (société á responsabilité limitée) in France. To set up a private LLC, you’ll need to:

  • Check the availability of your company name
  • Open a commercial bank account
  • Establish a physical office in France
  • Appoint an auditor
  • Publish your French subsidiary’s incorporation in the official journal
  • Register your company for taxes, social security, and insurances
  • Stamp your company books at Commercial Court

There are numerous French subsidiary laws you will need to follow when preparing to set up your subsidiary, including various French accounting and tax requirements. If your company is outside the European Union (EU), the withholding tax on dividends is 25%, but you can get lower taxes because of double tax treaties signed by France.

According to France subsidiary laws, you’ll need:

  • At least two individuals or corporate bodies to form the subsidiary
  • At least one euro as minimum share capital
  • A manager who is a French resident or from the EEA
  • No more than 100 shareholders

It can take weeks or even months to set up a subsidiary in France, but In most cases, the fastest and safest way (from a compliance perspective) to get operations started in France is to hire your first several employees with a global EOR like Horizons.

The process of hiring employees in France can be straightforward. If you have already identified a candidate, you can contact us for a free consultation and detailed description of how we can hire your French team in the next 48 hours.

Hiring in France, Made Easy

Your business can easily hire employees in France without opening a local entity. We handle local employment law, complex tax regulations, and international payroll in 180+ countries worldwide. All you need to do is focus on your business.

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