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The Employer’s Guide to Employee Benefits in France

employee benefits in France

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Key Takeaways

1. French citizens and residents have access to a wide range of mandated and supplementary employment benefits in France which make sure employees can enjoy a good work/life balance. 

2. French employees have the right to many mandated leave entitlements, while only having to work a maximum of 35-hour a week. During any given year, full time employees can have either 2.5 paid days off a month, or 5 weeks paid holiday leave.

3. Employers are mandated to pay part contributions towards an employee’s health insurance and old-age insurance. They can also offer voluntary private health insurance packages to attract the best talent.

4. One way for international companies to remain competitive in the French market is by offering optional benefits including meal vouchers, an extra month’s salary, wellness extras, or payments for work equipment.

5. Whether you are looking to diversify your team, or just try out a new market, a Global EOR/PEO can help you hire French employees support your entrance into French market quickly and compliantly.

Workers enjoy a wide range of mandatory and non-mandatory employment benefits in France, with all benefits as an addition to their regular wage or salary. Employers looking to hire employees in France must be aware of what their minimum obligations are in terms of employee benefits, so they can be compliant with French employment law and know the costs around hiring in France. Knowing the benefits can also help employers know if they need to offer extra benefits on top to attract and procure top talent in France and remain competitive in their field. 

This article is an employer’s guide that goes through the mandatory employee benefits in France.  

What are employee benefits in France relating to working hours and overtime?

The French labour code stipulates several mandatory benefits that French citizens working within French jurisdiction are entitled to. The first block of important mandatory benefits relates to working hours, overtime, and minimum wage.

The French enjoy much shorter working weeks than many other countries as a government mandated benefit. There are also strict daily hourly limits and overtime rules that employers must adhere to. Some of these mandated rules are discussed below.

  • Weekly limits
  • The weekly limit for full-time employees is a maximum working time of 35-hours a week. This rule only applied to companies with 20 or more employees. It is possible however, for employees to negotiate in the form of a Réduction du temps de travail (RTT), which translates to ‘Reduction of working time’. This is an arrangement between employer and employee that can increase the weekly hour maximum, but through adding extra compensated days off. Despite this option, the arrangement must still abide to a not going over an average maximum limit of 44 hours a week for 12 consecutive weeks. 
  • Daily Limits
  • Employees can work a daily maximum working limit of 10 hours a day. However, any applicable collective agreements or contracts between employer and employee can push this limit to 12 hours a day.
  • Overtime (OTT)
  • If any employees surpass the mandated 35-hour weekly working hours, with no other agreement in place, than an employer is mandated to pay overtime. Rates start at 25% on top of their base hourly rate for the first 8 hours, then 50% on top after that. 
  • Minimum Wage
  • The current statutory minimum wage in France that any full-time employee over the age of 18 are entitled to before collective bargaining agreements take effect (if applicable) is €1,603.12 or €10.57 per hour for full-time workers.

What are the employee benefits in France relating to leave?

French employees get a lot of paid time off in comparison to many other countries. Under French law, this time off includes annual, sick, and parental leave.

  • Annual Leave
  • Full time employees have the right to a minimum of 5-week paid time annually or a total of 2.5 days off work each month.
  • Sick Leave
  • If an employee gets sick, there is two different types of sick leave that an employee is entitled too. This includes the mandated minimum provided by the French Government and if any collective bargaining or individual contracts stipulate even greater protections for sick leave entitlements.
  • The mandated minimum that employees are entitled to is up to 6 months sick pay, if 150 hours of work has been logged 3-months preceding illness. If they have worked more than 600-hours in 12 months, then they may be entitled to more. French employees are also entitled to death leave, which is where the surviving relative can access a portion of the deceased pension. Private health insurance plans can also provide an extra safety net for employees.
  • Maternity leave
  • Expecting mother in France are entitled to a minimum of 8 weeks paid maternity leave in the prenatal stages of their pregnancy. They are then entitled to anywhere between 16 to 48 weeks of paid leave after giving birth. Benefit payments are made daily and are based on the average salary 3-months prior to their pre-natal leave.
  • Paternity leave
  • Fathers are entitled to time off and leave payments, but considerably less than their partners. In total, an expecting fathers can have up to 28 days paternity leave benefits, or 32 days if the family has twins.
  • Adoption Leave
  • Employees who have chosen to adopt have access to up to 10 weeks adoption leave to settle in with their new child. If they adopt two children, this extends to 22 weeks paid time off.
  • The key criteria that make employees eligible for any form of parental benefit registration with French Social security 10 months before the birth and have worked a minimum of 200 hours in the 3 months preceding pre-natal leave.
  • Other leave benefits
  • There are a total of 11 public holidays in France annually, with Labour Day being the only mandatory paid day off for many French employees. However, employers should keep track of the other 10 public holidays. Employees are also entitled to family-related days off including for weddings or deaths.  

Employee healthcare contributions in France

French residents enjoy universal health care which is contributed by the French Government. However, employers and employees also contribute through payroll taxes at a rate of 80% by employer and 20% by employee. As some medical costs are not covered by the state, there is also an additional private health insurance as an extra safety net. Employers are only required to pay half of this insurance, but many offer it as an added benefit to each of their remote or onsite employees, and can extend coverage to an employee’s family members.

Pension contributions in France

As part of the French Social security scheme, old-age insurance or pension contributions are contributed to by both employers and employees across three different methods. Two of these are mandated by law and one as a voluntary supplementary contribution. Pension contributions are made by both employer and employees, and all businesses hiring employees in France must be aware of these obligations. 

The mandated minimum rate that is contributed monthly by employers as part of the basic scheme is 0.4% of total earnings and by employees 0.6% of total earnings. Employees must have worked for a minimum 42 years and be born before 1952 to be eligible to collect their pension.

On top of this basic scheme, employers and employees also contribute to a complementary retirement pension. Those looking for executive-level employees may offer a private-pension fund contribution on top of both these schemes, but most private pension funds are voluntarily contributed to by employees to boost their retirement savings.

Oversee employee benefits in France with Horizons

If you are looking to diversify your team by including French employees in your workforce, but are not sure how to go about it, Horizons can help. As a leading France PEO, Horizons are experts on French employment law and can help you procure top talent, manage your French payroll and ensure that you offer all mandatory employee benefits in France. 

We can also go through some extra benefits that you can offer so your company remains competitive, while helping you enter the French market quickly and in full compliance with the law. 

Frequently asked questions

French employees enjoy many benefits which helps them maintain a good work life balance. There are mandated rules for working hours, overtime payments, minimum wage, specific leave entitlements, health insurance and pension contributions.

On top of the mandated benefits, some companies like to provide optional or discretionary benefits to their employees to remain competitive and ensure they are procuring the best talent. On top of added voluntary contributions to health and pension plans, many top companies in France offer wellness benefits, meal vouchers, an extra month’s salary, and stipends for attaining and maintaining work equipment, which is slowly becoming more popular for remote positions.

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