Are you seeking employment in France? Understanding the contractual relationship between employer and employee is essential.
An employee is in a subordinate relationship with their employer, which means that they are placed under the authority of the latter. Thus, the employer can:
- Give them orders and instructions.
- Monitor the execution of the tasks entrusted to the employee.
- Penalize them for any breaches.
In France, different types of employment contract can be used depending on the nature and duration of the role entrusted to the employee by the employer.
A permanent contract (contrat à durée indéterminée – CDI) is the most common form of employment contract in France. It allows employers to offer individuals permanent positions in their company. Such contracts are signed between an employee and an employer in France. Their duration is, by definition, unlimited.
Only in certain exceptional cases, as specified in the French Labor Code, may an employer use other types of contract, such as a fixed-term contract (contrat à durée déterminée – CDD).
For further information, please read our dedicated fact sheet.
Cases where permanent contracts may be used
A permanent contract is the main type of contract used to define the relationship between a company in France and an employee. It enables the employee to permanently hold a job related to the company’s usual and permanent business activities.
|Good to know: Citizens of countries outside the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland will need to hold a valid residence permit equivalent to a work permit, or a work permit in addition to their residence permit.P|
For further information, please read our fact sheets on residence permits and the procedure for obtaining a work permit.
Organization of working times
By default, permanent contracts are full-time contracts.
When an employee is in a full-time position, their working time is equal to the duration specified by the law, or that specified by the collective agreement covering the company if the duration is less.
A part-time permanent contract may be entered into with an employee whose working time is less than the company’s standard working time.
For further information, please read our fact sheet on working times.
|Good to know: What is a collective agreement?
A collective agreement is an agreement between trade unions and employer organizations in a given business sector. Collective agreements contain rules supplementing labor law within a particular sector.The exact nature of a company’s business activities determines the collective agreement applicable.
Form of a permanent contract
Permanent contracts for full-time positions do not necessarily have to be written. However, permanent contracts for part-time positions must be in written form.
Employment contracts formalize the respective commitments of the employee and the employer. While a written document is not mandatory, providing an employee with a written contract allows the employer to secure their recruitment. Some collective agreements specify that a written contract is mandatory.
When a permanent contract is written, it must specify:
- The identity and address of the parties.
- The job title and professional qualifications.
- The place of work.
- Working time.
- Remuneration (salary and bonuses).
- Paid leave.
- Duration of the probationary period.
- Notice periods in the event of contract termination.
- A non-competition or mobility clause, if applicable.
Permanent contracts must be drafted in French. Foreign employees may request a bilingual version or a copy translated into their language for information purposes. The French version of the contract is the reference version.
| Good to know: If the employee is to undergo a probationary period, it must be specified in the employment contract. Probationary periods are not mandatory.
Further information is available in our dedicated fact sheet (probationary/recruitment period).
Terminating a permanent contract
Although a permanent contract is not initially intended to come to an end, it may be terminated in certain cases and in different ways.
This termination may be initiated by the employee, the employer, or by mutual agreement.
If the contract is terminated at the sole initiative of the employee, this is a resignation.
Employees on permanent contracts may terminate their employment contract for no specific reason and without the approval of their employer.
When must an employee announce their resignation?
An employee may terminate their employment contract at any time, during or after the probationary period.
However, a notice period must be served and an employee who resigns may not leave their position immediately unless mutually agreed by the employee and employer. During this period, the employee must continue to work for the company, their contract runs as normal and they continue to be paid.
|Good to know: The notice period is the period during which the employee continues to work after resigning, so as to give the company time to make any necessary arrangements. The notice period is generally specified in the employment contract, with reference to the applicable collective agreement. It may vary depending on the company and the employee’s length of service. The employee must serve the notice period, unless exempted.|
What is the procedure?
It is recommended that the employee write a resignation letter indicating their intention to terminate the employment contract and submit it to the employer.
For further information, please read our dedicated fact sheet (resignation)
If the employment contract is terminated at the sole initiative of the employer, this is a dismissal.
A dismissal may take place for a number of reasons.
An employee may be dismissed for personal reasons as a result of misconduct or professional failings.
An employee may be dismissed for economic reasons if the company experiences economic difficulties or undergoes technological changes, subject to certain conditions.
However, in such cases the company must put in place measures to avoid having to dismiss employees.
What is the procedure?
Depending on the reason for the dismissal, different procedures apply.
For further information, please read our dedicated fact sheets (economic dismissal, collective dismissal, personal dismissal)
The employee and their employer may agree to terminate the employment contract by mutual agreement and thus end their employment relationship. This is known as “termination agreement” of a permanent contract.
For further information, please read our dedicated fact sheet (termination agreement)