Temporary workers: The temporary employment contract

Date of update


A number of businesses specialize in providing employees to meet the needs of companies on an ad hoc basis. Their client companies use these temporary work agencies and their employees to reinforce their teams for occasional temporary assignments.

This is also known as travail intérimaire or temping. A client company must not use a temporary worker instead of recruiting an employee directly if the position in question is related to the firm’s usual and permanent business activities. Should it do so, the temporary employment contract may be considered tantamount to a permanent contract in the event of a dispute.

Contractual relationship


A temporary work agency may hire an employee under a temporary employment contract (also known as a temping). As their employer, the agency may decide to make the employee available to a client company to enable a specific and time-limited role to be performed.


In such cases, a secondment contract is signed between the temporary work agency and the client company, also known as the “user company”.


Employees are placed under the authority and control of the head of the user company in which they perform their role, and:

  • Receive a salary under the same terms as the other employees of the company in which they perform their role.
  • Enjoy the same rights as the company’s other employees throughout the duration of their assignment (catering, transport, etc.)

The rules in force in the user company also apply to temporary workers, particularly in the following areas: working time, night shifts, weekly rest periods, public holidays and workplace health and safety.


Permanent temping contracts:

To improve the career security of temporary employees, a permanent employment contract may be signed between a temporary employee and their employer, i.e. the temporary work agency, when they are required to perform successive assignments.

The permanent contract specifies:

  • The periods during which they will be working.
  • The periods during which they will not be working (“intermission periods”), which are treated as effective working time for the purposes of determining entitlement to paid leave and length of service.

Every assignment must be covered by a secondment contract between the temporary work agency and the user company, as well as an engagement letter drafted by the temporary work agency.


Probationary period


A temporary employment contract may include a probationary period, the duration of which is set by a collective agreement or an extended sectoral agreement, or by a company or establishment agreement.

If this is not specified, the duration of the probationary period depends on the duration of the temporary employment contract:

  • Contract duration of less than or equal to one month: two days.
  • Contract duration of between one and two months: three days.
  • Contract duration of more than two months: five days.



The assignment takes place over the period specified in the contract, without exceeding the maximum legal duration, which varies depending on the nature of the assignment.


A temporary assignment has a fixed term when the contract provides for a specific end date. Thus, the assignment ends on the date specified or, if the end date is not specified, when its purpose has been achieved (return of the employee being replaced, end of the season, etc.).

The maximum duration of a temporary employment contract varies according to the nature of the assignment and includes renewal.

Nature of the assignment Maximum duration (including renewal)
Replacement of an absent employee 18 months
Replacement of an employee whose employment contract has been suspended 18 months
Replacement of an employee who is temporarily working part-time 18 months
Seasonal employment 18 months
Employment for which a permanent contract cannot be used 18 months
Replacement of a non-employee (head of a company, head of a farm, self-employed professional) 18 months
Temporary increase in business volumes 18 months
Exceptional export orders 24 months
Assignment abroad 24 months
Replacement of an employee who left before the permanent termination of their position 24 months
Carrying out urgent work for safety purposes 9 months
Temporary work pending the arrival of an employee on a permanent contract 9 months
Training period as part of an apprenticeship 36 months

Source : Service-public



A temporary employment contract may be renewed twice if the total duration of the contract, including renewal, does not exceed the maximum authorized duration.

The terms of this renewal must be specified in either:

  • A clause inserted into the employment contract
  • An amendment proposed to the employee before the end date initially specified.

End-of-contract compensation


At the end of each contract and at the same time as the last salary payable, the employee must receive end-of-contract compensation, known as the prime de précarité (instability allowance). The compensation amount must be equal to at least 10% of the total gross remuneration, including the contract renewal period.

However, this bonus is not payable in the following cases:

  • If a permanent contract is signed with the user company immediately after the end of the assignment.
  • If the user company provides additional professional training to the employee at the end of the assignment.
  • If the employee chooses to terminate the contract before it expires.
  • If the contract is terminated due to serious misconduct or Force Majeure
  • If the contract is for seasonal work.

Paid leave compensation


At the end of an assignment, a temporary employee is entitled to compensation for paid leave for each assignment they perform, regardless of its duration.

The amount of compensation in lieu of paid leave:

  • Is calculated according to the duration of the assignment.
  • Must be equal to at least 10% of the temporary worker’s total gross remuneration (including end-of-contract compensation).