Welcome to France

Employment contracts, legal reference points

Do you feel a bit lost when it comes to the different types of employment contracts you might be offered? Are you wondering what they involve?

Here's some initial guidance on the most essential legislation, with links to more in-depth information.



Definition of an employment contract

According to the definition by the Ministry of Employment, an employment contract exists from the moment when: "a person (the employee) agrees to work, for payment, on behalf of and under the direction of another person (the employer). Usually, an employment contract must be in writing. Enforcing the contract involves a number of obligations, both for the employee and the employer."

> To find out more, look at the Ministry of Employment website.



Reference texts 

  • Articles L. 1211-1, L. 1221-1 to L. 1221-5, L. 1221-19 to L. 1221-26, R. 1221-1 , L. 1254-14 and L. 1254-20 of the Employment Code
  • Order No. 2015-380 of 2 April 2015 concerning employee administration (Official Journal of 3 April)



Specific features of part-time contracts



Part-time contracts 

Part-time employment contracts are entered into with an employee whose working hours are less than the legal or contractual hours practised in the company. It must be in writing and contains certain clauses that guarantee the rights of the employee concerned. A part-time employee can have several employers but the total amount of the hours worked must not exceed the legal maximum.

The minimum working time of 24hours a week does not apply to employees under 26 in education.

> To find out more, look at the Ministry of Employment website



Foreign students

If you are a European student (with the exception of Croatian students) or from Switzerland, you can stay in the country and take a student job.

If you are a student from outside the European Union and Switzerland, you will need a long-stay "student" visa or a temporary residence permit marked "student", in order to undertake paid work in metropolitan France.

Foreign students can work up to 60% of a full-time job (964hours per year), and their employer must declare their employment to the local Prefecture.

There are several exceptions, firstly Algerian students, secondly students with a long-stay visa who have to work in excess of the maximum authorised working hours, thirdly students with a long-stay temporary residence visa of 6 months (students who are spending one semester in France).

With regard to Algerian students, the work permit is limited to 50% of the annual working hours for the professional sector concerned.

In the second case, students who have to work more than 964hours per year are required to apply for a provisional work permit. This concerns two types of students: students on an apprenticeship contract leading to a qualification at least equivalent to a Masters, or students whose course includes a period of paid work (PhD students, language assistants, etc.).

With regard to the final exception, students holding a long-stay temporary residence visa, the student must apply for a provisional work permit. The legal maximum working hours are therefore proportional to the length of the studies.

> Ask for a provisional work permit

Short-term contracts



Conditions of short-term employment

A short-term contract may be used in several cases. Firstly, to replace an employee who is temporarily or permanently absent from the company, whatever the reason (except for strikes). Another case might be a temporary increase in the company's activity, provided that the company has not carried out economic redundancies within the last 6 months. 

Seasonal work is also a reason for a short-term contract, if the needs are recurring from one year to the next, on similar dates. This happens with seasonal activities such as in the agricultural or tourism sector, for example.



Term of the contract

The term of the contract is therefore limited and must be specified in the contract.  

The term of the contract depends on the reason for the employment. The Ministry of Employment website states all the contract terms according to the reasons for short-term employment (Contrat à Durée Déterminée - CDD). We therefore invite you to read this information directly on the Ministry website.

At the end of the contract, the employer cannot employ you again on a short-term contract for the same job until a period equal to one-third of the previous contract term has passed if the term of the contract is more than 14 days or, if the contract is less than 14 days, equal to half the term of the previous contract.



Length of the trial period

A trial period is not compulsory in a short-term contract. 

The trial period is limited to 1 day per week for contracts of up to 6 months, with a maximum of two weeks.

For contracts of more than 6 months, the maximum length of the trial period is 1 month, which is calculated in the same way as previously, i.e. 1 day per week of the contract.



Termination conditions of a short-term contract

If the reason for terminating the contract is permanent employment (Contrat à Durée Indérterminée - CDI), the employee must comply with a notice period of 1 day per week according to the total term of the short-term contract, without exceeding two weeks.

Other reasons for termination are force majeure (court-ordered liquidation of the company, etc.), inability to work as recorded by the company doctor, serious misconduct by the employee or the employer. It may also be a simple agreement between the two parties to the contract.

A short-term contract can be converted into a permanent contract if no written document has been drawn up between the employee and the employer, or if the contractual relationship continues once the short-term contract has ended.



Short-term contracts and student jobs

A student employed on a short-term contract has the same rights and duties towards their employer as any employee, except that at the end of their contract, the student does not receive severance pay if they continue their university course.

> To find out more, look at the Ministry of Employment website



Reference texts

  • Articles L. 1221-25, L. 1241-1 to L. 1248-11, L. 4154-1, D. 1242-1 to D. 1243-1, R. 1245-1, D. - 1247-1, D. 1247-2, D. 4154-1 to D. 4154-6 of the Employment Code
  • Article L. 718-4 et seq. of the Rural and Maritime Fishing Code
  • Law No. 2015-990 of 6 August 2015 (Official Journal of 7 August)
  • Law No. 2015-994 of 17 August 2015 (Official Journal of 18 August)



Permanent Contracts

A permanent contract (Contrat à Durée Indéterminée (CDI)) is the "conventional" type of contract, meaning that the employer must use this type of contract unless there is a reason to use a short-term contract. 

It does not need to be entered into in writing unless it is a part-time or intermittent contract.

As it has no end date, termination of a permanent contract depends on the wish of one or other party to terminate the contract:

  • resignation
  • dismissal
  • retirement
  • "agreed termination"

> To find out more, look at the Ministry of Employment website



 Reference texts

  • Article L 1221-2 of the Employment Code
  • Law No. 2008-596 of 25 June 2008 "on the modernisation of the labour market" (Official Journal of 26 June)



Harvesting contract

The harvesting contract is covered by specific legislation on seasonal employment.

This contract may not exceed 1 month, and the employee can enter into several contracts successively (without exceeding 2 months per year). This contract may be exempt from employee contributions.

> To find out more about this contract, look at the Ministry of Employment website



Reference texts

  • Article L. 718-4 to L. 718-6 of the Rural and Maritime Fishing Code
  • Law No. 2015-1654 of 29 December 2014 (Official Journal of 30 December)



Temporary (interim) contracts

An employee on a temporary or interim contract is employed and paid by a temporary employment company which provides their services to a user company for a limited period, known as an assignment.
The assignment ends on a fixed date or, if there is no fixed date, when the purpose for which the contract was entered into has been completed (return of the original employee, end of the season, etc.).



Conditions of temporary employment

Temporary employment may be used when an employee is temporarily or permanently absent from the company or if there is a temporary increase in the company's activity.

Seasonal work is also a reason for a short-term contract, if the needs are recurring from one year to the next, on similar dates. This happens with seasonal activities such as in the agricultural sector or tourism, for example.



Term of the contract

The contract may be renewed - twice at the most - if the conditions of its renewal are specified or set out in a supplementary agreement given to the employee before the end of the initially agreed term. The total term of the contract, including one or two renewals, must not exceed the maximum authorised term. 

The term of the contract depends on the reason for the employment. The Ministry of Employment website states all the contract terms according to the reasons for short-term employment. We therefore invite you to read this information directly on the Ministry's website.

At the end of the contract, the employer cannot employ you again on a short-term or temporary contract for the same job before a period equal to one-third of the previous contract has passed if the term of the contract is more than 14 days or, if the contract is less than 14 days, equal to half the term of the previous contract.



Length of the trial period

A trial period is not compulsory in a temporary contract. 

The trial period is limited to 2 working days for contracts up to 1 month, 3 working days for contracts between 1 and 2 months and 5 working days for contracts of over 2 months.



The temporary employee's rights

During their assignment, temporary employees:

  • have the same rights as the employees in the user company and can use the same collective facilities (transport, catering, restaurant vouchers, showers, cloakrooms, etc.). 
  • are under the authority and control of the Director of the user company.

The rules in force in the user company apply to the temporary worker with regard to:

  • working hours
  • night work
  • weekly rest time and public holidays
  • health and safety at work
  • employment conditions for women and young people

Finally, the temporary worker's pay must be at least equal to the pay that an employee of the user company would receive, after a trial period, on a permanent contract, with the same qualifications and occupying the same position.



Severance pay

Specific payments and measures exist to compensate for the precariousness of employment.

  • at the end of each assignment the temporary worker receives an end-of-assignment payment, the amount of which may not be less than 10% of the total gross pay received. An agreement by the company or establishment may exempt the company from paying severance pay at the end of a seasonal or standard temporary employment contract;
  • the temporary worker has the right to a payment in lieu of paid leave, for each assignment, whatever its length. This amount may not be less than 10% of the total pay due to the employee, including the end-of-assignment payment.

> To find out more, look at the Ministry of Employment website



Reference texts



Social Security

 If you perform paid work during your higher education studies, you are covered by the general health insurance scheme, subject to the following conditions:

  • your employment contract covers the whole university year (from 1 October of the current year to 30 September of the following year)
  • you work at least 60 hours per month (or 120 hours work per term) or you can prove your pay is at least equal to 60 times the hourly minimum wage per month (or 120 times the hourly minimum wage per term)

In this situation, you are exempt from membership of the student social security scheme (which will end in August 2019) and you do not have to pay a contribution (contributions stopped for all students in 2018/2019). The Health Insurance fund (Caisse d'Assurance Maladie) of your place of residence will manage your file and refund your treatment. Please contact them for any questions.

> Find out more about Social Security and students



Other cases



Work-study

Two types of contracts: apprenticeship contract and professional qualification contract

> Find out more about work-study contracts



Internships

An internship is not an employment contract. It must be part of a specific educational project, leading to the acquisition of key skills.

> Find out more about internships



Student entrepreneurship

The national status of student-entrepreneur is for students who want to draw up a business plan while retaining student status.

> Find out more about student entrepreneurship



Finding a student job

Are you looking for a job to fund your studies, leisure pursuits or holidays?
There are different sources of information that can help you in your search.

> See the article



Jobaviz

To find a student job, look at JOBAVIZ, our student jobs tool!
Employers put job offers on there every day!



Jobaviz's strong points

  • You can define one or more search profiles

For example, an "Academic year" profile or a "Holidays" profile. Type of job, availability schedule, geographical area, etc.

  • Targeted advertisements whichmatch each of your search profiles

For example, no full-time work in the month of January for an "Academic year" profile.

  • You can complete your CV and make it available to employers...

... giving them the opportunity to contact you directly.

1ère publication : 4.03.2019 - Mise à jour : 5.03.2019