Hiring/Firing staff – French employment law

Hiring and Firing Staff in France

Hiring in France

It is necessary in France to provide a written contract of employment to all staff of whatever grade or level.

In the event that there is no written agreement, there is  nevertheless held to be a contract and employee will systematically benefit from the maximum protection provided for by the law.

The contract of employment must be in French, even where both employer and employee use the same language which is not French.

There is no restriction on providing a translation or a bilingual version of the agreement to the employee, but the French version will always prevail before the Courts and vis-à-vis the French Employment Inspection Authorities.

Contracts of employment are virtually always for an indefinite term in France.

Specific agreements for short limited term employment are tightly regulated, for example it is possible to offer a limited term agreement to a person replacing another employee on maternity leave, or for instance to employees taken on for a particular seasonal sales period.

However, limited term agreements may not be renewed more than once otherwise they will be held to be  indefinite term agreements.

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Firing / Dismissals in France

In France, outside the trial period, it is not possible to hire employees  » at will  » in other words, once you have taken on an employee you may only dismiss him or her for a specific reason.

The reason or ground must be one which is recognised by French Statute (i.e. the codified law to be found in the Code du Travail) or by French Case Law.

The dismissal procedure on disciplinary grounds is very formalised and failure to follow the procedural steps, even where the dismissal is manifestly justified on the merits, may result in the Courts overturning the dismissal and ordering the reinstatement of the employee.

Virtually all disciplinary measures are required to be in writing and generally need to be brought to the employee’s attention by a registered letter sent to his or her home address, pursuant to a formal meeting between employer and employee.

It is not possible here to address in any detail the issues of dismissal under French Law but professional advice should always be sought prior to any measure envisaged.

For further information on any of the above areas of French law and/or to reach French employment lawyers, please click here.