Planning to hire employees in France? The French labor code is quite strict and offers its citizens many more rights and protections than those enjoyed by workers in other countries—particularly the United States. As you’re putting together the benefits package you’ll be offering to prospective French employees, it’s crucial to remain diligent and ensure the mandatory benefits are included in the plan so you stay compliant with the French social security system and labor laws.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about which benefits are mandatory and the statutory minimums you are required to provide according to French employment law. You’ll also learn how to go above and beyond to attract and retain the best and brightest talent in your field.
Where can I get quotes for French employee benefits?
Rippling partners with brokers and insurance carriers around the world to give your French employees access to big business benefits at affordable prices—including health insurance, registered retirement savings plans, etc.
What employee benefits are mandatory in France?
When it comes to employee rights and statutory benefits, France is, in many ways, unique to the rest of the world. While you’ve likely heard of the country’s famous 35-hour work week, as well as the country’s cultural commitment to “working to live” rather than “living to work,” the rights and protections afforded French employees go far beyond this. Indeed, French unions are extremely powerful, and over decades of negotiations with the federal government, they’ve helped create a comprehensive system that provides employees in France with an array of statutory benefits that are upheld by the law.
Companies must follow these laws to the letter when putting together benefits packages when they’re getting ready to hire employees in France. Not only do you want to avoid finding yourself staring down the business end of legal action, but you also want to be sure your company attracts the best and brightest talent in the nation.
A few final notes before we move on to the statutory benefits employers are required to offer. First, please note the benefits denote the minimums companies are legally obligated to provide their workers. You can certainly offer more–and many businesses do. Second, only employees–not independent contractors, are entitled to receive these benefits.
In France, there are three types of retirement pension systems: the basic retirement pension, the complimentary retirement pension, and an additional pension. The latter is the responsibility of the employee entirely. As for the basic and complimentary pensions, both the employee and the employer are expected to contribute to the policy.
Companies don’t need to offer an employer-provided pension plan. In fact, in France, these policies are usually only purchased for executives.
As mentioned earlier, French labor law is quite strict about limiting employees to a 35-hour work week. It does not, however, have laws against overtime, but there are regulations governing how much employers need to pay workers who go over the 35-hour limit. Employers are required to compensate employees who work overtime either with additional time off that is the equivalent of how much extra time they put in or financially. You must pay employees 25% of their regular wage for the first eight hours of overtime they put in; if the number exceeds eight hours, the required compensation jumps to 50% of their regular wage for the additional hours.
Under French laws, employees in France are entitled to a minimum of 30 paid vacation days each year–which works out to about five weeks of paid vacation time annually.
Employees who achieved a certain level of seniority are frequently entitled to additional vacation days beyond the 30-day minimum. And, French employees are permitted to take leave for family events. The specific permitted events, including the amount of leave the worker is entitled to, are listed below:
- They’re getting married: additional four days off
- Their child is getting married: one extra day off
- Their child or partner passed away: five days off for the former and three for the latter
- A close family member (parent or relative, such as a sibling) passed away: three additional days off
We’ll discuss this in a bit more detail in the section about sick leave.
Rippling can help with managing your employees' time and paying your international employees in a single system.
Workers in France are entitled to 11 statutory holidays per year, except for residents in the Alsace region and Moselle/Lorraine, both of which receive an additional two days. These are Good Friday, the exact date of which varies depending on the year but which is always the Friday before Easter Sunday, and Boxing Day (also called St. Stephen’s Day), which falls on December 26th.
One additional note employers should keep in mind: Just because these are public holidays does not mean you are obligated to give your workers time off on these dates. The only exception to this is Labor Day, May 1st. Employees cannot be called into this office on this day.
Create a custom holiday calendar for France, design France-specific policies, and offer benefits in France easily and automatically with Rippling.
Under French employment law, all parents—mothers and fathers alike—are entitled to parental leave, whether they give birth to a child or adopt one. However, the exact terms of the leaves differ slightly depending on whether the parents are adopting or giving birth naturally.
- Maternity leave: Pregnant women are entitled to 18 weeks of paid maternity leave. They may choose to start their leave either before the child is born or immediately after, depending on the doctor’s recommendation. Furthermore, if the woman experiences complications during her pregnancy, she may be entitled to receive more than 18 weeks of leave. The same policy applies if she already has other children at home. She will be paid an amount equal to the income she received over the three months immediately before going on leave, and she must have worked for the company for at least 200 hours during those three months. Finally, she is protected from being dismissed while she is out on leave.
- Parental leave: The partner of the pregnant woman is entitled to receive 11 consecutive days of paid leave; if the woman gives birth to twins, this number jumps to 18 days.
- Adoption leave: Parents who adopt children get 10 weeks off if they are bringing one new child into the home or 22 weeks if they adopted more than one. If they already have two or more children in addition to the adopted child, they can receive 18 weeks off.
France has strict anti-discriminatory laws and does not permit employers to alter these rules if the parents in question are in a same-sex relationship or if they are part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Full-time employees who are working the standard 35-hour work week are entitled to receive, at minimum, five weeks of paid sick leave each year. Be sure to check the collective bargaining agreements your company has on file, as they may stipulate that workers should receive paid sick leave beyond the government-mandated minimum.
The amount of sick leave an employee is entitled to also depends on how many hours they logged at work before falling ill. If they worked for 150 hours in the three months before they got sick, they qualify for six months of paid sick leave. If that number jumps to 600 hours logged over the preceding 12 months, their entitlements increase.
French sick leave policies also cover death leave–also known as bereavement leave–which gives employees the right to take off from work when a close relative passes away. Bereavement leave is a right given to employees regardless of how long they’ve been with the company or whether they occupy a senior position or not. And, they must be fully paid while they are taking time off to grieve.
While all French citizens are covered under the national health insurance scheme, this does not necessarily cover all of their medical needs. Many people purchase additional private insurance, called a mutelle, to ensure their healthcare needs are completely taken care of. As an employer, it is your responsibility to help employees by covering 50% of the cost of the mutelle.
Rippling makes managing your international employees' time off and leaves simple.
What employee benefits are optional in France?
While the statutory benefits covered thus far in this guide represent the minimums that employers in France must legally provide to their employees, it’s important to be aware that many French employers also elect to provide supplementary benefit plans and perks to attract top talent and retain their current team members. Below, we’ll discuss some of the most common supplementary benefits you’ll find in French workplaces.
Meal vouchers–whether they cover all or a portion of the cost of food—are a perk that’s both popular and unique to French working culture.
This supplemental benefit can come in several forms. Some businesses choose to provide their employees with complimentary breakfast, coffee, and snacks, while others add free daily lunches and even cover the cost of after-work drinks. If you choose, you can give employees lunch vouchers–also called ticket restaurants in France–in which you cover up to 60% of the cost of a team member’s meal.
Public transportation reimbursement
Those employees who take public transportation to commute to work are often reimbursed by their employers. This popular supplemental benefit not only helps to offset the expenses incurred by purchasing train or bus tickets, but they also commonly cover 100% of the costs–provided the employee travels in second class.
Like many companies across the world, French businesses often give their employees bonuses at the end of the year. While these are not mandatory, they are an important and attractive perk that can take one of three forms. The company can choose to offer the 13th-month bonus (which amounts to a full month’s wages at the end of the year in addition to the 12-month-long salary the employee received), bonuses based on performance, or standard, year-end bonuses.
Here’s one important caveat: If your company employs 50 or more people, the French Labour Code mandates that you must negotiate a shared-profit plan when you’re ironing out the terms of the collective bargaining agreement that will guide your company policies.
Rippling can help with managing your employees' time and paying your international employees in a single system.
How to hire employees in France and offer them affordable benefits in minutes—with Rippling
Running a global workforce isn't easy. It can be a challenge for global companies just to keep their benefits compliant—let alone managing offer letters, equipment, payroll, and everything else global employees and contractors need.
That's why, if you're going to hire employees, contractors, or remote workers in France, you need Rippling. Rippling makes it easy to onboard, manage, and pay employees and contractors around the world—in one system that helps keep you compliant with local employment laws and regulations.
We offer a native Employer of Record (EOR) service, which allows you to hire employees in France, enroll them in benefits, and run payroll in 90 seconds—even if you don't have a legal entity there.
Rippling’s EOR is built on top of our native payroll rails, which means that when the time comes to bring HR in-house, you can move from our EOR to Global Payroll through your own entities—in minutes.
Disclaimer: Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.