New Hire Checklist: A Step-By-Step Guide To Onboarding Employees In France [2024]


Jun 15, 2023

So, you’ve successfully hired your first employee in France. Great news! The next step is onboarding. Creating a smooth onboarding experience helps to ensure employees are engaged, committed to the company’s success, and feel like a member of a team.

As you may already know, French workers receive a lot of protections employees in other countries aren’t as privileged to have. Leading them through a robust onboarding process that demonstrates your knowledge and respect for their culture is a great way to start off on the right foot.

There are many moving parts to the employee onboarding experience, and as experts will tell you, a top-tier process lasts well beyond the first few days of an employee working for you. In this guide, we’ll give you an onboarding checklist that covers everything from paperwork and compliance to devices, access to apps, training, and a 90-day plan to ensure your new employees are successful well beyond their first day.

Before their first day

  • Complete an employment background check. Background checks are legal in France, but with some caveats. First, you must have the employee’s written consent before you can proceed to dig into their background. Second, you must limit the scope of the check to only what is absolutely necessary and relevant, and you must obey the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. Our full guide to employment background checks in France provides more information on what’s commonly checked as well as privacy principles you must adhere to.
  • Send an offer letter. A job offer letter, also known as a formal employment letter, ensures your new starter is clear on the details of their role. At a minimum, the offer letter must include the terms of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA); the position title, job description, and start date; compensation and benefits; working hours; supplementary pension and provident fund, non-compete and non-solicitation provisions; the company policy on termination; and a confidentiality clause (also known as a non-disclosure agreement). One final note: Employment contracts should be written in French, not just English. Read our full guide on creating job offer letters for employees in France.
  • Complete the necessary documents. Beyond the formal employment agreement, you’ll need to submit a DPAE (déclaration préalable à l’embauche) to the local URSSAF, which is the government organization in charge of collecting social security. That way, your employee will be registered in France’s general Social Security scheme and will be assigned to a health insurance fund and pension scheme. You can do this online via the URSSAF website.
  • Enroll them in benefits. Pension, overtime, vacation time, statutory holidays, parental leave, sick leave, and health insurance are all mandatory benefits in France. To stay competitive, some employers choose to offer supplementary benefits, like public transportation reimbursement. Learn more in our guide to employee benefits in France.
  • Add them to payroll. Since France is a member of the Eurozone, you’re required to pay your French employees in euros, no matter where you’re headquartered. You’ll need some information from each employee to add them to payroll, including:
    • Their French Social Security Number
    • Their name, DOB, and address
    • Their start date
    • The type of employment contract you signed with them and its duration

You, the employer, are responsible for paying the appropriate amount of payroll taxes, which include French income tax, social security contributions, and more. Check out our full guide to running payroll for employees in France.

  • Order and configure their devices. Whether your new hire will be working from home or from the office, it’s in everyone’s best interest to ensure they have the right tools and equipment to perform their job before their first day. Once they sign the employment contract and everything is official, order and configure any devices they need so your new hire can hit the ground running.
  • Set up their app accounts. Everyone’s first day is bound to come with hiccups, but some are avoidable. You know your new employee will need access to email, Zoom, Slack, project management platforms, and any other programs you use to keep your business running and your employees in communication. So, make sure to set up their app accounts ahead of their first day.
  • Prepare any resources they'll need. These can include:
    • An employee handbook and copies of any other company policies they need to know
    • Your company's mission statement and a brief about your company culture and values
    • A team directory
    • An ID card (if needed)
    • A welcome gift as a token of your appreciation for joining the team
    • An agenda for their first day
    • Their job description and top priorities
  • Send a welcome email. A welcome email is more than just a friendly greeting. It also provides crucial details on what your new hire should expect on their first day (and beyond). You can provide them with information like who to check in with when they arrive, how to get through security, where they can park, and any extra materials they should have with them when they come in for the first time. In France, business situations are usually more formal than casual, so make sure your tone is upbeat but professional. Read our guide on creating a welcome email here.
  • Assign them an onboarding mentor. Before the new hire begins, find an experienced employee to help them navigate their first day. As mentioned earlier, the hallmark of a strong onboarding process is making sure the new starter feels like a team member. Giving them the opportunity to get to know someone they’re working with, meet others, and ask questions will help them feel more welcome right away. Make sure you assign the onboarding buddy well before the first day so you can give them the chance to prepare.

On Day 1

  • Schedule their orientation. Prior to their first day, schedule your new hire’s company orientation. Be sure to set up a 1:1 with their direct manager (and senior staff, if applicable), a dedicated meeting with their team members, and any other necessary meetings. Also, be sure there’s time for a 1:1 with the aforementioned onboarding mentor.
  • Make sure their workspace is set up. Particularly if your new employee will be working in-office, set up their workspace before they start to ensure they have everything they need. If they’re working from home, yuo can set up an early video call instead. Go easy on the fun decorations, though: While they might seem like a good idea, especially to people from US, UK, or Canadian cultural backgrounds, the French “work to live” and don’t put an emphasis on having “fun” at work. 
  • Give them an agenda to help them get started. If you didn’t do so previously, email your new hire an agenda for their first week on their initial day. Even if they already have one, set up a video call or in-person meeting to go over it and then guide them through the plan throughout the day. 
  • Skip the get-to-know-you events. The case to not be forced to have fun in French workplaces has been raging since 2015, and recently, the French employees finally won. Their employers can no longer compel them to participate in activities for the benefit of mingling and having fun as a team. With the apparent unpopularity of these activities, we’d recommend skipping them altogether.
  • Give an office tour. An office tour is always helpful, even if your new employee will only occasionally be a presence in the workplace. It’s a great opportunity for them to show their face, meet other coworkers they might otherwise not have the chance to work with, and learn where the amenities and facilities are.
  • Provide them with a list of contacts. Email your new hire with a list of names, roles, phone numbers, emails, and Slack handles so they know how to get a hold of coworkers they’ll be interacting with regularly, and so they can find the right person to answer specific questions.

During their first 90 days

  • Schedule organizational and role-specific training. During the first 30 days, your new hire has two goals: to learn about their new workplace and the specifics of their role. It’s best to begin by introducing them to the company’s goals, purpose, and values. Then, pivot to training them on their specific position. Find out what training they’ll need to bolster their prior experience and help them learn the skills and information they'll need to succeed.
  • Assign work and help them set goals. Setting clear objectives will ensure your new hire knows exactly what you expect of them. One great way to set goals in the beginning is using a framework like SMART goals—setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. As you start assigning them tasks to complete on their own, this will help provide them with clear targets to work toward so they’re not left feeling uncertain about their responsibilities. 
  • Schedule regular check-ins to help them stay on track. Regular meetings are crucial, particularly during your new hire’s first 90 days. They’re a great way to answer any questions the individual might have, note what they’re doing well, and work on what can be improved. Better still, your new hire won’t have to wonder whether you’re pleased with their performance during the first few months. Start with a check-in at 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, but stay flexible in case they want to schedule more frequent meetings than that.
  • Seek their feedback on how you can improve the onboarding experience. An employee’s feedback to you is just as helpful as yours is to them. Ask your new hire for their thoughts on the onboarding experience and how it can be improved for future hires.

Onboarding new employees in France is easy—and fast—with Rippling

If you're going to hire employees, contractors, or remote workers in France, you need more than just a new hire checklist: you need Rippling. 

Rippling makes it easy to onboard and manage employees and contractors around the world—in one system that helps keep you compliant with local employment laws and regulations.

And with Rippling, onboarding new employees is a breeze. Complete and verify background checks, write and send offer letters, send, sign, and store digital documents, and localize onboarding materials to your new hire's home country—all from one centralized location.

Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, accounting, or legal 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.

last edited: May 28, 2024

The Author

Carrie Stemke

A freelance writer and editor based in New York City, Carrie writes about HR trends and global workforce management and is the Rippling content team’s expert on hiring know-how in Western Europe.