The french labour code : the fundamentals for expatriates

If you are coming to work in France, you need to know the French laws and the French Labour Code.

Employment contract

In France, the employment contract is drawn between the employer and the employee. It states the income, the job title, the duration of the contract, as well as the employee’s duties. There are different types of employment contracts depending on the duration and duties performed : permanent contract, fixed-term contract, part-time contract, intermittent, etc.


In exchange of the work delivered, the employee will receive a basic wage to which can be added incentives and bonuses. To neutralize the consequences of an unequal repartition of days throughout the different months in a year, the French Labour Code states that the monthly wage has to be determined regardless of the number of days in a month: this is the “monthly salary payments” principle. Yet, this principle cannot be applied to all employees. It excludes the home workers, the seasonal workers and the occasional workers.

The minimum wage (« Salaire Minimum de Croissance – SMIC ») is the salary under which it is forbidden to pay an employee in France. Since January 1st, 2019, the gross hourly earning of the SMIC in France is set at €10.03.

Working hours

The legal working time in France is set at 35h/week full time. This duration does not represent the minimum nor the maximum working hours. There are also part-time contracts. Yet, depending on the companies’ own collective agreements, the weekly working hours can be of more than 35h.

French Labour Code

Find out more about the fundamentals of the French Labour Code.