Print Posted By Lost in France on 21 Sep 2006 in Living in France - Business and employment in France

Working Time

Legal working hours are fixed at 35 hours per week since 1 January 2000 in companies with over 20 employees, and since 1 January 2002 for the others (20 employees and less). The legal working hours are a reference, a threshold on which calculations of overtime are based. They are not compulsory, therefore the company may practice different collective working hours or introduce part-time schedules.

In principle, legal working hours apply to all employees. Some categories are excluded because of their special working conditions, e.g. sales representatives, executives, limited liability company managers, caretakers working in residential buildings and domestic staff.

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The provisions on working hours were simplified and made more flexible by Law No 2003-47 of 17 January 2003 on salaries, working time and employment development.
Reference: Law 2003-47 concerning salaries, working time and employment development.

All hours worked over and above the 35-hour week must be compensated. The rate of extra payment for overtime is fixed by collective agreement for the sector. It may not be lower than 10%. In the absence of an agreement, the legal rates are applicable:

  • 25% extra for the first eight extra hours
  • 50% extra for each hour after that

There is an exception for undertakings of 20 employees and less: while no agreement is applicable to such undertakings, and up until 31 December 2005, payment for the first four hours is 10% extra.

In practice

The rate of extra payment for overtime may vary from one sector to another. In return for overtime, salaries are automatically increased; there is no time off in lieu as in the past. However, the social partners may decide in a collective agreement to introduce time off to compensate for overtime.

Increased pay: what is the rate?

Two scenarios:
1) the undertaking is covered by a sectoral agreement or collective agreement which sets down one (or more) rates for increased pay for overtime (minimum 10%). The collectively-agreed rates are applied.
2)the undertaking is not covered by a sectoral agreement or collective agreement, or else the agreement has not been generally introduced. Depending on the number of employees it has, the following rates are applicable:
Undertakings with over 20 employees:
25% from the 36th to the 43rd hour, 50% after that.
Undertakings with 20 employees and less
Up to 31 December 2005:
10% from the 36th to the 39th hour, 25% from the 40th to the 43rd hour, 50% after that.
From 1 January 2006:
25% from the 36th to the 43rd hour, 50% after that.

There are currently eleven legal public holidays:

1 January (New Year's Day)
Easter Monday
1 May (Labour Day)
8 May (V-Day - End of Second World War 1945)
Ascension Thursday
Whit Monday
14 July (National Holiday)
15 August (Assumption)
1 November (All Saints' Day)
11 November (Armistice 1918)
25 December (Christmas Day).

For further information, you can contact the DDTEFP (Departmental Directorate for Labour, Employment and Vocational Training) in your place of residence or consult the Ministry of Employment's website on the 35-hour week and organisation of working hours.

Source: Ministry of Employment - Organisation of Working Hours

Source: European Union
© European Communities, 1995-2006


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