High Street Partners' Blog

Why Everyone Wants to Work in France (But No One Wants to Hire There)

Five weeks mandatory vacation, free health care and one of the shortest work weeks worldwide? All it takes is a quick look at some of the highlights of French employment law to get a U.S.-based employee to proclaim, “It’s good to work in France!”

France’s reputation for complex employment law is well earned. Even more so than its counterparts in the rest of the European Union, the nation is committed to protecting the rights of employees. It’s the reason why France can be attractive to employees… and overwhelming for businesses looking to hire in country.

Some of basic benefits provided to French employees are unheard of in the United States. Examples include:

  • A standard 35-hour work week means that workers who put in more time may be entitled to overtime pay above and beyond their salaries. Through alternative working time arrangements and Réduction de Temps de Travail (RTT), many employees are entitled to additional days off per year (usually around 10 days) to compensate at a flat rate any excess time worked.
     
  • Minimum required vacation time of five weeks does not include the standard 10+ RTT days, as well as the average 11 annual public holidays.
     
  • While generous statutory benefits include health coverage, unemployment allowances, retirement/pension funds, etc., employees are often offered supplementary benefits. Some typical types of add-on benefits can include: company car, supplemental private health coverage and meal vouchers.
     
  • A system of collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) further indicates the scope and detail of the employment relationship and often offers additional benefits to employees.
     
  • An array of specialized labor courts make the process of filing suit against a current or former employer an easier process than what might be experienced in the U.S. The timeline for settlement is also often drastically reduced, turning what is often a long, drawn out process in the States into something streamlined and effective, but typically very costly for the employer.

Even so, France still remains a key destination for European expansion. With one of the top economies in Europe, market opportunity in a variety of industries and recent reforms providing incentives for foreign businesses, France can fast become a must-have destination for growing companies. Understanding the nuances of what is required on the ground in this country, particularly around hiring, is essential to successfully growing your business here.