Important and/or distinctive aspects of recruitment legislation in France

The French Labour Code sets out the proportionality principle, namely that employers may not restrict the rights and liberties of employees if this is not justified by the nature of the job to be performed or if this is not proportionate to the goal pursued, which applies to the recruitment process.

With regard to the recruitment process, employers are allowed to request information from candidates which relates to their ability to carry out the proposed job (such as work experience, education verification, etc.). An employer can request job references or work certificates from a candidate (stating only periods of employment and names of employers) and may only ask questions about the candidate's previous positions and the grounds of their termination. However, employers cannot ask for the disclosure of the candidate’s termination letter(s).

Credit checks

It is not possible, even with the candidate’s consent, to carry out searches regarding prior financial transactions or credit payments of a candidate except where needed for a specific role.

Judgment checks

It is not possible to review judgements and/or cases in which the candidate may have been implicated, as this is covered by the right to privacy provided for by French law.

Non-discrimination

In order to counter discriminatory practices, the French Labour Code strictly prohibits the exclusion of candidates from recruitment processes, as well as sanctions/dismissal of existing employees, based on their sex, morals and habits, sexual orientation or identity, age, family status or pregnancy, genetic characteristics, actual or supposed (non-) adherence to any ethnic origin, nationality or race, political opinions, trade-union membership or similar activities, religious beliefs, physical appearance, surname, usual residence, health condition or handicap. 

Data protection

Employers must ensure that employee data is stored and processed in compliance with the requirements of French data protection laws. Moreover, the employee’s prior consent is usually needed.

Since recruitment involves the collection and processing of personal data, employers will need to be aware of their obligations under the CNIL regulations and the steps they will need to take to comply with them. Broadly speaking, CNIL regulations require data to be processed for limited purposes. Data must be relevant, adequate, accurate, and lawfully and fairly processed. Such data must be kept secure and for no longer than is necessary.

TABLE CONTAINING JURISDICTION BY JURISDICTION ANALYSIS (PDF)