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Recruitment

Advertising
What are the requirements relating to advertising positions?

When advertising positions, employers cannot request an employee of a certain age or include any discriminatory conditions (eg, based on sex or physical appearance). Job ads must be in French.

Background checks
What can employers do with regard to background checks and inquiries in relation to the following:

(a) Criminal records?

Criminal record checks are permitted for specific positions (eg, security staff, people working with vulnerable individuals or regulated roles in the financial sector). Only the employee can obtain his or her criminal reports from the authorities. 

(b) Medical history?

An employee’s medical history cannot be checked unless it is relevant to the position that he or she holds, subject to privacy rules. However, a medical examination must be carried out by an occupational doctor on hire and if an employee has been on sick leave for more than 30 days. Occupational doctors also monitor work-related accidents and diseases, including work-related stress.

(c) Drug screening?

Drug screenings may be allowed if they are justified by the nature of the employee’s duties and where there are particular risks. 

(d) Credit checks?

French law prohibits credit checks for hiring purposes. 

(e) Immigration status?

Employers must ensure that applicants are allowed to work in France and may ask them for proof of identity. However, employers cannot ask an applicant when or how he or she obtained French citizenship. 

(f) Social media?

This type of background check is not specifically regulated. However, due to data privacy regulations, any check must be proportionate, justified by the nature of the employee’s duties and use reliable sources of information. 

Wages and working time

Pay
Is there a national minimum wage and, if so, what is it?

The national minimum wage in France is known as the SMIC and is adjusted every year. For 2015 the SMIC is €9.61 per hour. National collective bargaining agreements may provide for a higher minimum wage, depending on the employee’s grade and length of service.

Are there restrictions on working hours?

French law and the EU Working Time Directive contain many restrictions on working hours. Working time is defined by day, week or year. 

Hours and overtime
What are the requirements for meal and rest breaks?

By statute, employees are entitled to a 20-minute break after every six hours of work. Meal and rest breaks are usually unpaid, unless otherwise agreed or where the employee’s duties require him or her to remain on the company’s premises during such breaks. 

How should overtime be calculated?

The standard working week in France is 35 hours; however, this is not a maximum weekly working time. Employees working more than 35 hours per week are entitled to overtime unless otherwise agreed under the employment agreement and the applicable collective bargaining agreement. The employer and employee should keep an accurate record of the employee’s working time. Working time is strictly regulated by collective bargaining agreements.

What exemptions are there from overtime?

Senior executives who are part of management are not subject to overtime. Employees who have agreed to alternative working times (eg, a daily flat working time rate) are not subject to overtime, but will benefit from additional rest breaks. Part-time employees are subject to their own set of rules.

Is there a minimum paid holiday entitlement?

Employees are entitled to five weeks of annual leave per year in addition to bank holidays. Collective bargaining agreements frequently provide for additional paid leave. 

What are the rules applicable to final pay and deductions from wages?

On termination, an employer must pay an employee his or her final salary and any accrued but untaken paid leave.

Deduction from wages are restricted under French law. Even where deductions from wages are lawful pursuant to a court order or mistake, they are capped so that the employee still receives the minimum living salary, calculated based on the household earning and the number of dependents. 

Record keeping
What payroll and payment records must be maintained?

Employers must provide employees with a payslip each month. On termination, a final statement of all accounts must be provided to the employee, who must sign and return it. There are additional documents (eg, work certificates and unemployment forms) which must also be maintained.