Following the recent introduction of the new Labour Code, French employers are now required to give employees advance notice if they wish to terminate their contracts during a trial period. Up until now they have been able to dismiss without providing such notice.

Under the new provisions employers must give between 24 hours’ and one month’s notice (depending on the employee’s length of service) if they wish to terminate an employee’s trial period.

But it is not all one way. Employees are also now required to give at least 48 hours’ advance notice if they wish to terminate their trial period. This is reduced to 24 hours’ for those employees with less than 8 days’ service.

Unfortunately the new Code does not appear to impose any sanction for failing to comply with the new notice provisions. It is therefore currently unclear whether employers can validly terminate an employee’s contract at all without complying with the provisions and/or whether they are then liable to pay damages for any breach. It seems that French employers will have to wait for the Courts to clarify this point. In the meantime, it is advisable for them to err on the side of caution.