French law provides for a standard legal working time of 35 hours per week. This can be impractical for many employers.

So, in order to avoid having to count working hours for its most autonomous executives and managers, many employers like to use the optional “lump sum agreement” in days called the forfait jours. For example, the employment contract can be drafted to provide that an employee will work 219 days in the year, without counting working time in hours.

This mechanism is extremely popular but comes with some risk. In order to properly implement this useful tool, here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.

Do make sure the applicable collective bargaining agreement provides for the possibility to enter into such an agreement.

Don’t consider that a contractual arrangement is enough. Either a CBA or company-wide agreement must provide for lump sum agreements in days.

Do insert a thorough clause on working time into the employment contract.

Don’t forget to include in the contact the appropriate safeguards that will be implemented to protect the employee from working excessively.

Do put in place a mechanism to keep track of what days are worked and what days are not.

Do put in place an objective, reliable and accessible system for measuring working time to ensure compliance with the maximum weekly working time and minimum daily and weekly rest periods.

Don’t assume that the employee will work exactly the number of days set out in the contract.

Do hold at least one annual meeting to discuss the employee’s workload and working time.

Don’t use this tool for all employees: a lump sum agreement is only for autonomous employees with important responsibilities and matching salaries.