An extract from The International Hotel Law Review, 1st Edition

Employment law

i Employment models

Under French employment law, jobs in the hospitality industry are mainly classified between several professional categories including employees, supervisors and executives, and for each of them, several types of employment contracts are possible.

The most commonly used form of employment is the indefinite-term employment contract.

Other 'precarious' employment contracts are often used by companies in this sector, to cover the need for a temporary workforce (including 'general' or customary fixed-term contracts, seasonal contracts, as well as temporary workers) for which the conditions of recourse, maximum duration and grounds for termination are strictly defined by law. Most of the time, the fixed-term contract is used to replace an absent employee or during peak tourist periods. As a general rule, the maximum duration is 18 months (some exceptions apply).

For an employee working full-time, according to the national industry-wide CBA, the weekly working time is 39 hours. Part-time employees (frequent in the industry) are those working below this weekly working time. Conversely, for employees working independently, such as senior executives, a fixed-annual working time in days scheme may be apply so that their working time is counted in days and not in hours (flexible working time without overtime).

ii Pay and benefits

The CBA-based minimum wage is higher than the minimum provided by French law (i.e., the minimum hourly wage in 2021 is €10.25 gross in the hospitality industry).

Certain additional benefits may be granted if a collective agreement provides for it or if the employer decides so unilaterally (e.g., specific bonus, professional expenses). Also, it should be noted that certain specific working hours (overtime, night work, and work on Sundays – which are quite common) require that additional monetary or rest time compensations be granted to the employee.

iii Termination of employment

The indefinite-term employment contract may be terminated by the employer (with cause), or the employee, or by mutual agreement. However, cases of lawful termination of a fixed-term contract are more limited.

With specific regard to a dismissal, only employees with eight months of uninterrupted length of service can benefit from an indemnity for dismissal (except in the event of serious or gross misconduct). The law sets a minimum and a cap for damages awarded as compensation for unfair dismissal.

iv Employment disputes

In France, the resolution of labour law disputes depends on the subject matter of the dispute. Two main categories of disputes can be distinguished:

  1. the performance or termination of employment contract are settled by the Labour Court. The procedure includes (most of the time) a first stage of conciliation, before the case is pleaded and judged; and
  2. trade union rights, as well as social security issues are settled by Judicial Tribunal.

It should be borne in mind that procedures and time limits in France are long and complex. It is often necessary to wait several months or even several years to obtain a first decision. For this reason, negotiating post-termination settlement agreements is rather common.