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02. Employment Contracts

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02. Employment Contracts

Minimum requirements

Employment contracts are generally not required to be written, but certain forms of employment contract should be in writing (notably fixed-term contracts, part-time contracts and temporary employment contracts). The employer should provide the employee with a written statement of the essential terms governing the employment relationship. Oral fixed-term contracts are unequivocally deemed to be indefinite-term contracts and oral part-time contracts are deemed full-time contracts.

Indefinite-term contracts should contain the following information:

  • identification of the parties;
  • the employee’s job title or a description of their duties;
  • working time;
  • the employee’s compensation;
  • the place of work;
  • the employment start date;
  • the length of the probationary period;
  • the holiday entitlement;
  • the applicable CBA.

Fixed-term contracts should contain the same information as indefinite-term contracts and, in addition, fixed-term contracts should specify:

  • the reason why the company is using a fixed-term contract;
  • the date on which the contract is to end, or its minimum duration if an exact termination date has not been fixed; and
  • the name and job description of the absent employee, if the reason for using a fixed-term contract is to replace a temporarily absent employee.

In addition to the general requirements for employment contracts listed above, part-time contracts should state the following:

  • that the contract is for part-time work;
  • the employee’s working hours;
  • any conditions relating to possible changes in working hours; and
  • the amount of overtime permitted according to statute or the relevant cba.

Further, since the law of June 2013 on the security of employment, part-time contracts must be of a minimum duration of 24 hours per week unless an exception applies (for example branch agreements, at the request of the employee in order to address a personal situation or to undertake various work activities, students under 26, certain employers and intermediary associations). Moreover, part-time working hours have been rendered more flexible, as remuneration may now be modified with major modifications (hours exceeding 10% of the contractual hours) to be approved by a branch agreement, and with the possibility of temporarily increasing the contractual working time of a part-time worker, again with approval through a branch agreement. Finally, where 1/3 of the company’s workforce is employed part-time, companies now have the obligation to negotiate part-time working arrangements.

Fixed-term/Open-ended Contracts

The indefinite-term contract is the typical form of employment relationship. As a rule, the validity of an indefinite-term contract is not subject to conditions regarding the content and form of the agreement. In that respect, French case law has held that a pay slip may be sufficient to formalise an indefinite-term contract.

A fixed-term employment contract is an employment contract entered into for a defined duration, set in advance by the parties. This kind of employment contract is very specific, notably as neither party may terminate it prior to its end, except in the event of an amicable separation, serious misconduct (“faute grave”), force majeure or if the employee finds alternative employment under an indefinite-term contract.

In contrast with indefinite-term contracts, the conclusion of a fixed-term contract is subject to conditions of content and form. However, employees working under fixed-term contracts have the same individual statutory rights as those working under indefinite-term contracts.

Trial Period

Rather than entering into the contract immediately, parties to the employment contract may agree to provide for a probationary period, which can only be renewed once and under condition, during which either party may terminate the employment contract without any formality. If both parties are satisfied at the end of the probationary period, the employment contract becomes definitive. The probationary period is governed by statute. The legislature has introduced a maximum length for the probationary period and a minimum notice period, which varies according to the categories of employees concerned. The trial period that may be mentioned in fixed-term contracts is fixed by the Labour Code according to the duration of the contract.

Notice Period

Except for specific exceptions (e.g. dismissals for serious or gross misconduct), the parties should observe and cannot waive the required notice periods before an indefinite-term contract is terminated. The length of the notice period is generally determined by the national CBA. Employees who are dismissed or made redundant are entitled to payment in lieu of notice if they are not required to perform their notice period.

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