Home Working in France Labor Law French labor laws: working time and leave
Last update on September 14, 2020

Read this comprehensive guide to French labor laws, including the leave you’re entitled to and the maximum number of working hours per week.

After finding a job in France, inform yourself about the working conditions in France (working time, overtime, night work, young people work legislation, paid leave). This article will help you get an idea.

Working time

In France, the legal length of the working week is 35 hours in all types of companies. The working day may not exceed 10 hours. Furthermore, employees may not work for more than 4.5 hours without a break. The maximum working day may extend to 12 hours under a collective agreement.

In principle, people cannot work more than 48 hours a week, 44 hours per week on average over a period of 12 consecutive weeks (up to a maximum of 46 hours, under conditions). Are you Looking for a Job
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Employees must get breaks, lasting a minimum of 20 minutes, at least every six hours. All workers must have a daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours (nine hours in certain cases depending on collective agreements).

The minimum weekly rest period is 35 consecutive hours (11 hours plus a 24 consecutive hour rest period per week). There are waivers for some activities (machine operators, seasonal workers). Sundays are, in general, considered rest days.


Overtime pays as follows:

  • 25% an hour for each of the first eight hours of overtime (from the 36th to the 43rd hour inclusive)
  • 50 percent for each hour after that

Many exceptions exist, especially under collective agreements. Some managerial staff who are autonome work more than 35 hours a week, but receive additional holiday days.

Night work

In France, night work is working between 21.00 and 06.00 may not in principle exceed eight hours a day and 40 hours a week (44 hours if governed by decree or collective agreement). Employees also receive weekly rest days or extra pay for night work.

Pregnant women working nights must receive daytime work throughout their pregnancy and during the legal postnatal leave period if they so request.

Young people

The maximum working day for under-18s and apprentices is eight hours (seven hours a day for under-16s working during school holidays). For under-18s and apprentices, the absolute maximum length of the working week is 35 hours.


Annual paid leave

All workers have a right to paid leave once they work at least one month during the reference period. This period runs from 1 June of the previous year to 31 May of the current year.

Workers may then claim two-and-a half working days’ leave for each month worked. This amounts to five weeks of paid leave per year worked.

In principle, paid leave only accounts for time worked when determining the entitlement. Periods of absence from work are not part of the calculation. However, certain periods are valid periods of employment, such as annual leave the previous year, maternity leave, training leave, or time off sick if the collective agreement covers this.

Paid leave dates are decided by mutual agreement between the employer and the employee, or, failing that, by the employer.

Sick leave

To claim daily allowances, contributions have to have been paid for 200 hours during the three months prior to stopping work. On presentation of form E104, periods paid in another European country are taken into account.

Maternity leave

Maternity leave is 16 weeks per child (6 weeks before and 10 weeks after the birth).

Paternity leave

Paternity leave is 11 consecutive calendar days in the case of a single birth and 18 days in the case of multiple births, as from the birth of the child. Employees cannot split this leave up. It can be together with the three-day leave for the birth of a child.

Parental child-rearing leave

Following maternity leave, in order to look after the child, either parent who is an employee may ask to benefit from this. Maximum of three years.

Parental presence leave

To look after a child who is disabled, has suffered an accident or is seriously ill.

Individual training leave (CIF)

This cannot exceed one year. Employees receive partial maintenance of the salary.

Sabbatical leave

Can be between six and 11 months.

Eligibility for some of these types of leave may be conditional upon seniority in the company, or minimum contributions to the public social security scheme.