In France, the Code du Travail or labour code centralises all the regulatory and legal texts about employment law.

You can consult the labour code by clicking here.

The first labour code, the ‘Code du travail et de la prévoyance sociale’ (or the code of labour and social security) was adopted in 1910 and covered the various labour agreements including employment contracts, wage contracts and apprenticeship contracts.

Since then, the labour code has developed, and a variety of laws and regulations have been added, modified or rescinded.

In France, employment contracts are subject to the civil code, legal texts that govern the areas of:

  • Individual working relations (employment contracts)
  • Employee health
  • Employment
  • Collective working relations
  • Health and safety at work
  • Professional training and development

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Employment termination procedures

Important changes have been made to labour law over time to make the labour market in France more modern and fluid. Labour relations have been accentuated and encouraged, and measures primarily aimed at reducing labour costs in France have been implemented.

Contact termination by mutual consent (a rupture conventionelle)

As a result of developments in labour law, procedures for terminating an employment contract by mutual consent through a rupture conventionelle have become flexible. The employer and the employee can decide on the amicable termination of an employment contract. In order for a termination by mutual consent to be valid, it must be ratified by the administration.

The conditions for the termination by mutual consent should be discussed by the employer and employee at a meeting. The employee can select a person from the company to accompany him/or her if they want to.

In order to make the process more flexible, the government has created an online platform for ratification:

It is important to note that in France contracts may be terminated for economic reasons (redundancy) or for reasons related to the employee (dismissal). As in other countries, any termination must be justifiable (made on fair grounds) and follow the procedures set down by law (detail of the reasons for terminations, number of employees affected by the terminations and the company headcount).


Redundancy may take place when a position is eliminated due to the conversion of posts or if an employee refuses the modification of a key element of an employment contract following:

  • Economic difficulties
  • Technological developments
  • Restructuring to ensure the competitiveness of the company
  • Or the suspension of business activities.

The 14 June 2013 law for the safeguard of employment, provides businesses encountering economic difficulties with alternative solutions to redundancy, primarily through job retention agreements.

Dismissal on personal grounds

The procedure for dismissal on personal grounds may be triggered by employee misconduct or by behaviour that does not qualify as misconduct but does causes damage to the company. Before the procedure is implemented, the employee generally receives a warning and then has an interview to give him/her the opportunity to explain his/her actions and to express him/herself.

The employer must respect the employee’s legal notice period (2 months for employees who have worked for the company for more than two years).

Indemnities for dismissal on personal grounds are equivalent to indemnities for redundancy.

Click here for more information about the procedures.