🇫🇷 Employment Agreements in France

Henning Wandsleb
Henning Wandsleb
  • Updated

Oyster policy is denoted in purple.


In France, the following types of employment contracts must be in writing - in French:

  • fixed-term employment contracts;
  • part-time employment contracts; and 
  • temporary employment contracts concluded with contingent workers.

Team members must benefit from a mandatory medical examination in the first 3 months of employment. Pursuant to Article L.6315-1 of the French Labor Code, employees must be informed that they will be entitled to a professional review with their manager, every two years, which is dedicated to their professional development, in particular with regard to qualifications and employment. Advanced Electronic Signatures are accepted in France (Qualified Electronic Signatures aren’t required)

Oyster local employment contracts are designed to be locally compliant out of the box and are iterated on hundreds of hires. The Oyster way is designed to be simpler, and faster and increase the protection of working through us as a partner.

While our agreements allow various options to be chosen, non-standard employment terms aren’t possible as these add additional risk to employment and dramatically slow down the initial hiring and onboarding timelines

As such, Oyster’s employment agreements, whether fixed-term or indefinite-term, must be formalized in writing (in French & English), communicated to team members for electronic signature in the days preceding the start of employment and at the latest within 2 days of the start of employment (per CBA requirements).  

Because Oyster is a fully distributed company, a Remote Work Schedule is entered into and sets the remote working conditions (including work schedules, expectations, equipment, expenses/work-from-home allowance). 

The Oyster Confidentiality & Intellectual Property Agreement (CIPA) is designed to protect the rights of our clients in a simple and scalable way

Restrictive Covenant Agreements (RCA) primarily serve as a deterrent and are fairly common in French employment contracts, especially for senior employees or those with access to confidential information, senior responsibilities, or contact with the clientele. However, such agreements are traditionally enforced between an employer and an employee, not between an employer, an employee, and the employer’s customer to protect the customer’s business, clients, and employees (which is likely to be held unenforceable).  

Indefinite term/Open-ended Contracts 

The open-ended, indefinite contract is considered the “normal and general” default employment relationship. Indefinite-term employment contracts don’t have to be in writing. However, if the employment contract is in writing, it must be in French. Foreign employees can request a translation of the contract in their own language.

While the law doesn’t require these employment agreements to be formalized, Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) often require them to be written. This is the case of the CBA applicable to Oyster. The employer and employee can freely agree to the terms of the employment contract unless a CBA provides mandatory requirements. A written contract is recommended.  

Fixed-term Contracts  

Fixed-term employment contracts are employment contracts entered into for a defined duration, set in advance by the parties. In France, these are very specific, notably, because neither party may terminate them prior to their term, except in the event of mutual agreement, serious misconduct, force majeure, if the employee is declared unfit to work or if the team member finds alternative employment under an indefinite-term contract.

Fixed-term contracts can’t have the purpose or effect of permanently filling a job related to normal, ongoing company operations. A failure to comply with these requirements can result in the fixed-term agreement being reclassified into an indefinite employment agreement and fines.

These contracts are only allowed in limited circumstances. Some of these circumstances include:

  • to replace a temporarily unavailable employee (the name, title and professional category of the permanent employee to be replaced has to be added in the EA as well as the type of leave they’re on); 
  • to meet a sudden increase in business activity (the reasons for such temporary increase must be detailed);
  • seasonable jobs (the reasons for such temporary increase must be detailed); or
  • recruiting engineers and executives to achieve a defined objective when allowed by a CBA. Oyster’s CBA doesn’t allow this type of fixed-term contract. 

Contracts for fixed-term employment must be in writing or they automatically become indefinite contracts. The maximum duration of a fixed-term contract is 18 months in most circumstances. A fixed-term contract can be usually renewed twice, but the maximum duration is still 18 months. For example, an employee is hired for a 12-month contract. The contract may be renewed up to two more times, with the total of the two renewals not exceeding six months. A collective bargaining agreement (CBA) may extend the maximum number of renewals and length of a fixed-term contract, but not if it has the effect or purpose of permanently filling the position.

In some circumstances, an employer can hire a fixed-term employee on a contract without a specific end date (for example, when replacing an absent employee or recruiting seasonal employees). The contract must specify the minimum duration (within the statutory limit). These contracts without a specific term can’t be renewed.

A fixed-term contract should be signed by both parties. The employment contract must be sent to the employee within two working days after hiring at the latest. Per our CBA requirements, Oyster’s fixed-term employment agreements must be communicated to team members for signature in the days preceding the start of employment and at the latest within 2 days of the start of employment and formalized in writing (in French & English).  

A fixed-term contract can include a probation period of which the maximum length is based on the duration of the fixed-term contract. The probation period is limited to:

  • two weeks for a contract up to six months; or
  • one month for contracts longer than six months.

After the probation period, the fixed-term agreement ends by operation of law without requiring notice of termination. At least one month before the end of the fixed term employment, Oyster will inform the team member in writing whether and, if so, subject to which conditions Oyster is willing to extend the employment

An employee working under a fixed-term contract has the same rights as an employee working under an indefinite-term contract except in relation to the termination. Fixed-term employees must receive the same compensation that an employee with equivalent qualifications and performing the same tasks would receive under an indefinite employment contract after the probation period has ended.

When fixed-term contracts end and no indefinite contract is entered, compensation is paid after termination (10% of the total gross remuneration paid during the fixed contract

Part-time and Other Contracts  

Part-time employment contracts must additionally contain the following information:

  • an affirmative statement that the contract is for part-time work;
  • the specific working hours; and 
  • the number of overtime hours allowed.

Contingent or agency employment agreements are well-regulated and recognized in France. Contingent workers are employed by an external company and their services are provided to the contracting company.  These workers have the same rights as permanent employees in some areas, including:

  • working hours;
  • weekly rest periods and public holidays;
  • workplace health and safety; and
  • equal pay for equal work.ç



The indefinite-term contract is the typical form of employment relationship in France.


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