Moving to a new country can be a whirlwind experience, with so many different issues to consider. To help with that process, below are ten key points relating to your employment if you are thinking of, or are in the process of, moving to France to work.
Ensure Your Contract of Employment Is Written
- Most employees are legally entitled to a written statement of the main terms and conditions of employment. When moving to France, you should seek to finalize all contractual terms before you agree to move. It is important to try to agree on practical terms such as rental costs, travel allowances, children’s education, and other specific provisions – and to have them all set out in your contract of employment. Your contract should also set out what will happen when your contract terminates. Will you return to your home country and have all relocation costs covered? Will you return to your previous job? Will you be made redundant? This should be carefully considered and clearly set out in your contract of employment.
Check If Your Contract Is Subject to a Collective Bargaining Agreement
- It is very important to check if a collective bargaining agreement applies to your contract as the rules laid down by the Labor Code and the Collective Bargaining Agreement which applies in the company govern the drafting of the employment contract and in particular clauses such as wages and benefits, status and classification.
- Regarding wages and benefits, it is important to check if the employer is in compliance with the minimum wage requirements and if there are employee savings schemes in the company such as incentives, profit-sharing, company savings plans.
Check the Validity of Some Specific Clauses
- Even if you don’t think about it yet, you will have to leave your job one day. That is why you should read each of the clauses of your employment contract and check if it contains a non-competition clause. This does not have any effect during the contractual relationship. But it produces them on the occasion of the termination of your contract and not the least! By signing an employment contract containing a non-competition clause, you undertake, when you leave, not to engage in a new activity competing with that of the company. This clause, therefore, minimizes your chances of finding a job. In France, there are rules that govern the validity of a non-compete clause (especially, the employer must pay a non-compete allowance. This indemnity can be subject to negotiation before the signature of the employment contract).
- Your employment contract also sets your working hours. Your employment contract may indicate that you are subject to or deviate from the collective working time and practice individualized working hours. Flat-rate pay agreement covering days worked or hourly clauses may also be proposed to you and, under these conditions, you do not have to comply with collective working hours. In any case, it is necessary to pay particular attention to the drafting of this clause.
- The mention of the place of work in your contract is for information purposes only, unless it is stipulated in your contract, by a clear and precise clause, that you will perform your work exclusively in that place. Otherwise, you may work in another workplace. Clauses relating to mobility can be drafted also and the French Labor Code does not validate them all. Particular care should be taken regarding this provision.
Understand Your Protection from Dismissal and Your Obligations from Resignation
- An employer can only dismiss an employee for a real and serious cause or economic grounds. If the dismissal is an unfair dismissal, you’ll be entitled to damages calculated in consideration of your seniority in the company.
- If you decide to resign, be aware that there is a notice period that you have to comply with, which varies according to the applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement. If you do not comply with it, you may be liable to pay damages to your employer.
Understand How Social Protection and Taxation Works
- Employees must pay tax on their income and it is deducted at source by the employer. If you are not a tax resident in France, you have to refer to the applicable international tax treaty.
- A foreign employee who works and resides in France is, in principle, subject to French social protection legislation, regardless of his nationality and the place of establishment of his employer. If you are seconded to France, you can, however, remain affiliated to the social security system of your country of origin if there is a social security agreement between your country and France. In any case, it is better to check the validity of your employment contract with a professional.
Attorney at Law