Law

Current position regarding working time in France

By Marina Doithier, LMBE Avocats

Working time in France has been the subject of two major reforms (in 1998 and 2000) setting the legal duration of full-time work at 35 hours per week, as an annual average, instead of 39 hours previously, in return for more flexible working hours.

This reduction has led to a better redefinition of what constitutes time worked, by distinguishing actual working time, break time, changing time and commuting time.

However, this legislative scheme is no longer suited to the current economic situation, which is less simple than at the end of the 1990s, and it no longer seems desirable to organise working time in a uniform manner for all companies with different activities and requirements. In addition, the allocation of managerial employees’ working time (in days over the year) has often been considered by the courts as being unfair, the courts holding that the allocation did not enable the employees’ safety and health to be protected.

It is under those circumstances that the French government has brought in a reform of working time which will mainly enable personnel representatives and trade unions to actively participate in a more flexible redefinition of working time within each company.

Opponents of this reform argue that it will lead to the risk that employers will impose an increase in working time. However, any derogation from the system of 35 hours will have to be as a result of a collective bargaining within the company, which will help social equilibrium.


Marina Doithier

Marina Doithier

LMBE Avocats, Paris, France
T: +33 1 43 12 80 80
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Marina specialises in employment and social security law as well as advising companies and international groups on day-to-day employment issues (from the hiring process to the termination of employment contracts) and with restructuring and outsourcing issues (which include information-consultation processes with employee representative councils). Marina also has a broad trial and appellate litigation practice. Finally, Marina is a member of a professional group of labour lawyers, she teaches as a lecturer in the Paris School Bar and in a main professional teaching organisation for HR managers and directors.


Published: October 2016 l Photo: Colourbox.de - Sergii 

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