Labour Law in France: The New French Labour Code
Labour Law in France: The New French Labour Code

Labour Law in France: The New French Labour Code


The French prime minister has recently announced a new labour code for 2018. The reform focus on giving priority to social dialogue and collective bargaining agreements to set rules on 3 basic subjects:

  • Working hours
  • Wages
  • Working conditions

The central idea behind this reform is to limit Labour Code content to the fundamental rights and also default those rules which will apply in the absence of a collective bargaining agreement. A draft law was submitted to the National Assembly in first quarter of 2016, with the goal of completing the Labour Code reform before the end of 2018.


The Code Structure:

  • The first tier of the new code guarantee fundamental principles,
  • the second tier deal with the areas open to negotiation, and
  • the third one covers the provisions applicable where there is no collective agreement.
  • Rules of principles, such as the 35-hours working week, the minimum wage and the indefinite term contract will remain.
  • A specially created commission to a report suggesting 61 essential principles governing the new labour code, including the following:
    • gender equality,
    • indefinite term contract,
    • the prohibition of discriminations,
    • fair dismissal,
    • the maternity leave before and after giving birth,
    • equal pay for equal work, etc.


The Recasting of Branches:

In France, there are various levels of bargaining:

  • Company-level
  • The occupational-field-level called “Branches”
  • The National-one

The government has reduced the number of “branches” from approximately 700 to 200 in 2 years and now aims to keep only 100 “branches”.

This recasting of “branches” aims to promote collective bargaining. Indeed, it is at the branch level that rules which will apply to all employers and employees of the sector will be negotiated.

The main idea is to regroup “branches” covering less than five thousand employees and to abolish those which have not bargained for a long time. It should increase their impact in the employment law landscape.

The Personal Activity Account:

The personal activity account is an ambitious new device regroups all employee benefits on a single online portal which would secure professional career paths and avoid those changes in the employee’s employment.

It will combine

  • the personal training account
  • rechargeable rights to unemployment insurance, and
  • the account recognizing the painfulness of certain profession in the personal activity account.

Allowing workers to convert all their social rights into points, in order to finance training, leave periods, etc.

Although this is the first step toward the creation of a true single personal activity account, this is going to be a path full of pitfalls. Indeed, many legal and technical obstacles will have to be overcome.


The Negotiation of the Unemployment Insurance Convention:

A new unemployment insurance agreement must be negotiated by the social partners against the background of high and rising unemployment, benefits could become regressive. Job seekers receive the same amount throughout their compensation up to two years or even three years if they are more than 50 years’ old. The government now asks to amount of said unemployment benefits decrease (in stages) until the end of the compensation.



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