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How to Hire Employees in France

Considering expanding your global team into France? Read on to find out how to hire employees in France, in complete compliance with the law and with the best understanding of local market conditions. 

Key Takeaways 

  • International companies can leverage France’s highly skilled workforce, excellent infrastructure, and business-friendly policies to establish or expand operations.
  • Understanding France’s rich cultural history, corporate etiquette, and work-life balance is key to hiring and retaining French employees.
  • Legal requirements when hiring in France include adherence to stringent employment laws concerning contracts, working hours, and employee benefits.
  • Options for hiring in France include direct hiring, using a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), or an Employer of Record (EOR).

Why Should International Companies Hire Employees in France?

International companies often view France as a strategic location to hire employees, expand operations, or establish a European base. France’s allure is rooted in a blend of factors: 

  1. France boasts a highly educated and skilled workforce. French educational institutions, particularly in science, technology, and business fields, are globally renowned. As a result, companies can tap into a talent pool proficient in various disciplines and languages, including English, providing a competitive edge in the global marketplace.
  2. France’s advanced infrastructure is a key advantage. It boasts efficient transportation, logistics networks, and sophisticated digital infrastructure, which makes business operations seamless. Additionally, its geographical position serves as a gateway to the European market, offering easy access to key European economies.
  3. France’s business-friendly policies make it an attractive destination. The French government offers several incentives to foreign companies, such as research tax credits and innovation grants, thus encouraging business growth and development.

What Are the Important Cultural Considerations When Hiring Employees in France?

Understanding the French cultural context is essential when hiring employees in France. Cultural missteps can lead to misunderstandings and suboptimal workplace relationships.

  • Work-life balance is a cornerstone of the French employment ethos. France’s statutory 35-hour workweek is a testament to this belief. Employees value their time off and are not typically expected to work overtime or be available after hours, making this a crucial factor in job satisfaction.
  • Hierarchy and formality are also ingrained in French corporate culture. French employees respect authority, and decisions often flow from the top down. Initial interactions tend to be formal, and professional titles are commonly used. This level of respect is expected to be reciprocated by employers.
  • Communication is often direct yet polite in France. Criticism may be delivered straightforwardly, but it’s usually constructive. Understanding this nuance can avoid misconceptions and aid in building effective working relationships.

What Are the Important Legal Considerations When Hiring in France?

Navigating France’s legal landscape can be complex, given its extensive labor laws. It is important to consider the following matters: 

  • Employment contracts in France can be permanent (Contract Duration Indeterminée, or CDI) or fixed-term (Contract Duration Determinée, or CDD). While CDIs are common, CDDs are only permitted under certain conditions, like temporary replacement or seasonal work. Any deviation can lead to the contract being deemed a CDI, which carries additional obligations for employers.
  • France’s working hours are tightly regulated. The legal limit is 35 hours per week, with overtime being heavily compensated. Also, employers must respect the “right to disconnect”, meaning employees are not obligated to respond to work-related communications outside working hours.
  • France’s laws also mandate comprehensive social security coverage for employees, which includes health insurance, pension contributions, and unemployment insurance. Employers bear a significant proportion of these costs.
  • Employment termination is another area of strict regulation. French law requires justification for dismissal and prescribes detailed procedures for layoffs.

What Is the Best Method for Hiring Employees in France, Direct Hiring, PEO or EOR?

The method for hiring in France largely depends on the company’s circumstances and needs.

  • Direct hiring is ideal for businesses with a subsidiary or branch in France  (or interested in opening one) and familiarity with local labor laws. It provides complete control over hiring and managing employees, which can be beneficial for strategic roles.
  • Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) co-employ your staff, handling HR, payroll, and compliance, while you retain day-to-day control. This approach simplifies the administrative burden, which can be advantageous for SMEs without substantial HR resources. To learn more, read our article on the PEO business model
  • A France Employer of Record (EOR) is another viable option. An EOR hires and pays staff on your behalf. They manage all legal and compliance issues, making it an excellent choice for companies wanting to test the market without setting up a legal entity. To read more about the difference between PEO and EOR, read our PEO vs EOR guide. 

In choosing between these options, companies must consider their size, long-term plans, familiarity with French labor laws, and administrative capacity.

It should be noted that France PEOs and EORs generally operate in France under a framework known as ‘Portage Salarial‘. 

Hiring in France — Choose the Right Business Setup for You

Hiring in France presents international companies with a unique set of opportunities and challenges. France’s skilled workforce, excellent infrastructure, and business-friendly policies make it an attractive destination for expansion. However, to succeed, understanding the country’s cultural and legal nuances is essential. Whether through direct hiring, using a PEO, or an EOR, choosing the right approach to hiring can help a company seamlessly integrate into the French business landscape.


A CDI (Contract à Durée Indéterminée) is a permanent contract with no end date. On the other hand, a CDD (Contract à Durée Déterminée) is a fixed-term contract, only permitted under specific circumstances. CDIs offer more job security, and terminating them can be more complex than CDDs.

Overtime is strictly regulated in France. Generally, any hours worked above the 35-hour weekly limit are considered overtime. Overtime must be compensated with additional pay or compensatory time off, depending on the employment contract and collective bargaining agreements.