French labour laws - Working time and leave

Working time

In France, the legal length of the working week is 35 hours. Journalists, however, are paid on the basis of a total number of working days per year (currently, 212 days at France 24 and 194 days at RFI and MCD). This type of contract is called "Forfait-jour" under French labour laws.

The working day may not exceed 10 hours. The maximum working day may be extended to 12 hours under a collective agreement. Under current agreements 12-hour shifts are possible at France Médias Monde.

In principle, no more than 48 hours a week may be worked, 44 hours per week on average over a period of 12 consecutive weeks (up to a maximum of 46 hours, under conditions).

Breaks, lasting a minimum of 20 minutes, must be granted to the employees at least every 6 hours. All workers must be allowed a daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours between shifts (9 hours in certain cases, usually because of an emergency). 

The minimum weekly rest period is 35 consecutive hours (11 hours plus a 24 consecutive hour rest period per week). Under the journalists' collective agreement (Convention collective des journalistes) they get 59 consecutive hours (11 hours + a 48 hour rest period per week).


Overtime only applies to employees following the 35-hour workweek. Those paid on the basis of a number of working days per year do not earn money in extra time.

Overtime must be paid for as follows:
-    25 percent an hour for each of the first eight hours of overtime (from the 36th to the 43rd hour inclusive)
-    50 percent for each hour after that

Night work

Night work is performed between 21.00 and 06.00 may not in principle exceed 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week (44 hours if governed by decree or collective agreement). Night work is compensated for with extra pay or weekly rest days.

Pregnant women working nights must be given daytime work throughout their pregnancy and during the legal postnatal leave period if they so request.

People working more than 270 hours per year between 21.00 and 6.00 are considered night workers ("travailleur de nuit") from a legal standpoint. Night workers are required to get a medical examination every 6 months with the company's occupational physician, located on the 5th floor. 

Upon request, night workers have priority access to day-time positions when they become available.


Holiday leave and working hours in France




Annual paid leave 
All workers have a right to paid leave once they have worked at least one month during the reference period (which runs from 1 June of the previous year to 31 May of the current year). 

Workers are then entitled to two-and-a half working days’ leave for each month worked, i.e. five weeks of paid leave per year worked. Under the journalists' collective agreement, they get 6 weeks of paid leave.

In principle, only periods actually worked are taken into account when determining the entitlement to paid leave. Periods of absence from work are not counted. However, certain periods are considered as valid periods of employment, such as annual leave the previous year, maternity leave, training leave, or time off sick if the collective agreement covers this. 

Paid leave dates are decided by mutual agreement between the employer and the employee, or, failing that, by the employer.

Sick leave
To be able to benefit from daily allowances, contributions have to have been paid for 200 hours during the 3 months prior to stopping work. On presentation of form E104, the periods for which contributions have been paid in another European country are taken into account.

When on sick leave, employees must mail the second page of their medical certificate to their employer within 48 hours.

Maternity leave 
Maternity leave is 16 weeks per child (6 weeks before and 10 weeks after the birth).

Paternity leave
Paternity leave is 11 consecutive calendar days in the case of a single birth and 18 days in the case of multiple births, as from the birth of the child. This leave cannot be split up. It can be taken together with the 3 day leave granted on the birth of a child.

Parental child-rearing leave
Following maternity leave, in order to look after the child, either parent who is an employee may ask to benefit from this. Maximum of three years.

Parental presence leave 
To look after a child who is disabled, has suffered an accident or is seriously ill.

Individual training leave (CIF)
This cannot exceed one year. Partial maintenance of the salary is guaranteed.

Sabbatical leave
Can be between 6 and 11 months. Eligibility for a sabbatical leave is conditionnal upon 36 months of seniority in the company and 6 years of work experience.

Rédigé par CFTC / Expatica