Glossary of useful terms

Délégués du personnel (DP) = Staff Delegates


This is the most widespread form of employee representation in France; its legitimacy is very firmly established, even though the powers and responsibilities of Staff delegates are limited in comparison with those of the works councils and trade-union delegates.


Who are the Staff delegates & what do they do?

Duties include presenting individual and collective grievances to management. They bring to the attention of the Labour Inspectorate any complaints or comments in connection with the relevant regulations.

In cases of infringement of the rights and freedoms of individuals, delegates request the employer to take corrective action and, should it become necessary, bring the matter before a tribunal.

Once a month, Staff delegates submit questions to management which are then discussed during a meeting. Management must in turn provide written answers within 6 days.

Comité d'entreprise (CE) = Works Council


The Works Council is a collegiate body made up of representatives elected by the employees (titulars and substitutes) as well as union representatives chosen by the unions. The head of the company (or his representative) serves as President of the council.


The Works council is entrusted with economic, welfare and cultural responsibilities, such as discounted movie tickets, gym memberships, gift vouchers, etc. and is provided with the necessary materials and financial means to acquit these duties.

It has consultative prerogatives with regards to employer initiatives concerning the organisation and management of the company.

It holds a meeting at least once a month.

At France Médias Monde, there are 15 seats for staff representatives (and as many substitutes).

The Works council is a counterweight to managerial prerogatives, yet also enables their exercise to be rationalised.

CHSCT = Committee for Hygiene, Safety and Working Conditions


The purpose of the Committee for health, safety and working conditions is to work to protect the health and safety of workers as well as to improve working conditions.


It is composed of the head of the company and employee members appointed by a special body comprising elected staff representatives (works council members + staff delegates).

The CHSCT has various means at its disposal to help achieve its goal . It has special rights of access to information, may take certain initiatives (such as issuing a notification of danger or calling on experts) and performs a major consultative role.

Elections to Works councils


works council is set up by means of an election every four years (FMM has an agreement stipulating a shorter term of three years). Members of the Works council and Staff Delegates are elected at the same time in separate ballots. 

Staff representatives are legally granted time-off rights, credited as working time.

They are protected by a special status which includes a rule prohibiting their dismissal without prior administrative authorisation.

Délégué syndical = Union Representative


Every representative union which has members in a company employing more than 50 employees is entitled to appoint a trade union delegate (union representative) chosen from among the unionised employees.

Due to the size of France Médias Monde's workforce (1500-2000 employees) unions can have up to 3 or 4 union representatives.

They represent their union in dealings with the head of the company and have the task of protecting the interests of the company’s workforce as a whole.

When negotiating company-level agreements, which is one of their functions as members of the trade-union delegation, they’re expected not to give preference to interests that are either too narrow or too broad

A trade-union representative may be appointed to the works council in a consultative capacity.

NAO (Négociations Annuelles Obligatoires) = Mandatory annual salary negotiations


Known to most employees as “salary negotiations”, the mandatory annual negotiations actually encompass a variety of topics.


The employer must convene every year union representatives to negotiate on :

  • real wages, the actual duration and organisation of working time, including the introduction of part-time work. The mandatory annual negotiations on wages staff also include the definition and programming of measures to remove the pay gap and differences in career development for women and men.

  • Measures relating to the employability and job retention of workers with disabilities : conditions of access to employment, vocational training and promotion, working conditions, etc.

When the employer has not taken the initiative in this negotiation for more than 12 months after the previous round of negotiation, negotiation must commit to the request of a representative trade union, within 15 days of the request.

Employment contract


An employment contract exists as soon as a person (the employee) undertakes to work, in return for compensation, for and under the orders and control of another person (the employer) in a private company. Most often, the employment contract must be written, with the exception of full-time open-ended contracts. Its execution requires a certain number of obligations, for both the employee and the employer.


The employer may be a natural person (individual entrepreneur, etc.) or a corporate body (SARL, association, etc.) governed by private law. In this latter case, the contract is signed by the person who has the power to engage the legal entity: manager, director whose functions include the hiring of employees, etc. As for the employee, any person may sign an employment contract with, however, some restrictions concerning adult persons under guardianship and young people under the age of 18

CDI = open-ended employment contract


The open-ended employment contract (or CDI) is the normal form of employment contract between an employer and an employee, and has no fixed term. Employers must therefore use this type of contract unless they can prove that they are in a situation allowing another type of contract (fixed term contract, interim employee supply contract).


The contract may be concluded in writing or it may be the result of a verbal agreement between the employer and the employee for full-time open-ended employment contracts (unless specified otherwise by the provisions of law or branch agreements). However, the employer must inform the employee in writing of the essential points of the employment relationship: the identity of the two parties, the place of work, the position to be taken up and the pay.


The probationary period ("période d'essai") is contained in a specific clause of the contract. It is only valid if it is put in writing, and if the principle and the duration of the said period are set as soon as the employee is recruited.

At France Médias Monde, the probationary period for journalists is 4 months. During this time, either party can put an end to the contract without giving notice.


The parties are free to include any clauses on which they agree in the contract, except for those contrary to the mandatory provisions of the laws and regulations (discrimination clauses, for example) and to those of the branch agreement applicable to the company.


Characterised as they are by the fact that they do not have a defined term, an open-ended contract may be terminated either at the wish of one of the parties (redundancy, resignation, retirement...), by agreement between the parties (see "Rupture conventionnelle") or for reasons of force majeure.

CDD = Fixed-term employment contract


A fixed-term employment contract (or CDD) is an employment contract by which an employer (company, enterprise...) recruits an employee for a limited period of time. Such contracts are possible only to perform a specific, temporary task, and only in those cases set out by law. For example, a fixed-term employment contract may be used : to replace an employee who is absent or provisionally working part time (parenting leave...), or to replace an employee who has not yet taken up their position. It may also be used in the event of a temporary increase in the activity of the company, for seasonal work or for State-aided employment within the framework of employment support measures.


It must be drawn up in writing and may be for a "specified term" (the contract defines an end date and therefore a duration) or an "unspecified term" (for replacements of employees on sick or maternity leave, for example), in which case it must specify a minimum duration. It ends on the date set at the outset or, in the absence of such a specified term, when the purpose for which it was signed is fulfilled (return of the employee being replaced...). The maximum total duration of the fixed-term contract (which may be renewable once) is generally 18 months (or 24 months in certain cases) and varies according to the grounds on which the contract was signed.


A fixed-term employment contract cannot be used to fill a job linked to the normal, permanent activity of a company on a lasting basis. If such a contract is signed outside the legal framework, it may be requalified as an open-ended employment contract by the courts at the request of the employee, along with appropriate severance payment.

Forfait annuel en jours = Annual requirement in days


Since the Aubry II Law of 2000, a system of requirement in days, allowing for calculation of time worked in days and not hours, can be implemented for autonomous executives when organising their working commitments, by collective agreement of the branch or firm, coupled with an individual agreement.

Since the law of March 31st 2005, this option is also extended to cover employees whose time worked cannot be determined in advance and who enjoy autonomy in the organisation of their working schedule.

At France Médias Monde, the annual requirement is set at 204 days. With management's consent, it is however possible to work up to 218 days a year. Every day worked beyond 204 and up to 218 is valued at 125% of the regular daily salary.

Rupture conventionnelle = a mutual parting of ways...

The mutually agreed termination (Rupture conventionnelle) allows the employer and employee to terminate the employment contract by a mutual agreement.

Within this framework, one party cannot impose the termination of the contract on the other party; it should be a genuine mutual agreement between the parties to terminate the employment contract.

In essence, this is only possible if the employee is also willing to leave the company and the day-to-day relationship between parties is still reasonable.

It should be noted that a termination by mutual agreement (rupture conventionnelle) is different from a compromise agreement (in French “transaction”). Many persons tend to confuse the two agreements.

Under a “rupture conventionnelle”, both parties are required to sign a very formal agreement, which confirms their mutual agreement, and the employee is entitled to a specific amount of compensation which cannot be less than the legal severance package (indemnité légale de licenciement), as stipulated in article L1237-13 of French Labour law.

It is also important to note that a particular procedure needs to be followed and importantly the termination of the contract compulsorily needs to be specifically authorised by the Local Employment Authorities (DIRECCTE).

In the event of a refusal from the DIRECCTE, the contract of employment is not terminated and the employment relationship between the parties would continue.

If you wish to negotiate a rupture conventionnelle, please contact a CFTC union representative.

Transaction = Financial settlement

A “transaction” is an agreement between the parties in order to settle an ongoing dispute and whereby the parties will waive their rights to bring the matter before a Court.

It is important to be aware that a settlement may only come about after a formal dismissal or redundancy. French Law clearly states that the parties may not come to a settlement without such a dismissal.

Thus, it is important to note that a settlement agreement is not a form of termination of the contract.

In order for a settlement agreement to be valid, the parties are required to make reciprocal concessions notably the employer is required to pay to the employee an amount (i.e. settlement compensation) on top and above his/her minimum entitlements.

A settlement agreement can be reached at nearly any stage i.e. before the employee seizes the Employment Court or during the procedure before the employment courts.

If you wish to negotiate a settlement, please  contact a CFTC union representative.

Démission = Resignation

In France, when the employee takes the initiative of terminating his/her contract of employment, he/she should resign from his/her position.

Under French Law, such a resignation must be shown to have resulted from a clear and unambiguous decision on the part of the employee.

Thus, it is recommended that the employee’s decision of resignation should be in writing.

Nevertheless, it is not frequent for employees to resign from their positions as in this event, they neither benefit from unemployment benefits nor from compensation on termination.

In the event of resignation, the employee would normally be entitled to compensation for holidays not taken and they would receive their salary in return for continuous work during their notice.

If you wish to resign, please contact a CFTC union representative so that we can help you weigh your options.

Licenciement pour motif personnel = Dismissal on personal grounds

In France, the employer needs to produce objective justifiable grounds (in French “motif reel et sérieux") in order to terminate the contract of an employee.

French Law makes a clear distinction between dismissal (which is termination on personal grounds i.e. it relates to the person) and redundancy (which is termination on economic grounds). The two grounds for termination under French Law are totally separate and may not be mixed together or be applied to the same employee.

As indicated above, a dismissal is termination on personal grounds.

There are three levels of misconduct in France :

  • Faute Simple (Misconduct)
  • Faute Grave (Serious Misconduct)
  • Faute Lourde (Gross Misconduct)

What constitutes justifiable grounds will vary in each case and it is highly recommended that professional advice be sought should you receive a letter from HR calling for a preliminary interview ("entretien préalable").

The initial level of characterising a particular infringement would be a “faute simple” – or simple misconduct in English. Examples of a ‘faute simple’ would include absences without authorisation, insubordination, etc.

French statute and case law hold that the principal criterion for establishing if the ground for dismissal should be considered a “faute grave” (serious misconduct) is whether or not it is possible for the employee to be allowed to remain on company premises.

In the event of a dismissal on grounds of serious misconduct, no notice should be complied with and pending the dismissal procedure, the employer could decide to suspend the employee temporarily from work (in French “mise à pied à titre conservatoire”)

A “faute lourde” would tend to be a somewhat exceptional circumstance in that French statute and case law hold that the principal criterion for establishing whether the ground for dismissal should be considered to be a “faute lourde” is whether there was an intention by the employee to harm the employer and/or company.

In order to dismiss an employee, regardless of the level of misconduct, the employer must follow a specific procedure, notably the employee should be summoned to a preliminary interview (in French “entretien préalable”), the employer should hold the meeting and the dismissal letter may only be sent two full days after the initial meeting.

Should you be summoned to a preliminary interview, you must immediately get in touch with a CFTC union representative so that we can assist you and accompany you to the interview. We can also provide you with legal representation if needed.

Of course, a specific procedure is applicable for employees who are considered to be protected under French Law notably staff representatives, members of a works council etc.

It should be noted that in France, employees can very easily bring the matter before the Court in order to claim damages for unjustified dismissal (in French “licenciement sans cause réelle et sérieuse”) and for non-compliance with the procedure. Thus, employers should show great circumspection when envisaging terminating the employee’s contract of employment.

CSG = Generalised Social Contribution

Created in 1991, the generalised social contribution (CSG) is a tax payable by natural persons residing in France for income tax. It is a deduction-at-source tax on most incomes, and its rate varies according to the type of income and the interested party's situation.

The CSG is used to finance a part of social security expenditure on family benefits, benefits related to dependence, health insurance and non-contributing benefits in old age insurance schemes.

CRDS = Social Debt Repayment Contribution

The social debt repayment contribution (CRDS) is a tax created in 1996 to eliminate Social Security debt. Natural persons residing in France for income tax have to pay the CRDS.

The CRDS applies to a broader revenue base than the CSG. The CRDS is a deduction-at-source tax on activity income, replacement income (unemployment compensation), property income and investment income. A single rate is applied to gross income, regardless of the type of income.

Initially intended as a temporary contribution until 31 January 2014, it will continue to be collected until full repayment of the social security debt (provision established by the Law of 13 August 2004 on health insurance).

URSSAF = Social security contribution collection office

The function of the URSSAF is to collect social security contributions. These organisations belong to one of the branches of the Social Security, that of collection.

Each month or each quarter, all establishments employing salaried employees who depend on the social security general regime or a similar scheme complete a summary contributions form (BRC), which they send to the URSSAF they depend on, in order to pay their contributions.

Plafond de la sécurité sociale = Social Security ceiling wage

The Social Security ceiling wage is used to differentiate certain rates of employee and employer contributions for the parts of the gross wage below or above the ceiling wage (or a multiple thereof). It is re-evaluated each year.

Jours fériés = Public holidays

There are eleven national public holidays in France:

 1 January, New Year's Day (Nouvel an, Jour de l'An) 
 Easter Monday in March or April (Lundi de Pâques) 
 1 May, Labour Day (Fête de travail) 
 8 May, aVictory Day - End of Second World War 1945 (Fête de la liberation) 
 Ascension Thursday, the sixth Thursday after Easter, usually in May (Ascension) 
 Whit Monday (Pentecost) , the Second Monday after Ascension, in May or June (Pentecôte) 
 14 July, Bastille Day (Fête Nationale) 
 15 August, Assumption (Assomption) 
 1 November, All Saints' Day (Toussaint) 
 11 November, Armistice 1918 Day (Fête de l'Armistice) 
 25 December, Christmas Day (Noël) 

What you need to know at FMM:

  • France Médias Monde employees recuperate an off day for every bank holiday worked, even when they work in shifts. Additionaly, those working on May 1st are paid double time.
  • Alternatively, journalists scheduled to work a bank holiday during their work cycle can choose to take a day off that will not come out off their total of other days off (vacation, RTT, récups, etc.)
  • When a bank holiday lands on an official weekend (repos hebdomadaire), employees will get an additional day off called “jour flottant”. The same goes for people working in shifts, even if their weekly rest does not coincide with the actual weekend on a given week.
Congé sabbatique = Sabbatical

This is a leave which an employee may use for any activity (paid or unpaid) of his choice.

It is open to employees with three years' seniority in the company who have been employed for at least six years in total.

It may last from 6 to 11 months.

In order to benefit from this leave, an employee must submit an official request (registered letter) to HR three months ahead of time and inform them of the tentative start-date, time required and finish-date. The employer must respond within 30 days of the request. The absence of an answer is deemed to amount to his agreement.

--> Check out our sample letter section for a sabbatical leave request letter

The employer cannot refuse to grant a sabbatical, provided the employee meets all legal criteria, but is allowed to delay its start by a maximum of six months if there are too many simultaneous requests.

During the leave, the contract of employment is suspended and the employee stops receiving pay or accumulating paid holidays.

When the period of leave is over, the employee must have requested reinstatement from the employer three months in advance. This reinstatement is by full right. It takes place in the former job or an equivalent one.

If the employee resigns during the leave, thus terminating the employment contract, he does not have to observe a delay of notice.

Finally, it should be noted that a sabbatical can be followed by a "Leave for setting up a company" (Congé pour création d'entreprise), effectively allowing employees to take up to three years off (see next section).

Congé pour création d'entreprise = Leave for setting up a company

Such leave can be granted to an employee who plans to set up or take over a company which he will actually control or in which he will carry out duties of management. That being said, employees are not required to give any details or specific information to their employer when they present a leave request or when they resume work for the company...

During the leave, the contract of employment is suspended and the employee stops receiving pay or accumulating paid holidays.

The leave lasts for a period of one year, renewable once, that is maximum of 2 years.

In order to benefit from this leave, an employee must have at least 24 months' seniority in the company, though it doesn't need to be 24 consecutive months.

Employees must submit a written request (registered letter) three months in advance. The employer must respond within 30 days of the request. The absence of an answer is deemed to amount to his agreement.

When the period of leave is over, the employee must have requested reinstatement from the employer three months in advance. This reinstatement is by full right. It takes place in the former job or an equivalent one.

If the employee resigns during the leave, thus terminating the employment contract, he does not have to observe a delay of notice.

Such a leave can follow a sabbatical, effectively allowing employees to take up to three years (2 years and 11 months) off.

--> Check out our sample letter section for a leave request letter






  • Période d'essai
  • Temps partiel


  • Congé sans solde
  • RTT
  • Arrêt maladie
  • Congé maternité
  • Congé paternité

Rédigé par CFTC