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Is It Illegal to Work on Weekends in France? A Guide to the French Working Hours

Any change in location will impact all areas of your life, including work. If you’re planning on moving to France, you’ll probably be thinking about what it’ll be like to work there and what hours you’ll be expected to do. Thanks to various mandates that the French government have put in place, employees and the work-life balance are fairly well protected. We’ve put together a guide to the French working hours that will answer all of your questions such as “is it illegal to work on weekends in France?”

French working hours

The standard working hours in France tend to be 8 or 9 AM to 4 or 5 PM, depending on the agreements that are in place within the company. Workers are also usually entitled to a 1-hour unpaid lunch break during the work day. This 7-hour day, 5 days a week, equates to 35 hours per week. It is compulsory that workers in France are paid overtime for any additional hours or that they receive the hours back in additional time off.

There is also a maximum legal limit on working hours, which means that anyone working in France is unable to work more than 10 hours in a single day (unless a collective bargaining agreement is in place). All workers are entitled to a rest period of 35 consecutive hours.

As with all working hour requirements, you should have a thorough read through your employment contract to understand what is expected of you before committing to a role.

Workers on Avenue Pierre Mendès-France in Paris

Is it illegal to work on weekends in France?

Although it is not illegal to work on weekends in France, it is forbidden for most workers, depending on their industry, to work on Sundays. The industries that are exempt from this rule are those that need to meet public demands, such as restaurants and entertainment.

The ‘right to disconnect’ is part of the Labor Law which was passed by the French government in 2016. It means that employers are legally unable to expect a response to work-related communications outside of the standard working hours, such as at the weekend. This applies to all businesses with over 50 employees. Other countries that have since implemented this mandate include Spain and Ireland.

Night work in France

Working nights in France is defined as any work that is undertaken between 9 PM and 6 AM. In principle, night workers should not exceed 40 working hours per week.

Man walking through the streets of Paris at night

Annual leave entitlements in France 

The minimum annual leave entitlement for workers in France is 5 weeks per year. There are also 11 national public holidays to be aware of, although only 1 of these, International Workers Day, is a mandatory holiday for everyone. Workers that are required to work on this day are typically entitled to double pay.

French time tracking obligations 

To monitor employees’ working hours, companies in France are obligated to track the working hours of salaried workers, as well as hourly workers whose hours are not collectively set. This can be as simple as employees declaring their hours, or as complex as using a clocking in/out system.

If you’re looking for international removals services to France, Gerson Relocation can help. Get in touch to speak to our relocation specialists.

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