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French Law: Hiring Employees in France

1. An employee resident in France, of whatever nationality, should generally have a written contract of employment.

2. Even in the event that there were no written agreement, the employee will nevertheless be able to take advantage of the fullest protection of French employment law; whereas the employer may well find that such a situation is considerably to his or her detriment.

3. The employment agreement in question must be drafted in French, but there is no restriction on a translation thereof being made available (although the French version will generally systematically prevail).

4. Virtually all contracts of employment in France are for an open term (contrats dure indtermine or CDI in French) and this corresponds to the default legal position in France.

5. Specific short term or temporary agreements (contrats dure determine or CDD in French) are only available to employers as an exception and are subject to stringent and strictly limited conditions and may not be renewed more than once.

6. A major legal distinction exists between "Cadres" (Executive or management level employees) and "Employs" (grades of employees other than management).

7. This distinction is perceived to be not only of legal but also of great social importance in France and it is mentioned that in this context the translation of the English word employees is "salaris" and not "employs".

8. French Employment Law statutory provisions are set out in the Code du Travail being a single collection, revised and published annually, of codified statute and the full Code is not generally available in English.

9. Collective bargaining agreements (conventions collectives in French) are widespread. They may be national or regional or even local and encompass virtually all specific industrial or commercial sectors and are very often binding upon employers who were not a party thereto.

10. The provisions of Collective Bargaining Agreements or In-House Company regulations (rglements intrieurs) which are in conflict with Statute Law will nevertheless usually prevail if they are in favour of the employee.