The French working hours are usually 8 or 9 AM to 4 or 5 PM, with 1 hour of unpaid lunch break. This will, however, vary depending on the business and company agreements.
The weekly working hours are 35 (7 hours a day, five days a week). Hours worked beyond this quota are compulsory paid as overtime.
French law is very strict with limiting employee's working hours. Employees cannot work more than 10 hours a day, 44 hours a week (on average of 12 weeks), unless specified on the collective agreement.
Employees are not allowed to opt-out of the maximum working hours.
However, working time arrangements in days enable avoiding the monitoring of working time in hours – subject to complying with minimum rest periods (11 consecutive hours of daily rest, 35 consecutive hours of weekly rest).
Overtime is work done beyond the established weekly limit of 35 hours. When there is an agreement in place, overtime pay is no less than 110% of the regular wages. If there is no agreement in place, overtime pay should be 125% of the regular pay for the first eight hours and 150% thereafter.
Employers may choose to compensate employees with time off instead of remuneration for overtime (in whole or in part).
A compensatory rest is mandatory for any hours performed over the annual quota of overtime (220 hours/year subject to different quotas provided in company/branch level agreement).
In the absence of more favourable provisions provided by an agreement, the premium is set at:
- 50% of overtime hours worked over the annual quota
- 100% of the same hours if the company has more than 20 employees
Every employee is entitled to:
- Twenty minutes rest break if they work more than six hours
- At least 11 hours of rest daily
- Minimum weekly rest of 35 consecutive hours
Working on Sundays is strictly forbidden in France, except in exceptional industries where there's the need to fulfil the public's demands, such as restaurants, food manufacturing and entertainment.
Night work is performed between the hours of 9 PM and 6 AM and is authorised by a collective bargaining agreement, which provides financial consideration and/or paid leave for night work performed. Its duration is limited to 8 hours per 24-hour period and a maximum weekly average (over 12 weeks) of 40 hours.
The Loi Macron authorises goods or services retail businesses located in international tourist zones to stay open from 9 PM to 12 AM. Employees working such hours receive at least double compensation for the work performed in the evening and are provided with special transportation when leaving work.
Time Tracking Obligations
The French law distinguishes hourly to salaried (days worked per year) employees in regards to time tracking obligations. For hourly employees, there is no obligation to record the working hours of employees if they are established collectively. Employers must either record employees' start and end times or total daily hours if hours are not collectively set. The total number of hours weekly must also be recorded.
For salaried employees, employers must monitor the number and date of days or half days worked. They must also ensure working time and workload are reasonable, comply with minimum rest periods and respect the maximum working hours and work-life balance. The employer must have an annual meeting with the employee to go over these topics and summarise the number of days or half-days worked by each employee.
Companies are free to implement whichever tracking system they see fit - from clock-in and out to individual employee declarations. Companies are not required to track the hours of senior executives (Cadre dirigeant).
An employer who cannot provide written evidence of hours worked by employees will not be complying with French law on working time. Penalties for noncompliance can go up to €2,000 per employee per breach.