French Employment: Explaining Conventions Collectives

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Conventions collectives are written agreements, which are entered into between at least one employee representative trade union and at least one employer representative. 

These agreements govern the individual and collective employment relationships, working conditions, social guarantees, and benefits applicable in a given industry (such as chemical or banking), to the employees who fall within their scope. 

Generally, every company will be covered by a convention collective, determined according to its main business activity.

Conventions collectives adapt the rules of the French Labour Code to the specificities of a trade or profession.

Because of this, they do not all feature exactly the same content.  Indeed, there are around 500 conventions collectives in France, each one with a clearly-defined professional and territorial scope of application (national, regional, or departmental).

However, the majority of French employees – around 75% – are covered by the 70 main conventions collectives. 

The convention collective also supplements the law in areas where there is no provision under the French Labour Code.

Examples may include additional bonuses or leave, or the specific organisation of employees’ working conditions.

In some cases, the provisions of the convention collective may be more favourable than those set out in the French Labour Code.  This could include working time that is less than the legal 35-hour week, or higher severance pay than the mandatory compensation.

Conventions collectives can also secure particular benefits that employees may not have been able to obtain, had they been negotiating alone.

Employers must inform their employees about the applicable convention collective.

When an employee is hired, they must receive an information notice that describes the agreement terms applicable in the company.

Every year, the employer must provide employee representatives with a list of any changes made to the convention collective.  If there are no employee representatives, such changes must be communicated to employees directly.

Can we answer your questions about conventions collectives in France?

Our knowledgeable team of bilingual HR consultants are ready to offer advice and insights that ensure your company is both knowledgeable and compliant.

Please contact us to arrange a free initial consultation.

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