Attention! Beware French employment law

"As the employer you will need to be careful of the mandatory provisions in the French Code du Travail and the Convention Collective with regard to employees, particularly in terms of pay, working time and working conditions," advises Emmanuelle Ries, partner and head of employment at Miller Rosenfalck. "The mandatory provisions of French employment law will apply to protect the employees because they are physically based in France. They would be able to claim at a French employment tribunal against you if you fail to follow French employment law applying to secondments – called a détachement in French."

Ries says the six main points to watch out for are: 1. Compulsory ‘pre-declaration’ to the Direction Départementale du TravailBefore your employees start work in France, you must send a pre-secondment declaration ( to the direction départementale du travail (local work directorate) of the place where your workers will be posted. This is a form to be completed in French and must be sent by recorded delivery, fax or email. You may be able to ask your French car manufacturer customer to help you complete the form or seek professional advice in the UK or France. Failing to send the "pre-declaration" form risks a fine of €135.

2. Non EEA nationalsThe "pre-declaration" will ask you to list the names and nationalities of employees to be seconded. Typically, third country nationals (from outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland) regularly employed by a company based in the EU, EEA or Switzerland may be posted to France without having to obtain a work authorisation, if they have the necessary paperwork to live and work in the UK. You may need to show a copy of these papers to the French immigration authorities.

3. Collective agreements and conventions Your employees working in France will be able to claim that the provisions of the relevant convention collective applying to French workers in their industry, also apply to them. You should therefore seek advice before they depart on the terms of the applicable convention collective in your industry in France.

4. Working time and holidaysIn France, the maximum legal working time is ten hours a day and 48 hours in the same week. French regulations on annual paid holidays (assessed on the basis of the stay in France), leave for family occasions, maternity leave and paternity leave will apply to seconded employees. Fortunately for you, the regulations of the Code du Travail on unpaid leave and on the compte épargne temps (time savings account) do not apply to seconded employees.

5. Minimum wageSince 1 July 2009, the minimum wage in France is €8.82 gross per hour (which amounts to a monthly gross minimum wage of €1,337.70 for a 35-hour working week). Employees on secondment must be paid at least the minimum wage. Allowances specific to secondment (expatriation benefit for example) are part of the minimum wage. However, benefits covering excess costs incurred during the secondment (travel or accommodation expenses, for example) are not considered in the calculation of the minimum wage and must be reimbursed by employers.6. PayrollAs the secondment exceeds one month, posted employees must be paid a monthly salary and receive a payslip (or any equivalent document), translated into French and indicating the following information:•    salary due in Euros (including overtime)•    working hours and periods•    leave and public holidays•    conditions of liability to weather risk and paid leave funds and•    name of the applicable collective convention.

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