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Termination and Severance Policies

Learn about the legal processes for employee termination and severance in France

Notice period

In France, both employers and employees are required to adhere to a notice period during employment termination. The duration of this period is dependent on the employee's seniority and any collective bargaining agreements that may be in place.

The French Labor Code (Code du travail), specifically Articles L. 123-1 and L. 123-8, provides the primary provisions for notice periods. Additionally, collective bargaining agreements (conventions collectives) negotiated by industry sectors or professions can also define or extend these notice periods.

Minimum Notice Periods

The French Labor Code establishes the following minimum notice periods:

  • One Month: This applies to employees who have been with the company for a minimum of six months but less than two years.
  • Two Months: This applies to employees who have been with the company for at least two years.

It's important to note that these are minimums. Collective bargaining agreements can stipulate longer notice periods for specific industries or employee categories.

Exceptions and Specificities

  • Executives: Senior executives may be subject to a longer notice period, sometimes reaching three months, as determined by their employment contract or collective agreement.
  • Dismissal for Cause: In cases of serious misconduct by the employee, immediate dismissal without a notice period may be justified under French Labor Law.
  • Mutual Agreement: If both the employer and employee agree to terminate the employment contract, they can define a shorter notice period or even immediate termination.

Notice in Writing

French law requires that termination notices must be provided in writing. This ensures a clear record of the termination date and protects the rights of both parties.

Severance pay

In France, labor law stipulates that employees who are terminated for reasons other than serious misconduct are generally entitled to severance pay.

Eligibility and Requirements

To qualify for severance pay, also known as indemnité de licenciement, employees must meet certain conditions. They must be on a Permanent Employment Contract (CDI), as those on fixed-term contracts (CDD) generally do not receive severance pay, except in specific cases outlined in collective bargaining agreements. Employees must also have at least eight months of continuous service with the employer. Lastly, the termination must be initiated by the employer and not due to the employee's resignation or serious misconduct.

Calculation of Severance Pay

Severance pay in France is calculated based on the employee's length of service and their average gross monthly salary. The length of service is divided into two periods: the first 10 years of service, where employees receive 1/4 of their monthly salary per year of service, and after 10 years of service, where employees receive 1/3 of their monthly salary per year of service. The average gross monthly salary is either the average of the past 12 months or the average of the past three months, whichever is more favorable to the employee.

The main provisions for calculating severance pay are outlined in the French Labor Code (Code du travail), specifically Articles L. 1234-9 and onwards.

Collective Bargaining Agreements

Collective bargaining agreements (conventions collectives) can provide more favorable severance pay provisions than the legal minimums.


In certain cases, severance pay may be reduced or eliminated. This includes situations where employees refuse a suitable redeployment offer within the company, or specific cases of termination for economic reasons as defined by law.

Termination process

In France, employment termination can occur in several ways. These include resignation by the employee, termination by the employer, mutual agreement between the employer and employee, and expiry of a fixed-term contract.

Termination by Employer

The employer can initiate termination based on various grounds, but clear procedures must be followed. These can be broadly categorized into personal reasons (dismissal for cause) and economic reasons. Personal reasons are related to the employee's conduct or performance such as serious misconduct, repeated negligence, incompetence. Economic reasons are due to economic difficulties, restructuring, reduction of workforce, etc.

Termination Procedure for Dismissal (Personal and Economic)

Preliminary Interview

Before initiating a dismissal (except for serious misconduct), the employer must invite the employee to a preliminary interview. The invitation must be in written form (letter or email), stating the reasons for the proposed dismissal, as well as the date, time, and location of the interview. The interview must occur at least five working days after the employee receives the summons. The employee can be assisted by an advisor during the interview.

The Interview

During the interview, the employer explains the reasons for the dismissal and hears the employee's explanations or defense.

Decision and Dismissal Letter

The employer cannot send the dismissal letter before a minimum waiting period of two working days following the interview. The dismissal must be communicated in writing via a registered letter with receipt acknowledgment. The letter must state the precise and verifiable grounds for the termination.

Additional Important Notes

Terminations based on economic grounds have additional requirements for substantiating the economic reason and may involve consultations with employee representatives. If the grounds for termination are deemed invalid or proper procedures weren't followed, the employee can challenge the dismissal in labor court and potentially seek compensation. The core provisions governing the termination process can be found in the French Labor Code (Code du travail), particularly in Articles L. 1232 and onwards. Specific regulations and procedures may also be detailed within applicable collective bargaining agreements.

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