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French Polynesia

Employment Agreement Essentials

Understand the key elements of employment contracts in French Polynesia

Types of employment agreements

In French Polynesia, employment law outlines several types of employment contracts. These different agreements are crucial for both employers and employees to understand.

Open-ended Contract (Contrat à durée indéterminée - CDI)

A CDI is a permanent, full-time employment contract, offering the most job security. It has no predetermined end date and continues indefinitely unless terminated by either party with proper notice as stipulated in the French Polynesian Labour Code (Code du travail de la Polynésie française).

Fixed-term Contract (Contrat à durée déterminée - CDD)

A CDD is a temporary employment contract with a specific end date. These contracts are commonly used for seasonal work, project-based positions, or replacing absent employees. The maximum duration of a CDD can vary depending on the reason for the contract, but it cannot exceed 36 months, including renewals.

Unlike CDIs, CDDs must be formalized in writing. This written document should detail the specific reasons for the fixed-term nature of the employment, the start and end date, and the possibility of renewal.

Partial Time Contract (Contrat de travail Ă  temps partiel)

A partial-time contract allows employees to work a reduced number of hours compared to a full-time CDI or CDD. The specific working hours per week or month should be clearly defined in the written contract. Employees on partial-time contracts generally enjoy the same benefits as full-time employees on a pro-rated basis.

Similar to CDDs, partial-time work contracts must also be established in writing.

Other Employment Agreements

French Polynesia also recognizes other less common employment agreements:

  • Apprenticeship Contract (Contrat d'apprentissage): Provides vocational training alongside work experience for young people.
  • Intermittent Work Contract (Contrat de travail intermittent): Intended for short, occasional work assignments that don't follow a regular schedule.
  • Temporary Work Agency Contract (Contrat de travail intĂ©rimaire): Involves employment through a temporary work agency that assigns workers to client companies for specific needs.

Essential clauses

Employment agreements in French Polynesia are governed by the French Polynesian Labour Code. These agreements are designed to protect both employers and employees by outlining expectations and obligations.

Mandatory Clauses

The French Polynesian Labour Code mandates the inclusion of specific clauses in employment agreements:

  • Identification of Parties: This includes the names and contact details of the employer and employee.
  • Type of Contract: The contract should clearly state whether it's a CDI, CDD, partial-time, or another authorized type.
  • Start Date and (if applicable) End Date: This defines the beginning and, for CDDs, the designated conclusion of the employment.
  • Job Title and Description: The contract should include a clear description of the employee's function and responsibilities.
  • Work Location: The primary place of work should be stated, with any possibility of remote work mentioned.
  • Normal Working Hours: The contract should specify precise weekly or monthly working hours, including breaks.
  • Compensation and Benefits: Details regarding gross salary, overtime pay rules, and any benefits offered (health insurance, vacation days, etc.) should be included.
  • Termination Clause: The contract should outline the notice period required for termination by either party, following legal guidelines.

While not mandatory, including these clauses in an employment agreement fosters clarity and prevents potential disputes:

  • Probationary Period: If applicable, the length and terms of the probationary period should be defined.
  • Confidentiality: This clause protects sensitive company information and intellectual property.
  • Non-Solicitation: This clause can restrict soliciting clients or employees after leaving the company (with legal limitations).
  • Intellectual Property Ownership: This clause clarifies ownership rights over any inventions or creations made during employment.
  • Disciplinary Procedures: This clause outlines the process for addressing employee misconduct.
  • Dispute Resolution: This clause establishes a mechanism for resolving disagreements arising from the employment relationship.

Probationary period

The probationary period, or période d'essai, is a standard feature in French Polynesian employment contracts. It provides a window for both employers and employees to evaluate suitability before committing to a permanent position.

Probationary Period Objectives

The probationary period serves multiple functions:

  • Evaluation: It provides employers with the opportunity to assess an employee's skills, performance, and compatibility with the company culture.
  • Employee Assessment: Employees can determine if the job meets their expectations and matches their skillset.
  • Simplified Termination: During this period, termination can occur with a shorter notice period compared to a confirmed permanent position.

The French Polynesian Labour Code establishes the framework for probationary periods.

Probationary Period Duration

The maximum duration of the probationary period is legally defined and varies based on the employee's role:

  • 1 month: For workers and employees.
  • 2 months: For supervisors, technicians, and similar roles.
  • 3 months: For managers and similar positions.

The Labour Code does not permit a probationary period for a permanent position following a fixed-term contract for the same role with the same employee.

Termination During Probationary Period

During the probationary period, either the employer or the employee can terminate the contract with a shorter notice period than after confirmation. The specific notice period may be outlined in the employment contract but cannot be less than:

  • 7 days for the first week of the probationary period.
  • 14 days after the first week.

These notice periods are stipulated in the French Polynesian Labour Code.

Probationary Period Extension

The total duration of the probationary period cannot exceed the legal limits mentioned above. However, there are exceptions:

  • Contract Suspension: If the employment contract is suspended during the probationary period (due to illness, company closure, or annual leave), the period can be extended by the same duration of the suspension.

It's essential to ensure all extensions comply with legal guidelines.

Confidentiality and non compete clauses

Confidentiality and non-compete clauses are often included in employment agreements in French Polynesia, although they are not mandatory. These clauses, while beneficial, are subject to certain legal restrictions to safeguard the rights of employees.

Confidentiality Clause

A confidentiality clause prevents employees from revealing confidential company information to unauthorized third parties, thereby safeguarding sensitive data, trade secrets, and intellectual property.

The French Polynesian law acknowledges the principle of "professional secrecy" (secret professionnel), which requires employees to maintain confidentiality of all information they obtain during their employment related to the company's business, inventions, or clientele.

Confidentiality clauses in employment agreements can bolster this legal obligation and delineate the scope of confidential information. However, these clauses cannot prohibit the dissemination of information that is already publicly known or that the employee rightfully obtained elsewhere.

Non-Compete Clause

A non-compete clause is designed to restrict an employee's capacity to work for a competitor or establish a competing business after leaving the company.

French Polynesian law strictly controls non-compete clauses to ensure they do not unduly limit employee mobility and re-employment opportunities. These clauses are generally:

  • Geographically Limited: The restricted area cannot be overly extensive and should be pertinent to the employee's role and the company's operations.
  • Time-Bound: The non-compete period cannot be excessively lengthy. The legal validity of the duration depends on the employee's position and the level of protected confidential information.

Article L. 1225-1 of the French Labour Code (Code du travail français), applicable in French Polynesia, outlines the limitations on non-compete clauses.

It's important to note that non-compete clauses are typically only enforceable for executives, managers, or employees with access to highly sensitive information.

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