Remote working, office parties – These are the new health rules in French workplaces

The new health protocol came into effect in French workplaces on Wednesday, September 1st, and includes changes to remote working guidelines.

Remote working, office parties - These are the new health rules in French workplaces
A co-working office in the business district of La Defense (Paris) in October 2020. Photo: Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP.

France’s Labour Ministry published its updated protocol for workers on Tuesday, as many people in France headed back to the office following the summer holidays. Here is what you need to know.

Working from home

From September 1st, the French labour ministry is no longer officially advising people to have a minimum number of days of télétravail (home-working).

Previously the government had recommended that employees split their time between home and office work if possible, with a minimum of two days per week working remotely – although this was always a recommendation and not a rule. This guidance has now ended, and it is between employees and their employers to decide on télétravail days. 

In the public sector, workers are entitled to work from home a maximum of three days per week, thanks to a separate agreement. From September, public servants will also be entitled to a work-from-home allowance of up to €220 per year.

Social distancing measures

While many people will be returning to the office full-time, all is not back to normal, since companies are still required to follow health guidelines. It is still necessary to wear a mask in “closed collective spaces” such as open-plan offices, to respect a distance of one metre between people, and to ensure proper ventilation. Windows and doors should be open “ideally all the time if conditions allow, and at least 5 minutes every hour”.

With the goal of limiting large gatherings, virtual meetings “should still be prioritised”. In conference rooms and other closed spaces, it will be up to employers to set a limit on numbers if they want to – a minimum of 4 square metres per person is suggested, but not compulsory.

The return of leaving drinks?

A veritable institution in French workplaces, the pots (parties) will have been sorely missed during the pandemic, but under the new rules they could make a return, albeit in a modified form.

The new protocol allows for “moments of conviviality” between colleagues, as long as safety precautions such as masks and proper ventilation are respected. It is therefore “strongly recommended that these moments of conviviality are held outdoors.”


Although it is strongly encouraged, the Covid vaccine remains voluntary for most French workers. As the August 5th law, which also extended the health pass, states, workers are entitled to attend an appointment to get vaccinated during work time. They may also accompany a minor in their care who is receiving an injection, without losing pay.

READ ALSO Can my French boss force me to get the Covid vaccine?

For healthcare workers it’s a different story, although they are covered by a transition period. Until September 14th, they can go to work with a negative test from within the previous 72 hours, but from September 15th to October 15th, they will need to have had at least one vaccine dose. From October 16th, healthcare workers must be fully vaccinated in order to continue working.

Other employees will only need a health pass if they work in venues where visitors are asked to show the pass. It is not required in order to eat at the office canteen.

What if you need to self-isolate?

“Any person showing symptoms or considered a contact case must be invited by their employer not to come to work,” the new protocol states. If you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to self-isolate, but you should still take a test. You can find the full guidelines around self-isolation HERE.

If you are displaying symptoms of Covid-19 and need to self-isolate, but are not able to work from home, you are invited to make a declaration on the website in order to receive compensation.

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How to get a summer job in France

As the summer holidays approach in France, many employers are looking for seasonal workers - so if you're looking for a summer job, here's how to go about it.

How to get a summer job in France

There are thousands of employment offers in France – a simple internet search for jobs d’été came up with numerous jobs boards offering work in France, while the government-backed Centre d’Information et de Documentation pour la Jeunesse (CIDJ) offers advice and information on all aspects of life for young people in France, including finding seasonal work and summer placements.

Sectors including agriculture, hospitality and tourism are always recruiting in the summer, seeking fruit-pickers, holiday camp workers and serving/hotel staff.

But what are the rules for people seeking summer jobs?

READ ALSO Vendange: What you really sign up for when you agree to help with the French wine harvest


Children from the age of 16 (under certain circumstances, the age limit drops to 14) who are legally resident in France can work as long as they have written authorisation from their parents or legal guardians. A model authorisation letter is available here

Those under the age of 18 cannot undertake certain jobs for health and safety reasons.

In the following circumstances, children as young as 14 or 15 can work during school holidays.

  • The holidays must last at least 14 days;
  • The child must work no more than half the days of the holiday – so, if a vacation period is two weeks, they can work for no more than one of those weeks;
  • The child is given ‘light duties’ that offer no risk to their safety, health, or development;
  • From the age of 15 and if the child has completed their troisieme education, a minor can register for an apprenticeship. 


Salary is usually paid monthly and will have a payslip. For those aged 18 and over, pay will be at least equal to the minimum wage.

 For those aged 14 to 17, who have less than six months’ professional experience, the minimum allowed rate is 80 percent of the minimum wage. For those aged 17 to 18, the rate rises to a minimum of 90 percent of France’s minimum wage.

  • The minimum wage in France is currently €10.85 gross per hour (€1,645.58 gross per month based on a 35-hour week);
  • the employment contract is fixed-term and can take different forms (fixed-term contract, seasonal employment contract, temporary employment contract, etc);
  • Seasonal employees are subject to the same obligations as the other employees of the company and have access to the same benefits (canteens, breaks, etc.).

Under 18s have certain additional protections:

  • between the ages of 14 and 16, during school holidays, employees on any contract cannot work more than 35 hours per week nor more than 7 hours per day;
  • They cannot work at night;
  • Those aged 14 to under 16 working during their school holidays can only be assigned to work which is not likely to harm their safety, their health or development.

Right to work in France

If you’re a French citizen or hold permanent residency in France then you have the right to work, but for foreigners there are extra restrictions.

Anyone who holds the passport of a EU/EEA country or Switzerland, is free to work in France or to travel to France seeking work without needing a visa or work permit.

Most other people will need permission to work in France – even if it’s only for a short period or for casual work such as grape-picking. Depending on your country of origin you may need a visa – everything you need to know about that is here.

In addition to the visa, you may also need a work permit, which is the responsibility of the employer.  To employ anyone in France for less than 90 days, an employer must get a temporary work permit – before the prospective employee applies for a short stay visa. This permit is then sent to the embassy at which the employee is applying for a visa.

If you come from countries including the UK, USA and Canada you can spend up to 90 days in France without a visa – but you may still need a work (convention d’accueil) if you want to work while you are here.

READ ALSO Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in France

Certain countries have specific ‘seasonal worker’ visas on offer, for certain sectors which allows – for example – Canadians to come to France and work the ski season. 

Cash-in-hand jobs

Certain sectors which have a lot of casual workers – for example seasonal fruit-picking – do have cash-in-hand jobs, known in France as marché noir (black market) or simply travail au black (working on the black, or working illegally). 

This is of course illegal and working this way carries risks – as well as the possibility of losing your job if labour inspectors turn up you are also in a vulnerable position. If your employer suddenly decides not to pay you, or make unexpected deductions from your wages, there is very little you can do about it since you won’t have any kind of work contract.