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Why you really should read your French 'convention collective'

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
Why you really should read your French 'convention collective'
People work in an office space in Paris (Photo by ERIC FEFERBERG / AFP)

It's a very long document written in densely-worded legal French - but if you can bring yourself to read it, you might benefit from extra days off work, financial bonuses and perks for healthcare.


If you're employed in France you already benefit from statutory rules that give you paid holiday, employment protections as well as extra days off if you're doing things like moving house, getting married or having a baby. You can find the full list of statutory perks and benefits here.

But the vast majority of workers are also covered by a convention collective - a sector-wide agreement that offers little extras - whether that is days off or financial benefits - on top of the legal minimum.

The convention collective is a collective bargaining agreement which was negotiated on behalf of workers (by unions, employee organisations or associations) with the French government, and it is legally binding.

It's different to schemes that companies offer their staff as perks or inducements for new recruits such as money to buy and maintain a bike.

Where can I find my convention collective?

If you have a look at your payslip, at the top just underneath your personal details you should find listed convention collective followed by the name of the convention that you are covered by. It's usually listed as the name of the sector you work in eg journalistes if you work in the media. You can then search for the text itself on the Legifrance website.

If your convention isn't listed, you can use the government's 'find my convention collective' search option. 

The convention covers workers on a permanent (CDI) or temporary (CDD) contract, and applies even if you are still in a trial period.

The convention collective may differ from your work contract, perhaps regarding procedures prior to quitting your job.

In this case, French Labour law states that the option that is "most favourable to the employee takes precedence".

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What's in it? 

There are dozens of different conventions, so what's in your depends on the sector you work in.

It might inform you of unknown benefits or useful information as to how your sector differs from standard French labour laws.

Be warned, these are long, complicated documents written in formal, legal French. But they're worth the effort to read.

Here are some of the most common perks that they contain;

Extra days off - Your collective agreement might give you more than the standard 25 days of paid leave per year, and it may also allow you to take extra unpaid days off.

There might also be extra days off for special events such as getting married or pacsé, while parents might be entitled to extra parental leave. For example, the convention covering pharmacists allows for five days of leave if you're getting married, rather than the statutory four.


Pharmacists might also be expected to work on public holidays (jours fériés). In this case, the collective agreement has a provision entitling them to a pay increase of 100 percent for on May 1st (Labour Day) and a 25 percent increase on other public holidays.

READ MORE: Reader question: How many public holidays does France have?

If your sector is covered by the 35-hour week rule, some conventions allow for RTT (réduction du temps de travail) days. This is a system to compensate people for working over-time. 

Some companies' conventions will allow workers to take RTT days whenever they want - so just like extra holidays, whilst other companies enforce workers to take specific RTT days such as the day after Christmas or Good Friday, which are not public holidays in (most of) France.

Some agreements also allow workers to 'make up' public holidays that fall on a weekend - normally if a public holiday falls on a Saturday or a Sunday workers just have to resign themselves to having no extra day off. But some conventions allow workers to take the Friday or Monday closest to the public holiday as an extra (paid) day off.

Bonuses and rewards - When reading through the convention collective, you can also learn which types of bonuses are applied in your sector. These might include a prime de vacances (vacation bonus), the prime d'ancienneté (long-serving or seniority bonuses) or a prime de naissance (bonus for new parents).


The qualifications and calculations for these bonuses would be outlined in the convention, and are usually based on your salary. For example, people working in the real estate (immobilier) sector can be eligible for a 'médaille d'honneur du travail' (medal of honour for work) after 20, 30, 35, and 40 years of service respectively. This entitles the worker to a bonus of one month's salary.

Health and family benefits - You will also be able to learn whether your collective agreement imposes any rules regarding a mutuelle.

All businesses are required to pay at least half of the cost of the 'top-up' health insurance known as a mutuelle, but some pay the full cost. Some conventions also offer a mutuelle that also covers family members of the employee.

Training and education - If you want to go in for any extra training or education, the convention might specify what would be paid for, as well as which types of training continue to count toward years of seniority in the company.


Some sectors - like banking - even encourage further training with bonuses (primes).

Rules for hiring and firing - The collective agreement will also lay out the rules for how the how long the trial period can last, as well as the procedures needed to quit your job (ie how much notice to give).

If you are made redundant or sacked from your position, the convention will also list the rules for how the company should go about this, as well as the payout you would be entitled to.


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