French labour law

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French labour law is the system of labour law operating in France.


During the French Revolution, the Le Chapelier Law 1791 was passed to prohibit unions or guilds and strikes in particular, with a proclamation of "free enterprise". On 25 May 1864, the loi Ollivier was passed to reverse the prohibitions on strike action.

The prohibitions on forming trade unions were lifted by Waldeck Rousseau's laws passed on 21 March 1884.

Between 1936 and 1938 the Popular Front enacted a law mandating 12 days (2 weeks) each year of paid vacation for workers, and the Matignon Accords (1936). This established the right to organise a union, to bargain collectively, a legal right to strike, and was followed by enactments which limited the work week to 40 hours, excluding overtime, and guaranteed paid holidays.

The Grenelle agreements negotiated on May 25 and 26th in the middle of the May 1968 crisis, reduced the working week to 44 hours and created trade union sections in each enterprise.[1] The minimum wage was also increased by 25%.[2]

In 2000 Lionel Jospin's government then enacted the 35-hour workweek, down from 39 hours. Five years later, conservative prime minister Dominique de Villepin enacted the New Employment Contract (CNE). Addressing the demands of employers asking for more flexibility in French labour laws, the CNE sparked criticism from trade unions and opponents claiming it was lending favour to contingent work. In 2006 he then attempted to pass the First Employment Contract (CPE) through a vote by emergency procedure, but that it was met by students and unions' protests. President Jacques Chirac finally had no choice but to repeal it.[3]

The "right to disconnect" law came into force in January 2017, which means that companies with more than 50 workers will be obliged to draw up a charter of good conduct. This charter sets out the hours in which staff are not supposed to send or answer emails. [4]

Code du travail[edit]

Individual rights[edit]

Trade unions[edit]



Unemployment protection[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ fr:section syndicale d'entreprise December 27, 1968 law
  2. ^ fr:SMIG
  3. ^ Alain-Christian Monkam, "French Employment Law", Village de la Justice, 2011,,10968.html
  4. ^ "French workers get 'right to disconnect' from emails out of hours". Retrieved 3 January 2017.