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France – Including minimum working time is not enough to meet the legal requirements for a part-time contract

Written by
Capstan Avocats, the law firm setting the benchmark for labour law in France.
A recent judgement has confirmed that merely providing minimum working hours will not satisfy the requirements for a part-time employment contract set out in the French Labour Code.  

The rule in Article L. 3123-6 of the Labour Code is well known: a part-time employment contract (or any amendment to a part-time employment) must include the following information, under penalty of sanctions:

  • the employee’s status as an employee;
  • the elements of the employee’s remuneration;
  • weekly or monthly working time and, unless working time is annualised (and with the exception of the home help sector), the distribution of this working time across days of the week or weeks of the month;
  • the situations in which this distribution of working time across the week or month can be modified, as well as the nature of any modification;
  • the terms and conditions under which working hours for each day worked will be communicated in writing to the employee;
  • the limits within which the employee can work overtime.


From a criminal law perspective, failure to comply with this obligation will be a ‘fifth-class’ contravention sanctioned by a fine of up to EUR 1,500 for each employee concerned, increased to EUR 3,000 for a repeat offence (Labour Code, article R. 3124-5).

In civil law, not setting out the duration of work or its distribution across the week or month creates a presumption of a full-time employment contract. The employer can, however, rebut a simple presumption (Cass. soc., 20 December 2017, n° 16-23.511).

In a judgment of 3 July 2019 (No. 17-15.884), the Court of Cassation confirmed that, whatever the method of working (in this case, an employee hairdresser working from home freely set her appointments and determined her own working hours according to her availability), setting out working hours is mandatory.

In this case, the employee’s working time depended solely on her own initiative and the contract referred only to a guaranteed minimum monthly duration of four hours’ work. The Court of Cassation considered this did not meet the requirements of Article L. 3123-6 of the Labour Code, and there should therefore be a presumption that the contract had been concluded on a full-time basis.

In principle, part-time employees benefit from a minimum weekly working time. This is fixed by agreement or CBA. Failing this, it the minimum working time will be 24 hours per week (or the equivalent per month), or the equivalent duration if working time is distributed over a period longer than the week (up to a maximum of a year).

Before the Court of Appeal, the employer will have to try to demonstrate that the employment relationship was not a full-time one, by providing evidence of the agreed working time and of the employee’s freedom to plan the pace of her work in order not to have to be permanently at the employer’s disposal (Cass. soc., 9 January 2013, n° 11-16.433). Otherwise, the presumption of a full-time contract will apply, with all that implies.

So be careful when drafting a part-time employment contract!