What are the advantages of working in France?

For many technology professionals, working abroad is usually seen as a dream. The international labor market can open horizons for improving the curriculum, in addition to the quality of life that can be provided.

In 2014, Brazil and France signed a technological cooperation agreement. The objective was to deepen the relations between the countries, which have to intensify in the commercial field and in the investments in both countries, but also in the exchange of the technological field.

The minimum wage in France is one of the highest in Europe, with whom you live and work in France with the right to a minimum wage in France per hour of EUR 9.76. France’s retirement age is also one of the best in the world, with workers qualified for a full state pension at age 62. French culture favors a balance between the professional and family life, with flexible hours prioritized and family life seen as highly important.

Those working in France benefit from a 35-hour workweek, and French expatriates and employees can take a vacation to embark on training or work in hobbies, which means that workers have above-average leisure time every day. Achieving a good balance between personal and professional life is one of the best reasons to work in France.

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Work hours

In terms of workweek, the legal working time for employees in France is 35 hours a week. In practice, however, employees tend to work longer. However, additional hours are compensated by assigning a number of days off known as RTT days (Réduction du Temps de Travail). In addition, someone at the manager level is generally entitled to 25 days off per year. This allocation may increase with the organization’s longevity. The French also celebrate about 10 public holidays a year – three of them being in May only. So, if you are wondering why Paris closes in August, now you know: many people take the entire month off. Depending on the size of the company you work for, you may also be entitled to paid maternity and paternity leave and some marriages and funerals.

Lunch time

Mealtimes are sacred in France. French culture, therefore, is to stop working for lunch. Lunch is also usually followed by coffee, so employees can take between 45 minutes and an hour and a half to eat. The employer is obliged to provide a self-service kitchen, an on-site cafeteria or subsidized restaurant vouchers (restaurant tickets). When an on-site cafeteria is not available, companies over a certain size are required by law to provide tickets to restaurants that can be spent at participating restaurants (almost all). The cost is split 50/50 between the company and the employee. This law explains how the average French worker can afford to eat out in quality restaurants several times a week.

Subsidized benefits

If you use public transport to and from work, your employer must pay up to 50% of your monthly public transport pass. The law applies to all workers who have a monthly bus, metro, train, RER or tram pass. Repayment is usually done automatically through your salary.

A percentage of your health care is covered by Social Security. You will receive a carte vitale to use at the doctor, specialists and when buying medicines. Few years ago, it became mandatory for companies to cover the costs of a mutuelle (a kind of supplementary insurance policy) that covers medical expenses not covered by the government. What it covers and how much of the cost is covered depends on each company.

Workers’ Committee

Larger companies generally have a CE (Committee d’Entreprise). If an employer has more than 50 employees, elections must be held to elect employees to the board. The board offers many benefits and services. As the CE of each company follows its own policy, they vary, but may include subsidized tickets for cinema, theater, musicals, rock concerts, museums and sporting events; subsidized gym membership; subsidized holidays abroad and partial reimbursement for personal holidays.

Is speaking French needed?

The French usually look favorably on those who are dedicated to learning the local language. Therefore, even if your job does not require French in practice, you will need to have a basic level, at least, to integrate the best country and the company. It is worthwhile if you want to live in France and increase your career possibilities.

There is also the possibility for an employer to offer a basic course for those who are hiring. It all depends on the place of work, the type of vacancy, what was agreed in the contract.

Corporative culture

Benefits aside, if you are considering moving to France, there are some important cultural differences that you should be aware of.

Protection

If you have a permanent contract (contract durée indeterminé or CDI) instead of a fixed-term contract (contract durée determiné or CDD), it is extremely difficult to get fired unless you break the law. If, for some reason, things are not working for you (for example, you cannot get along with your boss or your job changes due to the transformation of the company that is very common today, with many changes being driven new technologies), you can discuss with your company board. They can work on your behalf with the company to see if another job can be found for you.

If, after a certain period of time, this does not happen, they will “negotiate” your departure, that is, they will guarantee an indemnity dependent on factors such as your longevity in the company, your grade and age. In that case, you would also be entitled to unemployment insurance (le chomage), which can reach 50 to 60% of your salary (including the bonus) for two years. The exact number depends on your personal situation and work history.

Flexible working

More and more companies are offering flexible work, that is, the opportunity to work from home (télétravail) one or more days a week. As the practice matures, companies are offering training on how to maintain team spirit in a “remote” environment, not feeling guilty about stopping for coffee or lunch and best practices for remote meetings. 

Future of work

The most progressive companies are following the example of GAFAs (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) and are moving towards a “New World of Work” and new buildings that favor innovation, collaboration, mobility and well-being of the employee. For example, instead of having a fixed table, employees take up space depending on the task they are doing, such as one that requires quiet concentration, a team meeting, a brainstorming session or a personal phone call, and store your personal belongings in lockers. The buildings themselves offer spaces that combine work areas with areas that resemble kitchens, libraries and living rooms.

Developing your career in France can be a great option for you and your family. Naturally, the command of the French language will be well regarded, but in reality, the employees of the large multinationals speak mainly English. So the real need is more for you to manage administration around things like health and tax returns. If, on the other hand, you speak business-grade French, depending on your area of ​​expertise, you may find yourself in high demand and in a great position to negotiate your way to life in France.