Want to work in Paris?

Brexit is very sadly catching up with us! If you are thinking of moving to Paris for work, you will hopefully find this article full of practical information!

The Eurostar has facilitated crossing the Channel with 10million+ passengers in 2017 and Eurotunnel transporting 2.6 million cars in the same period.  Although only a short distance away, not everything happily is the same! Below are a some pointers if you are considering moving to work.

Salaries in France are often paid over 13 months. When you negotiate your salary, discuss your annual salary taking into account that each month you will get a 13th part, not a 12th. The 13th month is often paid half in June and the rest in January.

Taxes are deducted from source in the UK. In France this is currently not the case and you should fill in your tax declaration in May (or June if you do it on the net). This will change from 01 January 2019 when in France taxes will be deducted at source as in the UK.

In France salary slips are long! Since January 2017 a new law stipulates that employers can send electronic pay slips. It won’t change the number of lines, but there will be less paper!

Public transport in France is much cheaper than in the UK. In the UK it is considered an advantage to have a travel loan to buy your annual season ticket, an option less expensive than monthly tickets. But in France 50% of your transport (carte Navigo in Paris) is reimbursed by your employer. It is a legal obligation. If you live in zone 5 (Ile-de-France) you will pay 803€ per year (2017) of which 50% is reimbursed. The same from Croydon (zone 5) to the centre of London will cost you £2248 (2574€ @ 12/01/17).

Without a permanent contract (cdi), finding accommodation in Paris can be a headache! Happily, there are sites like AirBnB which can help you find temporary accommodation whilst you are stabilising your situation. In Paris, guarantees are very often required (normally from third parties). The idea being that if you do not pay your rent, your third party will pay it for you.

Since January 2018 the minimum wage in France is 9.88€ per hour or 1,4998€ per month. In the UK the minimum wage for someone aged 25 years or over (April 2018) is £7.83 per hour.

There are 30 days holiday in France. https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F2258 For nearly all workers in the UK 28 days statutory leave per year (although employers can include bank holidays in this figure). https://www.gov.uk/holiday-entitlement-rights

In France the 35-hour week means that if you have a contract stipulating more hours per week you get extra days off to recuperate (“RTT”) https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F34151. It depends on what has been negotiated by your company, but in general you can add 10 or so days to your holidays.

There are 11 bank holidays https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F2405 in France per year (certain dates vary according to the region). If they fall on a weekend, you will not recuperate them. Very often if they fall on a Thursday, employees will faire le pont (translation, make a bridge) so they have a long weekend. There are 9 bank holidays in UK (again with some different dates according to whether you are in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland). The common bank holiday dates between France and the UK are the 1st January, Easter Monday, 1st May and the 25 December.

Don’t expect lots of professional activity between the 14 July and the beginning September (when children return to school). Generally holidays are taken either in July or August and children’s summer break is 2 months (July and August). Many companies close between the 1st and the 15th August. There is also less activity during the Christmas and Easter periods.

Whilst more and more Parisians eat a sandwich at their desk, lunch hour still has its importance. You have perhaps been lucky enough in London to work for a company with a canteen or offering luncheon vouchers but it’s rare! In France, most companies offer luncheon vouchers and generally 60% of their face value is paid for by the company, you pay the rest. They can have a value up to 19€. This encourages the wonderful French tradition of lunch in bistros and restaurants close to offices.

Lots of employees in London have a drink after work with their colleagues. In Paris, this is much rarer. If you are very social, you may find this aspect of office life difficult, but think of all those mouth-watering lunches!

Since January 2016 employers are obliged to offer health insurance (mutuelle) to their personnel. when you leave a company if you want to keep the same mutuelle you can do (portabilité mutuelle) https://www.service-public.fr/professionnels-entreprises/vosdroits/F33754

In France, there are two types of workers (in fact there are 4 types but we will speak of the situation of the majority), employers et cadres. Cadre status is normally reserved for managers upwards. Below, there are some general differences:

> Employees
– Trial period: 2 months renewable once
– Notice period: Often one month (it increases with the length of service). See the convention collective.
– Unemployment: You will sign up with Pôle Emploi.
– Retirement: You and your employers pay into a general retirement fund.
– Hours: Your hours are normally fixed and overtime is paid.

> Cadres
– Trial period: 4 months renewable once
– Notice period: Generally 3 months
– Unemployment: You will sign up with APEC.
– Retirement: You and your employers pay more for your retirement than employees.
– Hours: Cadres are generally present until the job is done!

Since January 2017 most of us in France have the right to disconnect (the right to not consult our mobile phones and emails during evenings/weekends…).

For those on a fixed-term contract, an advantage is the 10% bonus prorata to your earnings at the end of your assignment. An advantage which does not exist in the UK!

Finally, something that I had personally not envisaged was an Azerty keyboard, but you get used to it!

French employment law is complex and evolving! We cannot squeeze such detail into this article! To learn more about your rights in France consult https://www.service-public.fr/ and in the UK: https://www.gov.uk/

Lynda Petit is an English mother tongue highly experienced recruitment consultant based in Paris since 2003. MA in Human Resource Management and qualified from the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, London. Recent training has included Technology Training Core, Geekology. Her work experience has been acquired within international companies in London and Paris.

Expertise with a smile, modern recruitment with a human touch, quality over quantity, working together for success!”



  1. Sandy

    With regard to “health insurance “: this is not free! Either this health insurance is deducted from your salary or you have to add the amount your employer pays to your tax declaration. This is because Tax Administration considers this health insurance “offered” by your employer as a benefit which must be declared. In the end, it can increase your tax income considerably. For instance, to me, it represents 150€+/month, albeit I don’t need it as I’m never sick, and there are much cheaper insurance proposed on the market. But employees cannot refuse their employer’s choice. Therefore, before choosing a new position in another company, always ask for precision about their health insurance (amount, deducted or to be declared etc.).

  2. Anonymous

    Hi Lynda, Great article! If only I had known all that when I came over to Paris in 2003. I answered an Ad in the Fusac magazine and so I didn’t go through a recruitment agency. I had no idea about the differences between the UK and France – until much later and after much questioning! Hope to see you soon, Joanna Gilbert-Sparks

  3. adminsmart

    hello Sandy, if you have a partner who has health insurance, you are not obliged to accept your companies health insurance. If you had health insurance prior to your recruitment at this company, you could have kept it and refused the companies offer. All companies are obliged to provide health insurance, but salaried staff are not obliged to accept it if they can prove they have an alternative health insurance plan. Hope this helps, Lynda