flag France France: Operating a business

In this page: Legal Forms of Companies | The Active Population in Figures | Working Conditions | The Cost of Labour | Management of Human Resources | Welsh diplomatic representations


Legal Forms of Companies

Sole propietorship ("entreprise individuelle")
Number of partners: 1 person only.
Capital (max/min): No minimum capital required.
Shareholders and liability: Unlimited liability.
Limited liability company (SARL)
Number of partners: Between 1 and 100 partners/shareholders maximum.
Capital (max/min): Minimum: EUR 1
Shareholders and liability: Limited to the amount of capital contributed.
Private limited company under sole ownership (EURL)
Number of partners: 1 person only (legal or natural).
Capital (max/min): Minimum: EUR 1
Shareholders and liability: Limited to the amount of capital contributed.
Public limited company (SA)
Number of partners: Minimum 2 shareholders (7 for listed companies)
Capital (max/min): EUR 37,000, of which half as to be paid-up at the moment of incorporation.
Shareholders and liability: Limited to the amount of capital contributed.
Simplified joint-stock company (SAS).
Number of partners: Minimum 1 natural person or legal entity with no maximum.
Capital (max/min): No minimum capital required.
Shareholders and liability: Limited to the amount of capital contributed.
General partnership (SNC).
Number of partners: Minimum 2 partners
Capital (max/min): No minimum capital required.
Shareholders and liability: Liability is joint and indefinite.
Limited joint-stock partnership (SCS)
Number of partners: 2 partners: the active partners and the silent partners
Capital (max/min): No minimum required.
Shareholders and liability: The active partner: joint and indefinite;
The silent partner: limited to the amount of capital contributed.

Business Setup Procedures

Setting Up a Company France OECD
Procedures (number) 5.00 5.21
Time (days) 4.00 9.47

Source: The World Bank - Doing Business, Latest data available.

The Competent Organisation
The Portal for the Company Formalities Centres
The Register of Commerce
For Further Information
Consult the Doing Business Website, to find out about procedures to start a Business in France.
Registry of the Tribunal de Commerce de Paris, in French.

Financial Information Directories

Dun & Bradstreet - Worldwide directory with financial information on businesses

Infogreffe - Certified financial information on companies

Manageo - French companies directory

Societe.com - Company directory in France.

Verif.com - Financial information on French companies


Recovery Procedures

In the framework of the safeguard scheme, two legal decisions are generally made:
- being put into receivership, a state where payment stops, it is impossible to face the liabilities due with the current assets.
- compulsory liquidation, a persistent state where payment stops and receivership is manifestly impossible.
Since the law of July 26, 2005, it is possible for a buyer to make a takeover bid for a company once the safeguard or receivership procedure has begun.
Minimum Debt-to-Capital Ratio Triggering Liquidation
No minimum
Bankruptcy Laws
The Commercial Code
Reorganization and Rehabilitation Laws
The economic initiative Act 2003-721 of 1 August 2003
Company safeguard scheme: Commercial Code art. L. 626-1 et seq. and R. 626-1 et seq. (in french)

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The Active Population in Figures

Labour Force 30,438,69130,385,85930,033,626

Source: International Labour Organization - ILOSTAT, Latest data available.

Total activity rate 71.60%72.01%71.82%
Men activity rate 75.66%75.90%75.44%
Women activity rate 67.64%68.22%68.30%

Source: International Labour Organization - ILOSTAT, Latest data available.

For Further Statistics
INSEE statistics on work
For Further Information About the Labour Market
ILO, International Labour Organisation
Studies and research of the Ministry of Employment

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Working Conditions

Opening Hours
  • Legal Weekly Duration
35 hours
  • Maximum Duration
Maximum duration : 10 hours per day and 48 hours per week.
  • Night Hours
Between 9pm and 6am.
Working Rest Day
The weekly rest day of at least 24 hours is Sunday; this day must be observed but permanent dispensations may be granted for particular activities.
Paid Annual Vacation
2 and a half working days of paid vacation a month; working days are all weekdays except Sunday and public holidays.
This equals 30 days or 5 weeks vacation a year.
Retirement Age
67 years of age, but as soon as the employee has paid enough into the compulsory retirement scheme, she/he can leave her/his job any time after age 62.
Child Labour and Minimum Age For Employment
16 years old
Informal Labour Market
About 6% of the population say they have worked without being declared every year. For further information consult the European Commission's study of undeclared work.
Undeclared work is above all made up of hours of work only partially declared or undeclared overtime.

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The Cost of Labour


Minimum Wage
In 2022, the minimum gross monthly wage is € 1,603.12 according to Service Public (lastest available data).
Average Wage
In 2020, the average net annual wage reached € 29,070 according to INSEE (latest available data).
Other Forms of Pay
  • Pay For Overtime
Between the 36th and 39th hour an increase of 25%.
Between the 40th and the 43rd hour an increase of 25%.
From the 44th hour an increase of 50%.
  • Pay For Rest Days Worked
According to the collective agreements, except May 1 which is increased by 100%.
  • Pay For Night Hours
For one hour of night work if it is for less than 25 nights a year: an increase of 25%
For one hour of night work if it is for more than 25 nights a year: 10%
  • Pay For Overtime at Night
The same as for overtime.

Social Security Costs

The Areas Covered
Health insurance (medical care, maternity, disability, death), retirement pensions, family allowances, unemployment benefit.
Contributions Paid By the Employer: Employer contribution varies depending on the size, type and location of businesses to about 50% of gross pay.
Contributions Paid By the Employee: About 20% of the gross wage
Competent Organization

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Management of Human Resources



Method of Recruitment
More and more applications are made via Internet. The method of recruitment in France is by face to face interview.
Recruitment Agencies
The ANPEis the official employment agency.
There is also a specialized agency for managers, the APEC.
Recruitment agencies: Michael Page, Expectra, Robert Walters etc.
Agencies specialized in temporary work: Randstad, Adecco, etc.
Recruitment Websites

The Contract

Type of Contract
The permanent contract (CDI) is the type of contract which is most often used.
The fixed-term contract (CDD) makes it possible to employ temporary workers.
The Contrat Nouvelle Embauche (New Hiring Contract) is a new form of CDI where the rules for breach of contract are more flexible for employers during the first two years in exchange for the payment of a 10% indemnity for the employee.

Breach of Contracts

  • Retirement
There are several ways of retiring: early retirement, automatic retirement and official retirement.
  • Dismissals
The employer initiates dismissals:
- redundancy is either individual or mass redundancy
- dismissal for professional misconduct
  • Other Possible Methods
Resignation; this is initiated by the employee.
Labour Laws
Labour Code
Juritravail, an information website on the labour law
Consult the Doing Business Website, to obtain a summary of the labour regulations that apply to local entreprises.

Dispute Settlement


Conciliation Process

Cases of Dispute
Physical violence (7%), moral harassment (7,7%), sexual harassment (1,5%), working conditions, etc.
  • Legal Framework
Submission to the council: this is the filing of the request for the procedure of settling work disputes.
Arbitration: conciliation between the parties is achieved. In case of non-conciliation, the procedure is referred to the judgment bureau.
Judgment: the case is judged by the councilors of the industrial tribunal (Conseil des Prud'hommes).
Remedy at law: the case can be submitted to the appeal court (cours d'appel) and this can review the decision of the industrial tribunal.
  • Procedure
Defined in the Labour Code

Judicial Structures

  • Legal Framework
Defined in the Labour Code
  • Competent Legal Body
The Industrial Tribunal ( Conseil des Prud'hommes)
The occupational safety and health administration (Inspection du Travail)

Social Partners

Employer Associations
CPME - Confederation of Small and Medium Enterprises
MEDEF - Leading Network of Entrepreneurs in France
Social Dialogue and Involvement of Social Partners
In France negotiations take place at the national, sectorial and company levels. French labour law provides an extensive institutional role for employee representatives and for organised labour. Strikes are common in France and are part of the social fabric.
Unionisation Rate
Today 8% of French employees belong to a union (5% in the private sector and 14% in the public sector). That is twice as few as 25 years ago, yet the unions remain strong and active.
Labour Unions
The CGT, general labour confederation
The CFDT, French democratic labour confederation
FO, workers' union
The CFTC, French Christian workers' confederation
The CFE-CGC, management confederation-general confederation of managers
The UNSA, national union of autonomous unions
Regulation Bodies
The Ministry of Labour, Employment, Professional Training and Social Dialogue

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Welsh diplomatic representations:

The Welsh Government overseas offices aim to grow the economy by increasing exporting and attracting inward investment, raising Wales' profile on the international stage and establishing Wales as a globally responsible nation. Details on the offices in France are below:

+33 1 44 51 31 36
Open from 9:00am to 5:00pm local time

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This content is provided by Business Wales, an agency of the Welsh Government, and is intended to Welsh individuals and companies for information purposes.

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Latest Update: May 2024