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Finding a job in France is already not easy and understanding all the rules and paperwork adds to the challenge. As in many other countries, a work contract is quite important to show, especially if you want to get a rental or loan application accepted. Let’s take a closer look at the two main work contracts you will come across, the CDD and CDI.

CDI versus CDD

The CDI is a Contrat à Durée Indeterminée – essentially an open-ended or permanent employment contract.

The CDD is a Contrat à Durée Determinée – a fixed-term or temporary employment contract.

These are the two most common types but by no means the only form of French employment contract. The contracts have to be drawn up by the employer, who must ensure that it’s legally the correct type for the circumstances.

CDI in more detail

CDI : Contrat à Durée Indéterminée (permanent employment contract)

The employment usually starts with a two or three month trial period, and this period can be renewed if the employer so wishes. A written work contract is not mandatory, a verbal agreement can be sufficient, unless the convention collective (collective agreement) for the industry requires one, or it is a part-time CDI post. The employee has the right to request a copy of the contract, if there is one in writing, in his or her own language, but only the French document is legally binding.

The employer must inform the employee in writing of the primary responsibilities and details of the job, such as:

  • Place of work,
  • job title,
  • a brief description of the work,
  • starting date,
  • number of days of paid leave to which the employee is entitled,
  • length of periods of notice,
  • agreed salary and payment,
  • working hours: daily or weekly,
  • collective agreements governing the conditions of employment.

Termination of a CDI

France is famous for its employment laws, and it is a well known fact that firing an employee is very difficult. French workers are very well protected, and dismissals are costly, in terms of time and money, for the employers.

The CDI may be terminated at any time, on the initiative of the employee or by mutual agreement. The notice period in the contract must be respected. No matter who terminated the employment, certain documents must be given to the employee at the end of the contract of employment, such as certificate of work, certification of the employment center, account summary of the salary savings schemes.
The employer can only end the CDI due to one or more of the below circumstances:

  • During test period without special grounds
  • Economic layoff
  • Dismissal for professional fault
  • Ex officio retirement (the employer can retire an employee at 70 years of age)
  • In case of force majeure


CDD France

CDD : Contrat à Durée Déterminée (fixed-term contract)

A CDD contract can be issued by an employer who needs to replace an absent employee temporarily or needs to reinforce the number of employees temporarily. It may be for a project, high season or other short-term workloads the employer needs to cover. A CDD cannot be given for jobs considered dangerous. (read all about that by clicking on the word “dangerous”). A CDD contract must be in writing, in French and be signed by the employee. If one of these conditions is not fully met, the CDD is automatically transformed into a CDI contract.

There is no minimum duration for the CDD contract, but there is a maximum, which is between 9-24 months depending on circumstances. After this period, either the employment must cease or be transferred to a CDI contract. The employee’s rights and obligations are identical to those of a person with a CDI.

There are several different versions of the CDD that may be used, as an example, there is one that can be used when employing a person over 57 years old.

The CDD ends at the end of the written contractual period and no notice is required by the employer. If the employee wants to terminate the contract prior to the specified date, they should put it in writing, even though it is not required. It is illegal for the employer to terminate the CDD before the stipulated end date of the contract.

When the contract runs out, and is not renewed, the employer is accountable for paying an end-of-contract instability work bonus of 10% of the salary.

I highly recommend you to check out the links below for much more information!

CDI : https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F1906?lang=en
Termination of CDI : https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F10033?lang=en
CDD : https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F21030?lang=en
Termination of CDD : https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F40?lang=en
Collective agreement : https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F78?lang=en


Ann-Lii De Maré

I grew up in the southern part of Sweden, where the eye meets Denmark and the Hamlet castle Kronborg only 4 kilometers away. I have spent the major part of my adult years in our beautiful capital Stockholm. In 2004 we packed up the family, i.e. my husband, our two, now adult children, a guinea pig and me and moved to Basel, Switzerland. We stayed for 3 years and then returned to Stockholm again. In 2018 we decided that it was time for a new adventure, this time we moved here, in Montpellier, and settled in the city center. We absolutely love it, even though it can be a challenge sometimes. Since the children still live in Sweden, we visit every now and then and they come here to enjoy the French life in the sun. I have experience from both the retail and the production industry, where I have focused on customer service and logistics for the last 10 years. I speak Swedish, English, some French, German and Danish. It is well known that the French way of doing things are not always the way one would expect, but it is their way. I hope that I will have the opportunity to assist you settling here in France.

All articles by: Ann-Lii De Maré

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