Topic 1 Introduction to the labour market of Martinique, employment contracts and rights

There exists different types of work contracts, the most common are the CDI, the CDD and contrat témporaire or d’intérim (temporary contracts).

  • The CDI, contrat à durée indéterminée, is a permanent job contract with no end-date. Employment usually begins with a two- to three-month trial period, which can be renewed. A written job contract is not compulsory (a verbal agreement can be sufficient) unless the convention collective stipulates one, although the employer must inform the employee in writing of the primary responsibilities of the job. The contract for part-time CDI posts must in writing.
  • The CDD, Contrat à durée déterminée is a fixed-term contract for a specific duration of employment and can be renewed twice. There is no minimum duration, but the maximum cannot exceed 24 months. After this period the contract must either be made into a CDI or ceased. A CDD contract cannot be given for jobs that are considered dangerous and must be in writing, written in French and signed by the employee. At the end of the contract, the employee has the right to a bonus, which should be at least 10 percent of the total gross salary, unless the convention collectif imposes a lower percentage
  • Contrat de Travail Temporaire or d’Intérim, are almost like an CDD but with three parties involved : the employer, the employee and the employment agency. Companies can only use temporary employees for short-term activities. They are hired and paid for each job placement by the employment agency.
  • Working as “casual labour” is illegal in France. Any incomes earned in France must be declared by both the employer and the employee, however informally or irregularly this employment may occur.
  • Job title and professional qualification
  • Salary and bonus
  • Convention Collective if relative
  • Notice period in case of resignation
  • Place of work
  • Holidays
  • Duration of the contract
  • Trial period
  • Notice period

You have the right to have your employment contract to be translated into your language, but the French version is the legally binding version in case of a dispute.

Be sure to get a written contract and ask any questions you have before signing it.

As of 01 August 2022 the minimum wage  called the SMIC in France is 11,07€ per hour, corresponding to  a net salary of 1329,05 € and an hourly net wage of 8,76€. The SMIC is indexed to inflation and so it is revalorized every year. It is illegal to pay an adult employee under the amount of the SMIC, except in some cases such as traineeships or apprentices. 

An employment contract can be ended in different ways. In addition to redundancy or resigning, there is also the option to negotiate your departure through mutual agreement. This is called Rupture Conventionelle. If a situation is untenable, this is often a worthwhile option to look into as it allows you to benefit from unemployment benefits. Note that an employer cannot impose a Rupture Conventionelle on you to avoid having to make you redundant.

Regardless of the type of job contract, the employer must give the following documents to the employee at the end of the contract:

  • Work certificate (certificat de travail)
  • A document for the Job center (Pôle emploi ), attestation destinée à Pole Emploi, allowing the person to claim unemployment benefits
  • Solde de tout compte, a document that lists all the payments given to the employee at the end of the contract such as salary, bonuses, termination benefits etc.

To benefit from the unemployment benefits called the ARE (Allocation d’aide au Retour à l’Emploi), a person must register at the local Pôle Emploi office within 12 months of the end of an employment contract.

Also, you must have worked at least 130 days or 910 hours (which corresponds approximately to 6 months).

These days worked are searched for in the last 24 months (2 years) if you are under 53 years old or in the past 36 months (3 years) if you are 53 or older. The duration of the benefits will vary depending on how long a person has worked during the reference period of 24 or 36 months but cannot exceed 2 years for a person under 53 years old.

Standard working hours in France are set to 35 hours per week or 1,607 hours per year. Any extra hours completed outside this would be deemed as overtime.

Unless agreed between the employer and the employee, there are set hourly rates for overtime:

  • Increase of 25% for the additional first 8 hours worked in one week
  • Increase of 50% after the initial 8 hours

Employees in France receive 2.5 days of paid holiday for every month they work which corresponds to 5 full weeks of holiday allowance a year. There are some limitations to when employees can take their holiday:

  • Days taken at once cannot exceed 24 working days
  • Employees must take 12 or more working days at once as their main holiday