Bilingual: French labour law: the new duration of the trial periods (“période d'essai”) according to the law of June 25th, 2008

Article 2 of the law of June 25th 2008 introduces new duration for trial periods. It also determines conditions and procedures relating to their renewal, and defines the modalities for concluding such trial periods.

It provides for maximal durations of the trial periods and deletes the minimal duration of such trial periods.

It should be noted that the trial period must be expressly stipulated in the employment contract.

1) Duration of the trial period

Pursuant to Article L. 1221-19 of the French labour Code, an unlimited-term contract of employment, can contain a trial period with a maximal duration of:

- 2 months for the workers and the employees;

- 3 months for the supervisors and the technicians;

- 4 months for executives (“cadres”).

2) Renewal of the trial period

Such trial period can be renewed only once it is expressly set forth in a sectoral collective agreement. Therefore, the trial period, including its renewal, cannot exceed:

- 4 months for the workers and the employees;

- 6 months for the supervisors;

- 8 months for executives (“cadres”).

3) Breach of the trial period

If the employer terminates the trial period, it must respect a notice period of at least:

- 48 hours during the first month of presence;

- 2 weeks after a month of presence;

- 1 month after 3 months of presence.

If it is the employee who terminates, such trial period, he/she must be respect a 48 hour notice period.

4) Articulation with collective bargaining agreement concluded before and after the publication of the new law (article L. 1221-21 of the French Labour Code)

4.1) Sectoral collective bargaining agreement previous to the publication of the law:

Clauses fixing shorter durations are valid until June 30th, 2009.

After this date, if the staff representatives did not conclude a new agreement, periods planned by the law will substitute themselves and repeal the initially fixed trial periods.

But clauses fixing longer durations for trial period, remain valid.

Remark: Such clauses go against the principle of favour as in every case it is the longest trial period that will apply to the employee.

These provisions are also applicable to the renewal of the trial period

4.2) Sectoral collective bargaining agreement posterior to the publication of the law:

The collective bargaining agreement can fix shorter durations but it cannot plan longer durations.

Remark: Of course, the contract of employment can set forth a shorter trial period. The branch collective bargaining agreement can set forth only shorter trial periods than those set forth by law.

Frédéric CHHUM avocat à la Cour


Tel : 00 33 (0)1 42 89 24 48

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