Payday in France: Legal Obligations and Employer Responsibilities

It goes without saying that payday is important, and this of course holds true in France as well! But did you know that you can be penalized if you don’t pay your employees on time? France has a robust framework of laws designed to protect employees from illegal practices and non-performance of contractual obligations. These regulations ensure that employees receive fair treatment and timely compensation (check them out here). Employers who fail to comply with these laws can face severe consequences, including financial penalties and legal repercussions. It’s essential for employers to understand these obligations to maintain a lawful and harmonious workplace.

This blog provides a guide for employers to navigate the complexities of French labour laws, offering insights into when and how to pay their workers and outlining the consequences of failing to meet these obligations.

When Should You Pay Your Employees?

French labour law does not mandate a specific payday for employees. The payment date is typically established during negotiations or defined by the company’s internal policies or collective agreements. However, wages must be paid on a day when employees are legally authorized to work, which excludes Sundays. The primary requirement is that payroll must be processed once a month and at the same time each month. In certain cases, such as summer jobs, employees may receive payment twice a month.

How Should You Pay Your Employees?

Employers must provide a payslip, either in paper or electronic format, directly to their employees. Employees cannot designate a third party to receive their salary. There are several methods for paying employees, including:

  • Bank transfer
  • Cheque
  • Cash: This option is only available for salaries under €1,500, and employees must specifically request to be paid in cash.

Employees are entitled to request an advance of up to half of their salary, which the employer cannot refuse. However, the employer has the right to deny any subsequent requests for salary advances within the same pay period.

What Happens if You Pay Your Employees Too Late?

Actions Employees Can Take if Not Paid on Time

If you are late in paying your employees or have not paid them as agreed, your employees can take action against you. They can write a letter to demand payment, sent by post with a confirmation of receipt. For more details on the required structure, see example format. Additionally, they can contact the French Labor Court “Conseil des prud’-hommes” (CPH) to obtain the amount claimed. Employees have three years from the day they should have been paid to make this request.

Risks for Employers if They Pay Employees Too Late

If you fail to pay your employees’ wages, pay only partially, or pay late, you are committing a criminal offense and can be fined up to €2,250. The CPH may order you to pay the owed amounts to your employee, potentially under penalty. Additionally, your employee may be awarded damages to compensate for the harm suffered.

A judge can also terminate the employment contract at your expense for non-payment of salary. In this case, your employee is entitled to the same compensation as if they were dismissed without just cause.

If you regularly fail to respect your commitments, your employees can send you a formal notice, demanding you comply with your legal and contractual obligations. If the delay in payment or non-payment of salary persists, the law allows the employee to stop working.


There’s no denying the significance of payday, and France is no exception! Ensuring timely and accurate payment of wages is not only a legal requirement in France but also a critical aspect of maintaining a harmonious and productive workplace. Employers must be vigilant in understanding and adhering to the labour laws that govern salary payments. Failure to do so can lead to severe financial penalties, legal action, and potential damage to the employer-employee relationship. By staying informed and compliant with these regulations, employers can protect their businesses and foster a positive work environment. Remember, a well-managed payroll system reflects the integrity and reliability of your business, contributing to overall employee satisfaction and loyalty.

Master French Labour Laws with Confidence. Internago is your trustworthy partner regarding international payroll. You can rely on us to help you navigate the complexities of French Labour Laws. For more information, see our earlier blog on the subject and check our website or contact us at

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