Work for under 18s – who can work and when?

Whether you are an employer, a parent or a young person under the age of 18, you might be interested to know that although under 18 year-olds are allowed to work in France, there are some regulations to be aware of.

Young people under 14 can work as actors in cinema, theatre, radio, television or sound recording or to participate in video game competitions. They can also go on information visits and periods of observation in a company.

From the age of 16, young people can work in most environments, however, health and safety is considered essential and so it is against the law to allow a young person to work in an unsafe or hazardous environment. Young people are not normally allowed to work at night, but in certain situations there are exemptions for example working in hotels, restaurants, catering industries.

For all under 18’s there are working time regulations in force so the most they can work in a week is 35 hours and maximum per day is 8 hours. They can also work up to 5 hours overtime per week but it must be clearly shown as overtime and they have automatic entitlement to all public holidays.

If a young person under 18 does want to work they will be required to get authorisation from one of their parents (or legal representative).

School pupils aged 14 or 15 wanting to work during school holidays are allowed to, but only when the holiday period is for more than 14 days, and the student must have at least half the holiday period as a continuous rest period. They can only do light work and without any risk to health or safety. If it is during holidays they can only work 7 hours a day, maximum 35 per week. Their pay must be at least 80% of the SMIC (National Minimum Wage) which is currently 9.76€, so young person’s minimum wage is 7.81 € per hour. The employer must also fill in a form called “demande préalable”, which must be sent to the local work inspectorate (Inspection du travail) before they can start work.

Apprenticeships are only available to those aged 15 and over.

Information visits and periods of observation in a company are also regulated. Regulations for accommodating school pupils can be found online.

This good government portal has useful information about internships in companies.

There is a useful list of contact details for organisations and links to resources relevant to working in France in the Angloinfo Riviera How To section.