Right of private sector employee to strike

Verified 28 July 2023 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister)

In order to express collective occupational demands, employees have the right to strike. How do I use this right? Can the strike be abusive? Should the employee inform his employer? Do you have to give notice before you use the right to strike? We're doing an update on the regulations.

The strike is a collective and concerted cessation of work in support of occupational demands.

The strike must therefore bring together the following 3 conditions:

  • Shutdown total of labor
  • Shutdown collective of work by all striking employees
  • Knowledge by the employer of professional claims (concerning pay, working conditions, defense of rights...)


An action which does not meet the definition of a strike may be described as a movement unlawful. In this case, the employee is not protected by the right to strike. He's at risk a disciplinary sanction and can be fired.

To qualify as a strike, the movement must be followed by at least 2 employees.

However, an employee may strike alone within the company under the following conditions:

  • Either the employee accompanies a national call to strike
  • Either he's the only employee in the company

Any employee may strike. He is not required to be unionized or staff representative to strike.

NoHowever, the employee does not have to inform his employer of his intention to strike.

It is up to the employer to ascertain the employee's absence on the day of the strike and to ask him the reasons for his absence. The employee may, however, notify his employer of his absence if he so wishes.

In the private sector, a strike may be called at any time.

Employees who want to use their right to strike do not have to give notice.

A strike is possible even if it has not been preceded by a warning or an attempt at conciliation with the employer. The employer must, however, be aware of the employees' occupational demands at the time the strike was called.

Employees are not obliged to wait for their employer's refusal before starting the strike.


One agreement or collective agreement may not restrict or regulate the exercise of the right to strike.


Special rules apply to bodies and establishments responsible for the management of a public service (e.g. in passenger transport or air transport).

An employee cannot be punished or dismissed for having gone on strike. Nor can he be discriminated against (for example in terms of salary increases).

However, in the case of gross negligence of the employee (including personal and active participation in illegal acts), the employee may be dismissed.


Certain actions are illegal and can therefore be punished criminally: damage to premises, equipment, acts of violence against company management or staff.

The employer and non-strikers may seek redress in court, in particular before the prud'homme council and/or the competent criminal judge.

It does not exist no minimum or maximum legal duration.

The strike may be short-lived (1 hour or less) or may continue for a long period (several days or weeks).

It can be repeated.

Example :

A total and concerted stoppage of 1/4 of work every hour for 10 days is a normal exercise of the right to strike.

The strike suspend the contract of employment, but does not break it.

The employer shall deduct from the employee's pay a share of the salary and any incidentals (travel allowance, for example).

The deduction must be proportional to the length of the work stoppage. Any upper restraint is prohibited.

Please note

the exercise of the right to strike must not be mentioned on the striker's pay slip.

Strikers must respect the work of non-strikers and cannot prevent them from working (e.g. occupancy of premises may, depending on the circumstances, be abusive).

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