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Employee working time: scheduling

Verified 23 November 2020 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

Coronavirus: adaptation of labor law

Ordinance No. 2020-323 of 25 March 2020 on emergency measures relating to paid leave, working hours and rest days provides for the possibility of temporarily and exceptionally derogating from the maximum daily and weekly working time.

This derogation may not extend beyond 31 December 2020.

If the undertaking alternates between periods of high and low activity, it may provide for an adjustment of working hours, over a period exceeding the week and fixed at the maximum at 3 years. During this period, the employee may be required to work either more than 35 hours per week or less, depending on the activity of the company. The conditions for setting up schedules vary depending on whether it is provided for by a collective agreement or directly by the employer.

By collective agreement

Depending on whether the working time arrangement agreement has been concluded since or before August 21, 2008, the conditions are different.

Working time

The duration of the employee's work is fixed by agreement of enterprise, establishment, agreement or branch agreement, which establishes the organization of working time.

The working time arrangements provide for working hours and hours which vary according to the week.

Example :

in the event of a high level of activity, during a period known in advance, the employee may be required to work more than 35 hours for certain weeks and then less than 35 hours for the following weeks.

Change in working time or hours

Full-time employee

Where the working time or the hours of the employee are changed, the agreement establishing the organization of working time shall lay down the conditions and the time limit for notifying the employee of such changes. The employee is notified within a reasonable period (the duration of which is not fixed by law, it depends on the circumstances applicable to the company).

The organization of working time cannot be considered as a modification of the employment contract. Thus, the modification of working hours cannot be refused by the employee.

Part-time employee

If the part-time employee is concerned with the organization of working time, the agreement shall provide for the method of communication and of changing the distribution of working time and hours.


The hours worked by the employee shall be considered as overtime conditions that vary depending on whether the agreement is for a one-year period or a different period.

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1 year reference period

Overtime shall be counted at the end of the reference period laid down in the working agreement.

Any hour worked by the employee beyond 1,607 hours working hours shall be deemed to be one additional hour.

Example :

if an employee has worked 1,630 hours over the year, 23 hours of work are counted as overtime.


the agreement may provide for a limit of less than 1,607 hours for overtime.

Reference period less than or greater than 1 year

Overtime shall be counted at the end of the reference period laid down in the Agreement.

Any hour worked by the employee in excess of an average of 35 hours per week shall be regarded as an additional hour.

This average duration shall be determined by counting the hours worked during the reference period laid down in the Agreement.

However, a specific overtime count shall be made if the reference period of the agreement is greater than 1 year.

This count shall be made:

  • in part during the reference period
  • and partly at the end of the reference period

In this case, the agreement must provide for a limit, exceeding 35 hours per week, beyond which the hours worked in the same week constitute overtime.

Overtime is then paid with the salary of the month concerned.


The employee is paid under the usual conditions.

His monthly remuneration may be calculated independently of the actual hours, under the conditions laid down in the agreement on the organization of working time.

Any collective agreement on the allocation of working hours concluded before 21 August 2008 shall remain applicable as long as it is not contested by the organizations which have signed it. The signed agreement provides for

  • Work per cycle
  • Modulation of working time
  • Or working time reduction days (RTT)

Work by cycle

The agreement may provide for the organization of working time in the form of cycles, the duration of which shall be fixed at a few weeks, in order to adapt to regular variations in activities.

The distribution of working hours within a cycle is repeated identically from one cycle to another.

Within a cycle, the average weekly working time is 35 hours.

Hours worked beyond that time are considered to be overtime.

Working time modulation

Modulation of working time makes it possible to spread the working time over all or part of the year, according to the activity.

Working hours are increased during high activity and reduced during low activity.

Working hours must not exceed 1,607 hours per year (or less, if the Convention or Agreement so provides).

Reduction of working time (RTT)

Weekly working hours may be reduced by the allocation of days or half-days of rest.

The days of RTT are divided:

  • All or part of the year, under conditions defined by the Convention or the Agreement (reference should be made to all provisions laid down)
  • Or over periods of 4 weeks, according to a predetermined schedule.

By employer

In the absence of a collective agreement concluded in the undertaking, the employer shall retain the possibility to provide for a change in the working time of employees. However, the conditions are different from those laid down in the event of agreement.

In the absence of a collective agreement or a branch agreement, the employer retains the possibility of adjusting the employee's working time.

The duration of the work is then fixed by the employer, who establishes an indicative program of the variation of the working hours.

This program shall be subject to the opinion of the Social and Economic Committee..

The distribution of working hours can be established over a period, called reference period, up to 4 weeks (or 9 weeks if the company has less than 50 employees).

If the business is running continuously, the breakdown can be set up over several weeks, with no maximum ceiling.

If the employer wishes to change the duration or hours of work, he must notify the employee concerned at least 7 working days before the date on which the change occurs.

The employee's working hours vary according to the periods of activity, and are considered as overtime:

  • Any hour worked beyond 39 hours per week,
  • Or any hour performed beyond the average duration of 35 hours per week (calculated over the reference period)

In the event of the arrival or departure of the employee during the period of adjustment of the working time, the hours completed beyond 35 hours per week shall be considered as overtime.

The monthly remuneration shall be calculated independently of the actual hours worked, on the basis of 35 hours per week.