Gepubliceerd op 23 mei 2023

NLBC.FR: Sending foreign workers to France for the Olympic Games - How does it work?

With the hosting of the Olympic Games in August and September 2024, many foreign companies are planning to send employees to work in France during the Games. 

These companies should be wary of unreliable internet sources that purport to explain the applicable legal framework. This information must be interpreted very carefully.  

This article reviews the 2 main issues that companies need to know in order to operate lawfully in France. 

1. Employee secondment is subject to certain rules

When seconding employees to France, companies must comply with certain formalities:

  • Complete and file a pre-declaration online via the SIPSI website before the assignment begins,
  • Appoint a representative in France.

The Labor Code does provide an exemption in case of secondment for “short term services or operations or one-off events" concerning employees performing "one of the activities listed by decree of the Minister in charge of Labor Law" (art. L. 1262-6 of the C. trav.).

This decree, refers in particular to: "athletes, referees, members of the sports management team, official delegates attached to the practice or organization of sports events, as long as the interventions or presence on the national territory is justified by the performance of the services that does not exceed ninety days over twelve consecutive months.

This exemption is therefore limited to athletes, referees, members of the sports management team and official delegates. For employees outside these categories, the aforementioned formalities must be performed.

In addition, this exemption expressly excludes “activities such as the assembly or dismantling of equipment or temporary installations, catering, transport, surveillance and security of sites dedicated to sporting events. [...] ".

As a result, a very small number of workers are covered by the exemption.

Finally, it should be noted that, in any case, employers seconding employees to France must comply with a set of minimum rules under the French Labour Code and the sector-specific industry-level collective bargaining agreement, including rules governing remuneration, working time and paid leave, as well as maternity, paternity, child care and family-related leave.

2. Employers based outside the European Union must obtain a work permit

EU citizens benefit from free movement of workers including the right to access, reside and work in another member state. However, foreign workers are required to obtain a work permit to work in France (article L. 5221-2 and L. 5221-5 of the Labor Code).

Again, the French Labor Code provides an exception for a limited number of activities including sports events, for a period of less than or equal to 3 months (articles L. 5221-2-1 and D. 5221-2-1 of the Labor Code).

However, foreign companies should be careful since the scope of this exemption is quite restricted.

In a circular dated November 2, 2016, the Ministry of the Interior specified that "both participants, such as athletes [...] and persons accompanying them and participating directly in the event or accredited by the organizers: referees, coaches, doctors, sponsors, technical and organizing staff, etc., are exempt from the requirement to hold a work permit."

The circular also specifies that in the event of an inspection by the authorities, the employer must be able to provide any element making it possible to establish the direct participation of the worker in the event such as a “letter from the federation for athletes” or a “letter of accreditation”.

Thus, the scope of the exemption is limited to persons directly participating in the games and/or those accredited by the International Olympic Committee.

Outside these specific cases, a work permit is required.


Voltaire Avocats is a member of the Netherlands Business Council France.