Gepubliceerd op 17 april 2023

NLBC.FR: Terminating an employment contract in France

Terminating an employment contract in France

Everything you need to know about employee termination documents

When an employment contract is terminated, regardless of the type of contract or the reason for termination (resignation, dismissal, etc.), the employer must provide its employee with a number of specific documents.

Many employers get stressed out about the deadlines and the consequences if they are missed. Here we tell you everything you need to know.

1. What documents are required?

3 documents must the provided to the employee:

  • Work certificate (certificat de travail)

The work certificate is important because it allows the employee to prove the existence and duration of the employment relationship, in particular for calculating their pension rights.

The work certificate must indicate the date on which the employee joined and left the company, their successive positions and the corresponding time periods, and if they are continuing with the company’s health insurance.

  • Full and final settlement receipt (solde de tout compte)

The full and final settlement is a document drawn up by the employer, which lists the sums paid to the employee at the time of termination of the employment contract.

It includes salary, bonuses, payment in lieu of paid leave, severance pay, and payment in lieu of notice if applicable.

The employee may challenge the full and final settlement receipt and the deadlines differ depending on whether the employee has signed it or not:

  • If the employee has signed the receipt, they have a 6-month period from the date of signature to challenge the sums included in the full and final settlement amount.
  • If the employee has refused to sign the receipt, they have a period of:
    • one year to challenge the sums included in the full and final settlement amount relating to termination of the contract (eg severance pay);
    • two years to challenge the sums relating to performance of the contract (eg reimbursement of business expenses); and
    • three years to challenge the sums relating to payment of salaries (eg bonuses, overtime, etc).
  • The employer’s declaration for Pôle Emploi (attestation Pôle Emploi)

The employer must provide the employee with an employer’s declaration for Pôle Emploi, which enables the employee to claim unemployment benefits (Allocation de retour à l’emploi, “ARE”).

2. What is the deadline for providing these documents?

The termination documents must be provided to the employee at the end of the employment contract, either: 

  • at the end of the notice period, when it applies, whether or not the notice period has been served; or
  • in the absence of notice, for example, in the case of dismissal for serious or gross misconduct (faute grave), on the date of notification of the dismissal.

3. What are the risks if you do not provide the employee with these documents on time?

Many clients worry because payroll constraints can result in several days’ delay.

However, as long as this delay remains reasonable, it does not create any real legal risks for the following reasons:

Firstly, remember that the termination documents must be collected by the employee. This means that the employer’s only obligation is to keep the documents available for the employee at the workplace.

Secondly, an employee has little practical interest in going to court to obtain the handing over of documents under penalty and/or damages, because:

  • by the time the case is brought before the court, the documents will have been delivered so that the action to obtain delivery of the documents under penalty payment will be moot; and
  • late delivery does not automatically justify a damages payment if the employee does not demonstrate the existence of any damage.

Thirdly, the fines (€750 for a natural person and €3,750 for a legal entity) require at least an official report of the offence to be drawn up and forwarded to the Public Prosecutor's Office, which decides whether or not to prosecute. However, in practice, the documents will have been provided before an official report has been drawn up.


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