French Child-Labor Laws

labourer resting image by Joy Fera from

France has very strict child-labour laws. Children are restricted from working without specific circumstances or permits from the government. It is important for employers to know these child-labour laws when employing high school students so that they are not fined.

Age Restrictions

There are very specific age restrictions on when children may work in France. With the exception of children enrolled in apprenticeship programs or working within the entertainment industry who are over the age of fourteen, children may not be employed in France who are under the age of sixteen. Entertainment-industry work is allowed for children even younger for very short periods of time, but this is the rare exception to the rule. Children under the age of 18 may not sell posters or explicit materials that are contrary to public morality. Children under the age of 18 also may not work in dangerous professions.

Entertainment Industry Exceptions

Children under age who are employed in the entertainment industry may not be employed by any production or entertainment company unless they have received authorisation in advance from the competent administrative authority. Written authorisation from the child's representative, which can be their parent, guardian, agent or attorney, must have been received by the production company and must be attached to the employer's application for authorisation. Modelling agencies wishing to employ child models must also apply in advance and receive permission and be granted a general license for hiring child models. This must be granted through the Chèque Emploi Service Universel (or CESU), which handles all small-scale or short-term employment in the country. There are also maximum amounts of time a child in this position may work per day or week.

Hours to Work

Minors under the age of 18 may not work more then seven hours a day, or thirty-five hours a week. In addition, minors over the age of 16 years may not work between the hours of ten in the evening and six in the morning. Minors under the age of 16 may not work between the hours of eight in the evening and six in the morning. These time limits are strictly enforced in all places children are working, and periodic inspections by labour inspectors are a regular occurrence.

Apprenticeship Programs

Apprenticeship programs help train and educate children for their careers in an intensive environment. A minimum of four hundred hours per year, or one to two full days a week on average, are spent at a local apprenticeship training centre and last one to three years total, depending on the apprenticeship being taught. Children who are over the age of fourteen can take an apprenticeship program, depending upon what they are learning, and will be paid for their time, with this pay gradually increasing over each year of apprenticeship. This is a combination of on-the-job training and extended education.

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