How can you fire an employee in France?

Understanding how to fire your employees

France has the reputation of being a country where firing people is incredibly hard. And, to be fair, in France, you can’t just fire an employee without a reason. However, that doesn’t mean that you are unable to fire an employee that represents a liability for your company. Overall, there are 2 main reasons why you can fire an employee: economic dismissal, and dismissal for personal reasons.

Economic dismissal

Economic dismissal refers to the act of firing an employee for reasons other than the performance of said employee. This can happen if the company:

  • Has financial difficulties
  • Needs to change its workforce to stay competitive
  • Is adapting to technological changes
  • Is changing the missions of the employee, and they are unable to adapt

Since the (somewhat controversial) Loi Travail of 2016, economic dismissal is easier. Indeed, now, the decline in turnover is reason enough to start an economic dismissal procedure.

Dismissal for personal reasons

These can be divided into two more categories: dismissal because of misconduct and dismissal without misconduct.

Dismissals because of misconduct are fairly straightforward. Though, it’s still worth making a difference between:

  • Simple misconduct (errors, tardiness, unjustified absences…)
  • Grave misconduct (explicitly ignoring the employment contract’s stipulations, harming colleagues…)
  • Serious misconduct (intentional misconduct done to harm the employer)

As for dismissals without misconduct, these require another motive:

  • Dismissals for inability (the results of the employee are lacking, heavy dissension between the employee and employer…)
  • Dismissals for disability (the employee is physically unable to fulfill their mission)
  • Dismissals because of a work accident
  • Dismissals for inadequacy

Though, keep in mind that the employee can challenge the dismissal if the motive isn’t solid enough! You would have to compensate the employee if the court finds the motive to be lacking, so it’s a good idea to make sure that dismissal is necessary before going for it.