What’s an exclusivity clause in a French employment contract?

Understanding French employment contracts

Employers in France have a way of making sure that an employee is focused on their company alone: the exclusivity clause. But what is it, and when should you go for it?

What’s an exclusivity clause?

Normally, freedom of work is one of the fundamental freedoms of an employee, so it should be possible to have 2 different employment contracts at the same time. However, an employee should also be focused on their job and not create additional competition to their employer.

This is somewhat contradictory. As such, it eventually became possible for employers to include an exclusivity clause in employment contracts. This means that employees are not allowed to have work for another employer as long as they work for you. Though, there are certain conditions that must be met in order for this clause to be valid.

What are its limits?

As mentioned earlier, a few conditions have to be met in order for this clause to be valid. Indeed:

  • The clause must be explicitly written in the employment contract
  • The reasons behind this clause must also be written.
  • If the employer wants to modify an existing contract to insert this clause, he can’t do that without the consent of the employee.
  • The contract has to define precise limits to this exclusivity (for example, the employee only being forbidden to seek employment from other employers in the same field).
  • The clause must be necessary to protect the interests of the company.
  • It has to be justified by the nature of the job.
  • The broadness of this clause must be reasonable considering its objectives.