The labour code is a legal document that lists all the legal texts governing the professional world. The aim of these laws is to govern relations between employees and managers, in order to improve working conditions, by setting out the rights and obligations of each party. Labour law includes regulatory texts relating to contracts, working hours, holidays, overtime, training, etc. The implementation of these laws has made it possible to improve the working conditions of employees and to create a healthier climate in which each participant is informed of his or her rights and obligations. This article provides an overview of the main issues addressed by the Labour Code, and presents the obligations of HR managers in terms of informing employees of their rights.

What does the Labour Code include?

The Labour Code establishes the laws that govern the employment contract and collective relations within the company. It provides protection for both employees and managers, granting rights to each and subjecting them to obligations. These laws address all work-related issues, such as :
  • The employment contract
  • Safety and health at work
  • Hygiene of the professional environment
  • Continuing education and employment
  • The individual and collective relations between the different actors of the company
  • Working hours and hours of work
  • Wages and salaries
  • Holidays.

The contract

The employment contract is undoubtedly one of the key elements in the relationship between employer and employees. The Labour Code explains the content of each clause, and deserves to be consulted before a contract is signed. Certain specific clauses must be clearly understood before committing oneself, such as the geographical mobility clause, exclusivity, non-competition, forfeiture or confidentiality clause.


Working hours are set by rules that must be explained to new employees by HR managers. Compliance with working hours is an obligation for all employees, even if they are not always specified in the employment contract. Employees must be punctual and not fall behind schedule, otherwise they may be dismissed for serious misconduct or given a warning. The working hours practiced by companies may be collective or variable. In the case of a collective timetable, it must be posted in the workplace. However, in companies with flexible working hours, employees have the possibility to choose the arrival and departure times and the break time.

The trial period

Stipulated in the employment contract, the trial period allows the employer and the employee to check that the activity is carried out under good conditions. Its duration must be specified, it is renewable and can be terminated by the employee or by the employer without any obligation to give reasons. At the end of the trial period, the employee is definitively hired, according to the terms of the employment contract.


Every employee is entitled to paid leave at the rate of 5 weeks per year. The dates of these leaves are to be negotiated with the employer, and cannot be chosen unilaterally.


The employer may require an employee to work overtime, provided that the total working time does not exceed 10 hours per day and 48 hours per week, i.e. a total of no more than 220 hours of overtime per year. An employee who works overtime must be given compensatory time off in return. It is important to note that the first 8 hours of overtime are increased by 25% over the usual hours, and that beyond 8 hours the increase is 50%.

Social security coverage

Social security coverage is a right for every worker, it protects employees in the event of illness, disability or unemployment. This benefit is financed by compulsory contributions from employers and workers.

The rules of procedure

The rules of procedure are a document that includes all the provisions governing the life of the company. Its implementation is mandatory for companies with more than 20 employees, and it must be posted in a way that is accessible to all employees. The rules specified in this document relate to the health and safety of employees, evacuation arrangements in the event of danger, and usage reminders such as smoking bans, for example. The obligation to comply with the rules of procedure is often stipulated in one of the clauses of the employment contract.

Respect for employees' rights, who to contact?

The rights of employees, stipulated in the labour code, are there to protect them and enable them to defend themselves in the event of a violation of one of these rights. It is therefore possible to seek redress by going to the courts, through the labour inspectorate. This is a specific body created by the Labour Code, which is responsible for ensuring compliance with the law and the rights of employees within companies. In the event of a violation of their rights, employees can defend themselves by turning to the labour inspectorate, staff delegates, the works council or trade union delegates, who are there to protect the interests of their colleagues.

Informing employees about their rights

Labour law is more topical than ever, and at the heart of the concerns of decision-makers. As legislation is constantly evolving, it requires the establishment of a regular monitoring system to keep up to date on the foundations of labour law. To this end, HR managers must maintain effective internal communication and organise training courses on labour law in order to keep their employees informed. Through labour law training sessions in the form of workshops or interactive games, it is possible to popularise the legal texts relating to employees' rights, including sexual harassment, gender-based conduct, health and safety at work, and the right to training.