What does French Law say about Domestic Staff Employment?

  • 1 year ago

Bailet Privileges Services has been managing more than 120 properties around Lake Geneva for 13 years now and we had experienced similar questions and request about domestic hepers, such as gardener, cleaner or even drivers, working in secondary homes in France. Most of our clients are from Middle-East and they naturally compare the maintenance and cleaning cost between France and their home country? Let’s have a look at some of their frequently asked questions !

This article has been drafted in cooperation with Mr. Lucas SEBBAN, Lawyer admitted to the Paris Bar. Mr. SEBBAN regularly defends Middle-East citizens before Franch civil, commercial and criminal courts, notably against accusations of illegal employment of workers or even inhuman working conditions. Confronted with difficult situations suffered by Middle-East citizens when facing Police and Judicial Investigations, Mr. SEBBAN has developed a wealth of experience in advising foreign citizens in order to prevent and avoid such situations.


To hire house staff in France, while you are not a company, you have 3 options :

1) If you are a French tax resident, you can use the CESU system : it is a payment and declaration system for any person who provides you home services such as nanny, cleaner, gardener, ironing, etc.

See : www.cesu.urssaf.fr

In France, any employee shall benefits from social protection and charges, which have to be paid by the employer (you!) to the French Government : CESU is the system that manages declarations and payment of social charges by the employer to the Government.

2) If you are not a French tax resident, you cannot benefit from the CESU service, and you shall follow one of the two below options :

  • You can sign a contract with a French registered company to provide you gardeners, cleaners, nannies etc. In this case, you will be invoiced, as a client, by the French company, who will be itself the employer of the
    people working at your house.
    As you will understand, this is not a cheap option as French registered companies are paying full salary and social contributions to their cleaners, gardeners etc. : for your information, social charges represent an additional 40% on the basic salary paid to the employee. The company is also paying 33% taxes and 20% VAT to the government.
    However, if an accident happens in your house, the staff is protected and so you are as well. Moreover, the responsibility of hiring French nationals as employees or foreigners authorized to work in France will rely on the French registered company, and not on your shoulders.
    As a conclusion, this quite ‘expensive’ option gives you a high degree of legal protection and peace of mind.

  • You can ask a private self-employed person to act as a gardener, cleaner, nany, driver, at your house. In this case, before you send any payment to this person, you shall absolutely receive a detailed invoice with social security number or Siret number of the worker, that ensures you this person is registered as self employed person. This person will legally not be your employee, but your service provider/contractor. Moreover, all payment shall be done by you through wire transfer to protect you against any future claim that this person allegedly never received payment. As a conclusion, this quite option gives you a moderate degree of legal protection that will depend on the honesty and professionalism of the person ‘hired’.

3) You can travel with you domestic staff from your home country.

This is a very easy option as you benefit from dedicated visa for such situation, but this conveys higher legal and administrative responsibility and associated risks.

You nonetheless have to remember important information :

  • If this situation is temporary, i.e. if your staff coming from overseas is only staying in France for a period not exceeding two months, you only have to declare the work of your domestic helper(s) to TPEE Urssaf when you go back to your country. Then, social charges will be calculated, as per the minimum salary in France which is 11.27€ per hour and shall be paid by you to the Government as the employer.

See   :   https://www.tpee.urssaf.fr/tpeewebinfo/cms/lang/fr/page205.html

  • If this situation is becoming permanent, i.e. if your staff coming from overseas is staying in France more than 3 months, you, as employer, have to respect all French employment law requirements. This entails notably, but not exclusively, that you respect the following obligations :
    • Employees should be authorized to reside and work in France and own applicable work permits, before they start working for you ;
    • Employees should be declared by you, as the employer, to French Government (Urssaf) and you shall pay monthly social contributions to Urssaf ;
    • Employees should receive monthly pay slips, drafted by an accountant ;
    • Employees should be provided with good working and living conditions according to French labour law :
    • Employees should be granted labour contracts under French law
    • Employees should be paid salary (by wire transfer to ensure proof of payment)
    • Employees should be granted daily vacations and breaks according to the law
    • Employees should not be deprived of their ID
    • Employees should be able to freely contact their families and move freely in France

As a conclusion, this option is very practical in theory, buts conveys higher legal and administrative responsibility and associated risks.


As a non-French resident, if you hire someone to provide house services, the payment can be done only against an official invoice from the registered company or in accordance with an official payslip that you provide to your employee.


Legal risks :

According to French law, hiring illegal worker is a criminal offence committed by the employer, not the employee. The employer risks a penalty of up to 3 years of jail term and 45,000€ fine, according to section L. 8224-1 of Labour Code.

It means that you, as the employer, can be sued before a French Court by your employee only on the basis that you did not declared him officially as your employee, or that you did not provide him with an official payslip.

As stated before, employees should moreover benefit from correct living and working conditions. In fact, employees can file complaint before the police for alleged inhuman working conditions.

The criteria for inhuman working conditions are the following : no vacations or daily breaks given to employee, no payment of wages by wire transfer or any other provable mean, bad sleep conditions (mattress on the floor or equivalent) provided to employees if they sleep at your place, confiscation of passport or deprivation of visa title, confiscation of communication devices such as smartphones, deprivation of freedom to go and move freely in France.

If such situation is being denounced by an employee to the Police, the employer risks a penalty of up to 10 years of jail term and a fine of up to 1,500,000€.

Property risks :

If the work is not done well, not completed or not executed by your employee, you could be prevented to launch any complaint against your employee if you did not sign a proper contract or did not respect legal obligations as employer.

Similarly, if something is broken or stolen, you cannot complain either and get your damages repared by the employee.

Accidents :

Accidents do happen ! Especially in case of domestic work, you must be considerate about it. Your employee may hurt him/herself with grass cutting machine for example. Your cleaner may fall of stairs at your house, may be fainted, get burnt while working at the kitchen, etc.

As much as it is tempting to hire employees without due paperwork and payment of social contributions, please do remember that it is absolutely forbidden by law and it can cost you much more than you can imagine.

You could be subject to report or denunciation to the Police by your own employee, or by a neighbour that noted a unusual employment activity at your house.

If the Police discover that people are working without due declarations and official payment, this could cause dramatic situations for you – and not for your employee ! Being a foreigner won’t be a valid reason to justify that you ignored the law.

At Bailet Privileges Service, we are strictly following the law and all workers that we bring to your property are officially registered. All the payments are done after checking the work and submission of an official invoice.

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