Growing companies often turn to international talent to build out their capabilities. Hiring independent contractors can benefit many companies that need specialized skills or assistance for temporary projects. Learning about the laws surrounding this worker type will help ensure compliance.
Hiring independent contractors in France
As in many other countries, independent contractors in France come with specific conditions. Understanding the distinction between these categories of workers is essential to avoid penalties.
Independent contractors vs. employees
There are generally 2 factors that signify an employment relationship — the performance of tasks in exchange for remuneration, and a superior-subordinate relationship. Independent contractor relationships can also include the discharge of tasks and remuneration, but the difference between these worker types is the relationship of subordination.
The French Supreme Court recognizes the following aspects of a subordination relationship:
- Performance of duties under the employer’s authority
- Employer’s ability to monitor the execution of duties
- The power to impose repercussions for breaches of duties
An independent contractor relationship will not include this subordination, meaning that independent contractors will have the freedom to execute duties as they see fit and when they see fit. Companies may define the task or project at hand, but they may not monitor performance, define working hours, require a specific location for conducting work, or penalize contractors over the course of project completion.
Penalties for misclassification
If an employer misclassifies employees as independent contractors, they will be required to change employment status and provide minimum benefits. In addition to these penalties, an employer may have to:
- Pay retroactive salary, social security contributions, and taxes with interest.
- Pay additional bonuses or overtime.
- Face criminal penalties of up to 3 years in prison and a hefty fine.
- Be banned from hiring independent contractors for up to 10 years.
How to hire independent contractors in France
The contractor hiring process involves 3 key steps.
1. Carefully conduct interviews.
When searching for independent contractors, ensure you clearly specify this need in the job advertisement. Applicants should understand what type of position they’ve applied for.
While employee interviews typically involve questions about character and company culture, independent contractor interviews should focus on experience and skills. These professionals are not permanent hires, but they must be qualified to complete your project.
2. Create a service agreement.
Your agreement with an independent contractor will not be an employment contract, but you should create a service agreement that includes:
- Scope or description of the project
- Pay rate and associated arrangements
- Termination terms
3. Know how to work with independent contractors.
An important step in engaging the services of independent contractors is understanding how to work with them. Independent contractors should not receive the level of control or supervision that employees do – they are generally free to perform the work according to their own schedule and methods.
Substantial training should not be required of independent contractors. Necessities may include general workflows and any employees they may interact with over the course of the project.
How to pay independent contractors in France
Independent contractors typically receive a lump sum for completing projects or payments upon completing certain milestones, but arrangements can be determined in the agreement. Some independent contractors may offer an hourly rate for their work. Companies are not required to make social security contributions or tax payments on behalf of independent contractors. Self-employed individuals make these payments independently.
Terminating independent contractors
Termination of the independent contractor relationship is generally governed by the terms of the services agreement, and not by employment laws. Both parties must respect any notice period defined in the services contract.
Turn to G-P when hiring independent contractors in France.
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