France is a very social country and promotes Work-Life balance. A key issue for many workers in France is flexible working time, in order to achieve a work-life balance. Negotiating a work/life balance can enable parents to reconcile their work with their family life and, women, in particular, to participate in the labour market. It can also allow workers to take leave to participate in education or training or to take up an interest, hobby or leisure pursuit. This means that workers can reorganise their working lives and working hours around shorter days, weeks, months, or even years.
A law to reduce the statutory working week in France from 39 hours to 35 hours was introduced in 2000, for companies with more than 20 employees and, in 2002, for companies with 20 employees or fewer. Studies by the Office of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) suggest that France is below the OECD average when it comes to hours worked and consequently French employees have above average leisure time on an average day. Approximately 15 hours per day are dedicated to personal care and leisure (eating, sleeping, etc).
There are 11(or 13 in some provinces) national holidays in France. Most offices, businesses and shops in France will close for a Public Holiday.
There following are fixed (same every year) Public Holidays in France:
1st January – New Year Day
1st May – Labour days
8th May – Victory day
14th July – Bastille Day
15th August – Assumption Day
1st November – All Saints Day
11th November – Armistice Day
25th December – Christmas Day
26th December – Boxing Day (only in the Moselle, the Bas-Rhin and the Haut-Rhin).
The following are changeable Public Holidays in France: Good Friday (Easter Friday) and Easter Monday are usually around March –April time, Ascension Day (40 days after Easter Sunday, always on a Thursday – May time); Pentacost/Whit Sunday (7th
Sunday after Easter – May time); Monday following Pentacost/Whit Monday – May time. During May, there is a holiday nearly every week, therefore, you will need to check in advance.
Working hours are generally Monday to Friday from 8 am or 9 am to 12:00/12:30 and then from 14:00/14:30 to 18:00. However, as always, it depends where the organisation is located, for example, the long lunch break is unusual in Paris and other bigger cities.
Going for drinks on Thursday and Friday is promoted. Most offices have drinks after 4 pm on Fridays at work as a part of office culture. Weekend getaways are a way of life here. Many people finish their work on Friday and leave for going outside the city to enjoy some peace and quiet in the countryside. As students, they have parties every Thursday as students leave on Friday to go to their homes.
French people usually are one of the biggest ambassadors of work-life balance.