Understanding Night Shift Regulations in France: A Comprehensive Guide (2023)

In the realm of employment, particularly concerning night shifts, it is imperative to delve into the legalities and nuances that govern this aspect of work. In France, the guidelines surrounding night work are well-defined, aiming to strike a balance between the needs of businesses and the protection of workers. Let's explore the intricacies of night shifts as outlined by the Direction de l'information légale et administrative.

The Justification for Night Work

Night work is justified by the necessity to ensure the continuity of a company's operations. However, it is crucial to note that it should be exceptional and not the norm. The duration of a night shift is set at a minimum of 9 hours, with variations depending on the sector.

Sector-Specific Regulations

General Case

In most sectors, the collective agreement determines the period of night work, typically lasting 9 consecutive hours, starting no earlier than 21:00 and ending no later than 7:00. This period includes the interval between midnight and 5:00.


In the press sector, the night work period is shorter, spanning 7 consecutive hours, including the interval from midnight to 5:00.

Radio, Television, Cinema

Similarly, these sectors follow a night work period of 7 consecutive hours, encompassing the hours between midnight and 5:00.

Live Entertainment or Nightclubs

Night work in these domains also adheres to a 7-hour consecutive period, from midnight to 5:00.

Retail in International Tourist Zones (ZTI)

Night work in retail within ZTI can commence before 22:00, with the night shift lasting for a minimum of 9 hours, including the interval from midnight to 7:00.

Collective Agreements and Worker Rights

The implementation of night work is contingent on collective agreements within the company. These agreements specify various aspects, including the frequency and number of night work hours, minimum hours, and reference periods. For instance, an employee may work 2 hours twice a week during the night shift.

Protection of Vulnerable Groups

Certain groups, such as individuals under 18, are protected from night work. Exceptions, granted by the labor inspector, may apply in specific sectors.

Duration and Compensation

The collective agreement sets limits on the daily and weekly duration of night work. In the absence of specific provisions, the daily duration should not exceed 8 consecutive hours. Compensation, in the form of compensatory rest and potential salary increases, is mandatory.

Medical Oversight

Before assigning an employee to a night shift, a pre-employment medical examination is mandatory. This examination, conducted by a healthcare professional, may include specialized tests at the employer's expense.

Employee Rights and Refusals

Employees have the right to refuse a switch from day to night shifts without facing repercussions. Certain obligations, such as family responsibilities, can be grounds for refusing night work, and in such cases, employees may return to daytime positions if available.


Navigating the intricacies of night work in France involves a thorough understanding of legal frameworks, collective agreements, and employee rights. By adhering to these guidelines, businesses can ensure a balance between operational needs and the well-being of their workforce.


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