EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

France: Employers obligation to provide skill development plans or training

Phase: Anticipation
Employers obligation to provide skill development plans or training
Last modified: 31 July, 2019
Native name:

Code du travail

English name:

Labour Code


Labour Code : L.2242-13 to L. 2242-19, L.6111-1, L.6313-10, L. 6315-1, L.6323-1 to L.6323-14 Tax code: article 235 ter C


Since the 1970s, employers have to finance the vocational training system. Furthermore, the legislator and the case law forced them to be more active through several schemes such as the personal training account, the obligation to negotiate so-called anticipatory management of employment and competencies or the commitment to organise a career interview for each employee. According to the Labour Code, the employer is obliged to ensure adaptation of its employees to their workplace (L. 6321-1).

Personal training account (Compte personnel de formation, CPF)

From 1 January 2015, all private sector employees have an personal training account valid from when they first join the labour market until they retire (Labour Code, article L. 6111-1). An employee who changes jobs or alternates between work and unemployment will retain his or her right to training. This arrangement has replaced the Individual Right to Training, (Droit individuel à la formation, DIF)  which was created in 2003 and was rarely used. Every employee receives 24 hours per year worked (for a full-time post) until they reach a threshold of 120 hours, and after they have reached the 120 hours threshold, 12 hours a year until they reach the threshold of 150 hours. If the worker is employed on a part-time basis, the duration of the rights acquired is calculated proportionally to the working time. The account is accessible via an online service

The number of hours stated on the account can be supplemented at the time of use if the holder does not have sufficient time credit to complete the course taken. It can be topped up by the employer, the account holder himself or herself, the professional branches of industry or by the national employment agency. If the holder is unemployed, their account can be supplemented by the state or the regional employment authority in the area which the person lives in. 

In order to be eligible to the personal training account, courses must be training programmes awarding a professional qualification which meet the anticipated needs of the economy in the short or medium term and which benefit the employee by safeguarding his or her career path. The list of such professional qualification (slightly over 40,000 trainings) is set by social partners at national or regional level (through two bipartite bodies : Copanef at national level and Coparef at regional level) and the representatives of each sector (through the bipartite body called Commission paritaire nationale pour l'emploi, CPNE) . These training programmes  will allow participants to obtain a nationally recognised qualification from one or more professional branches of industry. The personal training account can also be used to acquire basic knowledge and skills (such as French language or basic knowledge in math). It can also be used to validate professional experiences (validation des acquis de l'expérience, VAE).

The way in which the personal training account is used will be determined by the employee. The account cannot be debited without the consent of the account holder and is transferable between different jobs.

Since 1 January 2017, the Personal Training Account has been included in the occupational personal accounts (compte personnel d’activité – CPA) that were introduced by the law 2015-994 of 17 August 2015 to enter into force on 1 January 2017 (EurWork, France: Occupational personal accounts planned for 2017, 13 September 2015). Next, the law 2016-1088 of 8 August 2016, which deeply reformed labour law, defined the content of this account and its operating procedures. According to the article L. 5151-1 of the Labour Code, the objectives set out in the CPA are 'to strengthen the autonomy and freedom of action of its holder and to secure his professional career by removing obstacles to mobility'. A CPA may be opened starting 1 January 2017, by any person aged 16 or over who is employed, is looking for a job or is accompanied by public employment services in a career orientation and integration project. The CPA contains training entitlements on a new account launched on 1 January 2017 (Citizen Engagement Account/Compte engagement citoyen), and two existing accounts:

  • The 'Arduous Work Account' (compte personnel de prévention de la pénibilité - C3P), created by Law No. 2014-40 of 20 January 2014 guarantees the future and the justness of the pension system (EurWork, France: Green light on implementing the arduous work account scheme, 25 July 2016). 
  • The 'Personal Training Account' (CPF) allows people aged 16 or over to acquire training entitlements that will be enrolled in an account which remains valid throughout their working lives. This account will be extended to all workers, including individuals who are self-employed and public servants, in January 2018.

Career interview (Entretien professionnel)

All employees are entitled to a ‘career interview’ at least every two years (Labour Code, article L. 6315-1). It allows employees to consider their career development in terms of qualifications and jobs. Every six years, the employer has to produce a written appraisal of all employees’ careers and in enterprises with 50 or more employees, this document will be used to check whether the employee has benefited from sufficient training. The document is sent to the bipartite body in charge of managing the professional training at sectoral level (OPCA); if not, a bonus of 100 hours (130 hours for part-time employees) will be automatically added by the OPCA to their individual training account. 

Commitment to financing vocational training

Employers contribute to the funding through an earmarked contribution (Tax Code, article 235 ter C) to public training funds. The law 2014-288 of 5 March 2014 on vocational training, employment and social democracy put an end to a financing system that was based on an obligation for companies to make financial contributions to vocational training. Since the reform, the employers’ contributions had been replaced by a single, compulsory contribution; this is 1% of payroll costs for businesses with more than 10 employees, and 0.55 % for those with fewer than 10. Companies with 10 or more employees can pay a reduced contribution of 0.8% if they agree to allocate 0.2% of payroll costs directly to the individual training account scheme. The contribution can also be lowered to 0.8% in enterprises that employ between 10 and 300 employees if the industry-wide agreement for their sector provides for an equivalent arrangement.

Anticipatory management of employment and competencies (Gestion prévisionnelle des emplois et des compéteces, GPEC)

The law applies to:

  • companies or groups with at least 300 employees, and 
  • companies or groups based in the European Union employing over 1,500 employees with at least one establishment or undertaking employing 150 employees in France (Labour Code, L.2242-13 to L.2242-19).

There is an obligation for the employer to launch negotiations on corporate strategy and its foreseeable effects on employment every three years. The list covers a wide range of topics.

  • the introduction of an 'anticipatory management of employment and competencies' scheme, on which the works council is informed, and which includes supporting measures such as training, validation of prior work experience, skills assessment and support for occupational and geographical mobility;
  • if applicable, the conditions of internal occupational or geographical mobility; if such a scheme has been introduced by collective agreement in the company, it has to be subject to a specific chapter in the GPEC agreement;
  • the overall guidelines for the next three years about vocational training and the objectives of the training plan, in particular categories of employees and jobs on which the plan is primarily focused, and skills and qualifications that are to be acquired during the three year plan. The agreement may also stipulate the terms of the additional rights allocated by the employer on the training personal account of its employees;
  • the predictable use of different types of employment contracts, of part-time work and traineeships and the measures taken to reduce the use of precarious forms of employment for the benefit of open-ended contracts;
  • the conditions on which subcontractors are informed about strategic guidelines of the company that might have an effect on their profession, employment and skills.
  • the career development of union representatives and the exercise of their duties (since 2017).

The outcome of the negotiation has to be assessed at the date of expiry of the agreement.

Negotiations may also cover: 

  • methods used for collective dismissals on which the works council is informed and consulted;
  • the qualification of categories of employment threatened by economic and technological developments;
  • procedures for association with subcontractors on the anticipatory management of employment and competencies scheme;
  • conditions under which the company takes part in actions on the anticipatory management of employment and competencies at the territorial level.
  • implementation of the mobility leaves under the terms planned by article L. 1237-18 of the Labour Code (since 2017);
  • the training and sustainable integration of young people into employment, the employment of older workers and the transmission of knowledge and skills, the prospects for the development of apprenticeship programmes, as well as the arrangements for the reception of apprentices and trainees and the improvement of the working conditions of older employees (since 2017).
  • implementation of the 'generation contract' within the company if there is no separate company-level agreement on this issue. In companies with at least 300 employees, such agreements have to be concluded to set conditions on the employment of young workers and for maintaining the levels of older staff. If no agreement could be reached, the employer is required to set up an action plan. 


There have been several attempts to assess the impact of the policy initiatives discussed above. With regard to the negotiation of the GPEC agreements, it was found that the number of new agreements has been declining from 540 signed in 2011 to 494 in 2012, 385 in 2013 and 3 in the first quarter of 2015. According to an assessment by the Ministry of Labour this trend highlights that the scheme operates more on a routine basis after the peak in 2011, due to a renewal of agreements concluded in 2008. Furthermore, companies may also merge the negotiation on GPEC with negotiations on the so-called generation contract or maintaining older workers in employment. Otherwise, 9 agreements were signed at sectoral level  since June 2013 and some 200 GPEC initiatives were identified at territorial level.

Cost covered by
  • Companies
  • Employer
Involved actors other than national government
  • Public employment service
  • Regional/local government
  • Works council
  • Other
Involvement others
External assistance, mediator
No, applicable in all circumstances
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