Employment status of Directors

A Director of a French Company is not generally held to be an employee in that particular capacity, instead he or she is held to be solely an officer of the company.

Particular attention should be paid to terminology, for example in legal terms the French word ‘Directeur’ is not a translation of ‘Director’ in the sense of a member of the Board of a Company, but instead ‘Directeur’ would usually be translated as ‘Manager’.

However, a ‘Director’ being an individual appointed to the Board of the Company by the shareholders would normally be translated as an ‘Administrateur’

The importance of these linguistic distinctions flows from the fact that because an ‘Administrateur’ is solely an officer of the company (in French a ‘mandataire social’) then he or she does not have a contract of employment with the Company and thus does not benefit from the extremely protective provisions (for the employee) of French Employment Law.

An ‘Administrateur’ is generally able to be dismissed from his or her position without notice or compensation, although the method of dismissal should not be vexatious.

In many cases, an Administrateur or Director of a French company might also have a contract of employment,but this would be considered at French Law to be totally separate from his or her role as an officer of the company.

Such a contract of employment would relate to a specific function without the role of ‘Director’ and might for example be in his or her capacity as Financial Manager, Sales Manager or H.R. Manager, and this agreement would give the employee the full protection of French Employment Law provisions.

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