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Life Stages: Work and Professional Life

The minimum age for employment in France is 16. Employment rates among the 18 to 25 age group have declined compared with the rest of Europe. However, the employment rate of the 30 to 54 age group rose nearly 20 percent at the close of the 20th century.

The French Way

In a departure from the past, French workers generally do not stay in the same job or profession on a long-term basis and, except in the civil service, a great deal of job mobility exists in the French economy.

The French government mandates a 35-hour workweek. Work hours generally last from between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. to between 5:30 and 7 p.m., with a one-hour lunch break.

Finding full-time, long-term employment in France remains rather difficult. The service sector employs most of the workforce and women represent about half of that workforce.

Challenges for Women

Even though France has strict laws regarding gender equality, many women face various disadvantages in the job market. Many of them find themselves having to work part time, especially after bearing children. The presence of many highly accomplished female professionals in various sectors hasn’t made an appreciable difference in the lives of most women, whom society steers or sidetracks into female-specific sectors. French women earn one-third less than men on average.

The retirement age for those covered by the labor law is 60. Many companies do not have a mandatory retirement age and exhibit a reluctance to hire people older than 50.