Subsequent to the passing of the law of August 21, 2007 for the promotion of labor, employment and purchasing power (Loi en faveur du travail, de l'emploi et du pouvoir d'achat - also known as the TEPA law), which instituted a favorable social security and tax regime for overtime performed by employees, it is now the working time mechanism itself that has undergone a major makeover through the law of August 20, 2008 on the modernization of social democracy and the reform of working time.

Although the legal working time remains set at 35 hours a week, there are now numerous exemptions thereto.

Firstly, the maximum number of overtime hours that can be performed annually by the employees (overtime quota) will be set by company - if not, industry-wide - agreement, and it will no longer be necessary to inform or obtain the authorization of the Labor Inspector, even if the overtime quota is exceeded.

Moreover, although the possibility of breaking down an employee's working time in days per year (fixed annual working time in days - conventions de forfait-jours) remains subject to the existence a collective agreement authorizing it, the number of days, which can be worked in a year within the scope of such fixed annual working time, has been amended. Indeed, while it is still required to set a number of days worked within the legal limit of 218 days a year, it will henceforth be possible to go over this limit on an individual basis, provided the days worked over are paid with a surcharge of at least 10%. Failing a company agreement on this point, the maximum number of days that can be worked, including the surplus, will be 235 days.

Lastly, the terms and conditions for managing a time savings accounts (compte épargne-temps) have been revised. The agreement that lays down this system must stipulate the conditions for: (i) the employee and the employer's provisioning of the account, (ii) the management and payment of the rights, and (iii) a potential account transfer in case of a change of employer.

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