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Looking through all les annonces d’emploi (the job offers) in France can be a confusing exercise in vocabulary. The technicalities of the type of job listed are hidden behind abbreviations that have very specific legal meanings.
When looking for a job, whether it’s un job à plein temps ou à mi-temps (a full or part time job), it’s important to know the type of contract involved.
In France, There are two main types of contracts: le CDI et le CDD. These two types of contracts are almost always used in their abbreviated form, which can be confusing if you have never seen them before.
CDI : Contrat à durée indéterminée
Most employment in France is under un CDI (a permanent contract). Le CDI means you have stable employment with benefits.
According to le code du travail (the French labor code):
L 1242-13 : Le contrat de travail à durée indéterminée est la forme normale et générale de la relation de travail.
L 1242-13: The permanent employment contract is the normal and general form of the working relationship.
Without le jargon juridique (the legalese), le CDI is the usual contract for work in France.
There is no end date and no minimum or maximum duration for un CDI, but there can be une période d’essai (a probationary period) included in the contract.
The other type of contract is le CDD (the fixed-term contract), and as the name implies it is a contract for a specific amount of time.
CDD : Contrat à durée déterminée
Le CDD specifies the amount of time you will be working with a given company. It is considered an exceptional contract and cannot be renewed once it’s finished.
Le CDD is used in a few different cases including l’accroissement temporaire des activités normales ou saisonnières (temporary increase in normal or seasonal activity) and le remplacement d’un salarié (the replacement of an employee).
There are many cases where un CDD could be used to remplacer un salarié :
Cependant (however), it is strictly illegal to remplacer un salarié en grève (replace an employee on strike).
One interesting difference between these two different types of contracts is le CDI does not have to be written, but le CDD must include a written contract.
It’s easy to get lost in le jargon juridique and the alphabet soup of abbreviations. Just remember the most important difference between le CDI and le CDD is in the last letter:
Indéterminée – Déterminée
Indeterminate – Determinate