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Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure FR-2013-27/2452 Updated – measures in France

Partial activity

Activité partielle

Country France , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 01 July 2013
Context COVID-19, Restructuring Support Instruments
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Employment protection and retention
– Income support for people in employment (e.g., short-time work)
Author Frédéric Turlan (IRshare) and Eurofound
Measure added 23 June 2022 (updated 01 April 2023)

Background information

Partial activity is a tool at the service of the public policy of prevention of economic redundancies which allows the employer in difficulty to have all or part of the cost of the remuneration of his employees covered. Partial activity is aimed at all employees who suffer a reduction in pay due to:

  • a reduction in the working hours in the establishment or part of the establishment below the legal working hours; or
  • a temporary closure of all or part of the establishment.

Requests for partial activity are formulated by employers if the drop in activity is caused by one of the reasons referred to in Article R. 5122-1 of the Labour Code, including that of circumstances of an exceptional nature, which is applicable in the COVID-19 crisis.

It is possible to implement partial activity when the reduction or the temporary suspension in the activity is due to:

  • the economic situation
  • supply difficulties
  • a disaster or weather conditions of an exceptional nature
  • the transformation, restructuring or modernisation of the company
  • or any other exceptional circumstance such as the loss of a principal client

Content of measure

The principle is to compensate earning losses experienced by workers due to the reduction in their working time under the legal, conventional or contractual duration (within the limit of 1,000 hours per year and per worker) while helping employers to fund this compensation. 

Allowance Workers are granted an hourly differential, paid by the employer, equal to 70% of their gross hourly wage (approximately 84% of the net hourly wage). In any case, their remuneration cannot go below the statutory minimum wage. There is nothing to prevent an employer from compensating its employees in excess of 70% of gross salary if they can/wish to do so or if a collective or company-level agreement envisages such a measure. Workers placed under the partial activity scheme can benefit from training. In this case, the compensation is increased to 100% of the net hourly wage. The employer receives an allowance jointly from the state and the unemployment insurance body.

During partial activity, the employment contract between the employee and the employer is only suspended. Before placing its employees under partial activity, the company must ask the labour inspectorate for authorisation. Partial activity is allowed for a maximum period of 6 months, with the option to renew once. 

Consultation Before implementing partial activity, in companies employing more than 50 workers, the employer has to consult the employee representatives on the economic reasons, the activities concerned, the levels and methods of reduction in working hours, the training activities considered. If there is no employee representative in the company, employees have to be informed about the implementation of partial activity in the company.

Partial activity during the COVID-19 pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government issued ordinances to allow derogation to the current partial activity rules and to enlarge it in order to avoid redundancies. The partial activity has been extended to new categories of workers and to groups that are normally excluded (public companies, individuals who work from home). As a result, the short-time working scheme covers all employees of the private sector.


The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

28 December 2022

A decree of 28 December 2022 completes the long list of successive adjustments made to the two common law and long-term partial activity schemes. The text does not bring any major changes, but perpetuates temporary measures taken during the health crisis linked to the COVID-19 epidemic and secures the recovery of unduly paid sums.

Use of measure

From 2015 to 2019, between 25,000 and 50,000 employees were placed in partial activity on average each month. The scheme was mainly used by the industrial sectors, which accounted for 54% of the workforce in partial activity on average between 2015 and 2019, compared with 18% of private salaried employment. As partial activity was mainly used by industry, particularly the automotive sector, it was predominantly male (74% on average between 2015 and 2019, compared with 55% of male private-sector employees) and concerned mainly manual workers (68% and 27% respectively).

The health crisis has led to a change in the scale of the system. Partial activity concerns 6.7 million employees in March 2020 and up to 8.4 million in April, at the peak of the first lockdown. In the summer, despite the relaxing measures and the lifting of many restrictions, more than one million employees are still in partial activity.

Compared to the pre-crisis situation, the sectoral structure of employees placed in partial activity is distorted. The complete cessation of activity in certain sectors, such as accommodation and catering and household services, has resulted in a doubling of the weight of mainly market services: it has risen from 30% in February 2020 to 65% in March, and thus exceeds its share in private salaried employment.

In 2020, partial activity thus affected all employee profiles. The change in the sectoral structure of partial activity brings the profile of employees placed in this scheme closer to that of all private sector employees.

More information can be found in the ERM legal database .

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Employees in standard employment
Workers in non-standard forms of employment
Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Employers' organisations
Public employment service
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Consulted Consulted
Form Direct consultation outside a formal body Direct consultation outside a formal body

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Social partners jointly
  • Main level of involvement: Peak or cross-sectoral level


Social partners may be involved at company-level to agree about the partial activity scheme through a company-level collective agreement.

Views and reactions

The scheme which aims to avoid job losses is highly supported by social partners.


  • 01 February 2009: Calavrezo, O., Duhautois, R., Walkowiak, E. (2009), The Short-Time Compensation Program in France: An Efficient Measure against Redundancies? Centre d’Études de l’Emploi, Document de travail 114, February (
  • 23 November 2010: Eurofound (2010), Extending flexicurity – The potential of short-time working schemes: ERM Report 2010, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg (
  • 28 July 2017: DARES (2017), L'activité partielle en 2015 (
  • 10 June 2020: Information on partial activity (or partial unemployment), entry into training for job seekers and subsidized contracts (DARES) (
  • 17 June 2020: DARES (May 2020), Activité et conditions d'emploi de la main d'oeuvre pendant la crise sanItaire COVID-19 (
  • 25 June 2020: Morvan, P. (2020), Restructurations en droit social, 5ème édition,Lexi Nexisis (
  • 31 August 2020: Dispositif exceptionnel d’activité partielle 28 March 2020 (
  • 09 September 2020: COVID-19 : le Gouvernement s’engage pour apporter des solutions aux parents qui doivent garder leurs enfants (
  • 20 April 2021: DARES (2021) En 2020, l’activité partielle a concerné tous les secteurs et tous les profils de salariés (
  • 16 March 2022: ILO, COVID-19 and the world of work, Country policy responses (accessed on 30-04-2020) (
  • 01 June 2022: Le chômage partiel (
  • 02 August 2022: Government's website on partial activity  (
  • 28 December 2022: Décret n° 2022-1665 du 27 décembre 2022 relatif à l'activité partielle et au dispositif spécifique d'activité partielle en cas de réduction d'activité durable (


Eurofound (2022), Partial activity, measure FR-2013-27/2452 (measures in France), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.