Leaving Public Service

Leaving Public Service

Leaving Public Service in France

In private sector as well as in public service, you should do everything to make the break-up as smooth as possible.

Why so many efforts to part easily and stay in good terms? Well, the work place is a small world. You may cross paths in the future again. You may work with people he/she knows. Also, just imagine your future boss’ face and opinion if he were to learn that you left your after telling him what you really think of him! Forget anger and resentment, they’ll all be in the past soon.

Good to know

In public or private sectors, he who resigns will not get any unemployment allowances, except in the case of “legitimate resignation”.

The Mutually Agreed Contract Break-up does not exist in the public sector. However, public servants from the 3 public services may request a compensation for voluntary leave (see at the end of this article) which can be granted in some conditions. Such request must of course be made (and granted) before leaving.


Don’t take him by surprise!

Don’t wait for the last moment to announce your departure and make sure your boss is the first to know. If he knew your intensions any other way than by you directly, you’d be in a bad position so keep the secret tight until you tell him.

As soon as your project is mature enough notify your N+1 as well as HR. This is good practice and they’ll probably be sensible to the gesture as they’ll be able to take the necessary steps such as find a suitable replacement. Don’t stab them in the back.

If you don’t want to be perceived as a traitor (don’t forget, we’re talking public service here…) you can always say that an impossible-to-say-no-to opportunity presented itself. A piece of advice: suggest to bring your successor up to speed through a temporary twosome on the job. It’s generally a well-received proposal.

Rules to be followed

Leaving is typically done through a registered resignation letter. Although not mandatory in the private sector it is strongly advised to do it anyway to avoid future disputes.

However, public servants have todo it in writing via registered mail. Basic information has to be in it such as name, wish to resign, leaving date including the notice period, position, since when. You don’t have to motivate your resignation in this letter.

Another big difference with the private sector: the public employer has to reply to you in writing. If he accepts your resignation, he will give you your exit date. Don’t leave before as you would be exposed to a disciplinary measure. If he refuses, you can either reiterate your resignation or seize the appropriate administrative arbitration body.


If you are a not a permanent civil servant you could be considered as a de facto resigned employee (even in the absence of specific request from you) after certain leave of absence, particularly if do not ask for reintegration.

Observe the notice period

In the private sector, the notice period is mandatory, at least most of the time, for permanent contracts. This period depends upon collective & union agreements as well as customs in the said profession.

In the public sector, no notice period is set for the permanent civil servants. On the other hand, intern civil servants and public hospital personnel must request their resignation at least 1 month before leaving their post. As for the non-permanent, the notice period depends upon the years of service.

Good to know

If you resign to go to the private sector you have to inform your employer 1 month before leaving. If your employer determines that that is incompatible with your current position, he can seize the ethics committee who will rule.

False good ideas

Using paid time-off to reduce the notice just does not work, it only extends the notice period by the same amount of time, as would a sick leave. Better try an open compromise with your employer.

Mobility can be a real-unreal resignation

If another position within the public sector is of interest to you, no need to resign, just ask for mobility. Per the law, the maximum notice period is 3 months but it can be 6 months for special positions.

Refusal to a mobility request is exceptional and must be motivated by good service reasons. A no answer past 2 months means agreement.


Leaving the administration on one’s own accord is strictly regulated. May be this is due elements such as guarantee of job and pension for the permanent agents. Negotiation opportunities are not as numerous as in the private sector which does not have any public service obligations.

Voluntary departure compensation in the French public sector – The healthcare example

What is it about?

This compensation can be granted to selected civil servants affected by an organization reshuffle leading to the termination of their position or a change of working place which they would refuse.

Who’s affected?

Those of you who are a civil servant or a local government officer or a contracted agent on the following conditions:

  • Be in active post at the time of the organization reshuffle, e.g. not in any kind of leave.
  • At least 5 years of active service here or in any other public health organization
  • To be more than 2 years away from your minimum retirement date or from the full pension rights opening age.


The agent sends a resignation & compensation request to his superior or HR with all the necessary supporting documents.

This compensation is not a god given. This is conditioned upon acceptance from your office director who is bound to reply within a month of receiving your written request.

The administrative authority will check that you fill all required conditions to get this compensation.

In case of denial the agent can seize the proper joint administration commission.


It is calculated per:

  • Years of service
  • Level of Gross Pay grade the day before the resignation for the permanent agents
  • Gross salary for the contracted agents.

5 – 14 years of service: 12 months of gross pay grade or gross salary

15 – 19 years of service: 16 months of gross pay grade or gross salary

20 – 24 years of service: 20 months of gross pay grade or gross salary

25+ years of service: 26 months of gross pay grade or gross salary

In any case, the maximum gross compensation is 45,743.71 Euros.

Agent obligations

The agent cannot be hired again in the public administration (state, local or health care) in the 5 years following the resignation. Otherwise, he would have to give the compensation money back.

To learn more about leaving public service and negotiate your departure, write to us via our contact form.

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