French subsidiary if a Chinese company asking for previous salary - legal? If yes, can they legally ask to see the contract?

There’s a big Chinese company whose French subsidiary I interviewed for, and have accepted the offer unofficially (unofficially meaning they emailed me the outline of the contract, we discussed on the phone and I accepted the offer, but I didn’t sign any contract yet). Now, after they proposed me the salary and we agreed upon and I accepted it, they’re asking me the detail of the salary from my last job.

My question is: can they legally do that in France, and if yes, am I legally supposed to answer this question? If I don’t answer it, am I risking my contract ? The salary they proposed is 12000€ higher than my previous salary. Sorry to state this fugure, but my fear is if they reduce the proposed salary after knowing this.

Also, they wrote that they need this info just for the record in ther system, but I wonder if they can actually ask to see the last contract? You see, if not, I could just make up any salary and tell them, how couls they verify that? I’m not saying I’ll do so, but I still am trying to see why they need the last salary, and what proofs they need.

I would say their job offer - their terms.
Until the offer is formalised in writing, they can ask you almost anything (legal) and I could not see that asking for proof of your previous salary and sight of your contract for verification would constitute any breach of employment law in France.
When I employed people, I would happily indicate an intention to employ subject to any conditions but if they were not met to my satisfaction, I would be equally happy to withdraw from making a formal offer of employment in writing accompanied by a contract requiring signature by both parties.
Lying to a prospective employer is a big no-no and if discovered later, would almost certainly be a substantial and quite legal reason to end the contract forthwith.

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@Graham_Lees Thank you for your answer! It’s, however, not a question of lying to a question, but rather a question the prospective employers can ask or not in the first place, legally. This article written by a French lawyer says, for example, that, "Under Article L.1221-6 of the Labour Code, information requested by an employer to a prospective employee is strictly limited to matters linked to the position and must aim at assessing his or her professional skills. " See, the phrase “matters linked to the position” is very subtle, and I’m not sure if the previous job contact and the sorresponding salaries are these “matters”. Intuitively, it doesn’t sound correct to ask for the previous contract, and the code above also seems to satisfy this. Now this could be a delicate legal issue. In the US, in many states, the employers are prohibited from asking past salaries.


Whether or not the employer (or anyone else) can legally ask a question - you definitely mention (possibly) making up a figure - and that would never be a correct course of action. :zipper_mouth_face:

Usually the new employer is simply trying to confirm the previous position, responsibilities and salary. Your previous employer is bound by data protection and will not be able to reveal much more than “yes he worked for us” without your permission but, obviously, you can.

Can they ask? Almost certainly yes (though I’m not even an expert in UK law, much less French).

Can you refuse? Again almost certainly yes - but you do want the job, right?


Yes, they can ask, No, you are not obliged to comply, but as Paul says if you want the job I’d send them my last 3 payslips which is considered a normal request nowadays.
As mentioned below a simple statement signed from your previous employer confirming dates of employment and your position is sometimes enough.


Au regard de la loi, les fiches de paie des anciens employeurs n’entrent donc pas dans cette catégorie d’informations obligatoires. « Un recruteur peut cependant demander les trois dernières fiches de paie, explique Thibaud Chalmin, recruteur chez Elysées Consultants. Cela arrive souvent quand il veut vérifier que l’ancien salaire du candidat est bien celui qu’il prétend. Rien n’oblige à fournir cette information, mais si le candidat refuse, on peut imaginer qu’il a peut-être menti. » « On peut aussi demander à un recruteur ce qui le motive ou l’inquiète, ajoute Nicolas Pavesi, recruteur chez Lincoln Associates et co-auteur du guide Recherche d’emploi : secrets de pros. Parfois, il veut juste s’assurer qu’un candidat a bien occupé un poste comme il le prétend et une simple attestation d’employeur, facile à obtenir, suffit. »

I agree.
Asking to see the previous contract under which you worked would be considered linked to the position and as an aide to assessing the candidate’s professional skills, as might salary, if only in terms of assumptions over seniority and depth of knowledge - both quite rightly under review when considering an offer of employment to a prospective employee at a considerably increased salary.
In the face of resistance to provide these evidential pieces of information, it might be safer and quite justifiable for the prospective employer to reconsider options and maybe make an offer to a different «more compliant» candidate.
Well, I would anyway :wink:
Don’t overlook the fact that they might be forgiven for thinking that if you are non-compliant or “difficult” now, what does the future hold. That would be a very powerful influence on their eventual decision. Their very likely supposition would be that you have something to hide by your resistance, that you pose too much of a risk and that there are many more equally employable “fish in the sea”. Better not to employ you than later have to fight it out when they may be in a less commanding position.

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Sorry for this late reply and apprecation for your answers. I told them my prevous salary and no further questions were asked.