SYNTEC – What are your rights, and how much does your employer owe you?

This guide is aimed more specifically towards those who work under the SYNTEC collective agreement, which covers half of the French video games studios according to the SNJV (bosses’ organization). However, even if your studio isn’t operating under SYNTEC, don’t hesitate to ask us questions: we help any worker, whatever the collective agreement and whether they are unionized or not.

This guide was last updated on 23/03/2024

What is a collective agreement?

A collective agreement is a text that complements the Labour Code for a given industry. It is negotiated between bosses and union representatives.

In French law, work is regulated at three levels:

  1. Labour Code
  2. Collective agreements
  3. Company-wide agreements

Historically, those texts applied with a precise order called hiérarchie des normes.
A collective agreement could only be more advantageous than Labour Code provisions, and a company-wide agreement could only be more advantageous than its collective agreement.
But this hierarchy has been rolled back and methodically destroyed by bosses and neoliberal politics, especially since 2016’s El Khomri “Labour law”.

How do I know which one applies to me?

A company has to apply a collective agreement if it belongs to the corresponding industry. On the other hand, if the industry the company declares itself under at creation doesn’t correspond to any of the existing agreements, then it will only apply Labour Code regulations.
Bosses sometimes “get creative” and declare various industries for the studios such as “toys and [board] games” or “animation films”.

However, the most widely represented collective agreement in video games (over half companies in France according to the SNJV) remains SYNTEC.
It is well-known for offering very little over the Labour Code.
For example, its lowest minimum salaries regularly end up lower than the SMIC, rendering them useless (employees cannot be paid lower than the SMIC in France regardless of any agreements).

If your company follows a collective agreement, it must be mentioned:

  • In the employment contract
  • On the pay slip

A list of collective agreements is available on the government’s site.
SYNTEC is designated under the name “Bureaux d’études techniques, cabinets d’ingénieurs conseils, sociétés de conseils“, which is its real name (abbreviated into BETIC). However, most call it SYNTEC out of habit so this is what we’ll continue using in this article.
Its complete text is available on Légifrance and on SYNTEC’s website.

How do I know which company-wide agreements apply to me?

You can ask HR or your employee representatives how to access those documents.

What’s more, since 2017, all company-wide agreements must be stored on Légifrance.

Internship compensation

Compensation is mandatory when an internship lasts longer than two months (or 309h if the internship isn’t done continuously). Minimum compensation is 15% of the Social Security’s hourly ceiling, which (in 2024) means 4.35 € per hour (i.e. 609 € on a 20 days per month basis). Collective agreements may include higher internship compensations, but SYNTEC does not.

Whatever the case, the company may always offer higher compensation than the legal minimum.
For example, some studios offer a SMIC (minimum wage) equivalent.

Dual education salaries

The law sets minimum salaries for this situation as well, depending on your year of studies and age (and calculated based on the SMIC).

Moins de 18 ansDe 18 à moins de 21 ans21 ans et plus
Niveau de formationNiveaux préparés II et IIINiveaux préparés INiveaux préparés II et IIINiveaux préparés I
Année 1583.08 €759.78 €848.12 €971.81 €1,148.50 €
Année 2759.78 €936.47 €1,024.81 €1,148.50 €1,325.19 €
Année 31,024.81 €1,201.51 €1,236.84 €1,413.54 €1,413.54 €

For contrats de professionnalisation, the table is set by the OPCO-ATLAS in this document.

How SYNTEC works


Employees of a company regulated under SYNTEC are divided into two categories (“collèges”):

  1. ETAM: employé·es, technicien·nes et agent·es de maîtrise (employees, technicians and supervisors)
  2. IC: ingénieur·es et cadres (engineers and “cadres”, a specific distinction that originally designated executives and now mostly corresponds to people with various levels of autonomy at work)

Am I an ETAM or IC?

Belonging to one or the other is supposed to be based solely on the prerequisites of your current job.

To do that, the collective agreement aims at separating “less intellectual, non-autonomous and not requiring advanced aducation” jobs (ETAM) from those that require longer studies as well as “higher autonomy and adaptability” (IC).

For example, the agreement states that ETAM jobs should require studies that range from none at all to a BEP, i.e. a 2-year higher education degree.
The IC category assumes that its members have an engineering diploma (5 years higher education).
We’ll get back to that later.

Something that is often repeated and therefore needs to be tackled:


Do also note that the IC category offers non-negligible material advantages, such as:

  • Better severance packages: 33% of a montly salary per year of presence in the company for ICs, whereas ETAMs get 25% of a monthly salary per year between 2 and 20, and 30% afterwards
  • Better sick leave pay: 100% of the salary for 3 months for ICs, whereas ETAMs get 1-2 months (depending on seniority) at 100%, then only 80%
  • Better retirement premiums
  • A better minimum salaries scale (see below)
  • Better job search support financed by specific premiums (see Apec).

The STJV considers that video game jobs do not correspond to ETAM positions as per SYNTEC’s definitions.
However, many companies tend to classify the more insecure jobs (design, art, QA…) as ETAM. This is purely to drive salaries down, since there is no specific advantage in being classified as ETAM.


ETAM and IC categories are subdivided into positions.
Those positions (noted “X.Y”) losely define the hierarchy of employees according to their job, their duties and their experience.
A position is tied to a specific job and not to a person. This means that a particular job description defines the position through which you’re employed, not your skills or your diplomas. In other words, it is possible to be “overqualified” with regards to one’s job’s position as stated by the contract.


Each position corresponds to a coefficient. This number is used to infer the corresponding minimum salary. It is forbidden to be paid less than said minimum salary, which corresponds to full time employment.

Your collège (category), position and coefficient must be included on your pay slips. Those three informations define your “classification”, which in turn is linked to a minimum salary (see table below).

Working hours

If you know your classification, you still need to know how your working hours are decided. First off, French law define a simple basis: your contract should state how many hours you work in a week, and the default should be 35H.
If your contract expects you to work more than 35h a week, it must also include a way to compensate the additional work duration, for example by granting RTT days (Réduction du Temps de Travail, Work Duration Reduction). Any hour worked over the duration stated by the contract is overtime and should be paid extra.

The law also states that no one should ever work over 48H in a week, and that two work days should always be separated by at least 11H of rest.
More information on the legal aspects.

Working time modalities

SYNTEC defines three methods (“modalités”) of working time organisation:

  • Modalité 1 – Standard: basic rules apply. Baseline is 35h a week. Overtime is paid 25% more up until 8h a week, 50% if you do any more.
  • Modalité 2 – Forfait heure ou « réalisation de missions »: baseline is 35h a week with a possible modulation of 10%. This means that you may have to work 38h30 a week with no additional compensation.
  • Modalité 3 – Forfait jour ou « réalisation de missions avec autonomie complète »: working time is accounted on a day basis over the year (220 working days in a year). Any overtime is not counted and people working under that method are expected to adjust their time to complete their missions.


This is the easiest case (“modalité 1”): by default, ETAM workers are supposed to conform to the weekly 35h baseline, as per standard French law.

For ICs

ICs may work under different modalities, but that comes with higher minimum wage (see subsection “Abusive forfaits jours ou heures“).

Holidays bonus

Introduced in article 31 of the collective agreement (see here for the current version), it must at least be equal to 10% of the global paid leave compensation (around 1% of total wages mass).
Every employee must receive one between the months of May and November. It is usually divided equally or proportionally to each employee’s salary.
It must not be included in the base salary.

Commonly-encountered problems

We have encountered a certain number of abusive practices in the industry, and while bosses can sometimes get creative, here are the usual suspects:

Illegal working hours

Since the link between working time modalities and your weekly hour count can be tough to understand, we have seen many contracts that included illegal working hours. If you are under modalité 1, you must work 35H a week, or be granted RTT days if you work more than that per week.

Likewise, in modalité 2, the weekly hours must be stated in your contract. If the modality is not explicitely stated in the contract, then the default remains a 35H work week.

Collective agreement minimum salaries are not respected

First thing to do is check if you are paid at least as much as the minimum wage according to your position in SYNTEC, which as we have seen is not always the case. The minimum pay is as follows:


PositionCoefficientMin. gross monthly salary
1.12301 715 €
1.22401 745 €
2.12751 775 €
2.23101 831 €
2.33551 971 €
3.14002 111 €
3.24502 266 €
3.35002 415 €

Ingénieurs / Cadres

PositionCoefficientMin. gross monthly salary
1.1952 033 €
1.21002 140 €
(under 26 years old)
1052 241 €
(26 years old or more)
1152 454 €
2.21302 774 €
2.31503 201 €
3.11703 577 €
3.22104 419 €
3.32705 681 €

Engineers or similarly qualified personel classified as ETAMs:

The majority of workers in our studios are at least Bac +5 (Master degree equivalent in the US). According to the collective agreement, ETAM status should be reserved for Bac +2 or lower education levels. Here are the guidelines as outlined in the agreement:

PositionMin. gross monthly salaryLevel of education according to the collective agreement
1.*1 558,80 €BEP / CAP / Brevet Professionnel / Brevet de Maîtrise
2.*1 683,75 €Bac / Brevet de Technicien
3.*2 059,80 €BTS

Source: annex 1, page 50

While it is legal to employ someone with a higher level of education in an ETAM position if the qualifications required for their job match those from the table above, we consider that if you paid several thousands of euros to get a Bac +5 diploma from a private school only to get hired at a 1700 € gross salary, you are justified in thinking that either your employer or your school is making you the butt of a joke.

The problem lies in determining if your actual job corresponds to the description linked to your classification. For example, what were the job offer’s (or hiring manager’s) prerequisites? If it requires longer studies, then the job cannot seriously be classified as an ETAM job.

Abuse of forfait jour or forfait heures

The modalities 2 & 3 of working time organisations that we metnioned earlier are supposed to be applied under conditions that are described in chapter 2 of this annex.

  • Modality 2 (“Réalisation de missions”, performing missions): “all Engineers and Cadres may a priori adopt this method if their salary is higher than the plafond de la Sécurité Sociale“, as well as “personel that is authorized to work more than the usual schedule in the limite of 10% must be paid annually at least 115% of the minimum defined for their category in the collective agreement”. Jurisprudence on this modality (see here and here) concludes that one must earn at least as much as the PMSS, but also at least 115% of the minimum laid out by the collective agreement for their rank, whichever is higher.
  • Modality 3 (“Réalisation de missions avec autonomie complète”, performing missions with complete autonomy): “they must […] at least be in position 2.3 of the collective agreement […] or be paid at least 2 times the annual plafond de la Sécurité Sociale” and “personel working under those conditions must be paid at least 120% of the minimum defined for their category in the collective agreement”. The minimum is therefore 120% of the minimum salary in position 3.1, which amounts to a 3490.10 * 1.2 = 4188.12 € monthly gross salary, or 2 times the PSS if you are not in position 3.
ModalitéPositionGross monthly salary must be greater thanAnd greater than
2All3864 €115% of the position’s minimum salary
3Cadre 2.33905.22 €
3Cadre 3.14292.4 €
3Cadre 3.25302.8 €
3Cadre 3.36817.2 €
3Others7728 €120% of the position’s minimum salary

In both cases, you should be Ingénieur / Cadre. To offer modality 2 or 3 to ETAM workers, there needs to be an applicable company-wide agreement at least. If you have any doubt, ask to be shown said agreement.

What can I recover if I was wronged?

If you are not paid adequately, your employer must solve the issue and pay back the difference over the last 3 years.
If you are working under modalities 2 or 3 without the corresponding minimum pay, they must pay back the difference in overtime pay over the last 3 years retroactively.

However, if you signed a contract for a job that requires lower level of education than you have obtained, you’ll have to prove that your job actually requires your education qualifications, which is more complex. This is an ongoing process even for us.

What to do?

Contact us at if you are in one of those situations, we are here to help. Even if you do not want to take action, it is important for us to know where and how the collective agreement is breached. We are already working among several studios to get them to respect the law.

Comptes - Le Syndicat des Travailleurs et Travailleuses du Jeu Vidéo
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