France is set for the country’s biggest reform in labour relations for decades. A new law could be on the statute books within months.
Employers and the main unions have reached a deal on changes to the country’s labour laws to make France more competitive.
The two groups have been locked in talks for two days. Three of the five major unions represented said they would recommend signing but two hardline unions said they would not. A majority is needed to move the process forward.
Many French employers say they are scared to hire because if business takes a downturn it is too difficult and expensive to lay off workers.
Some even moved overseas, though one ski-maker has returned much of its production back from Taiwan, saying competitiveness has improved in France.
The agreement is seen as a political victory for President Francois Hollande whose approval ratings have slumped.
A formal accord is expected to be signed next week.
Some analysts have warned the changes are unlikely to bring a quick turnaround in the jobs market. Unemployment is close to a 15-year high.