Why is illegal work called ‘travail au noir’?

Working on the black for ‘cash in hand’ is nothing new – the phrase’s origins lie in after-hours work

There are different theories explaining why non-declared work is called working “au noir” or even “travail au black” in France

One idea is that it comes from the Middle Ages when the first rules were introduced to control working conditions. At that time, employees were only allowed to work during the day, though it was more profitable for employers if they could continue into the evening by the light 

of candles and torches. Thus working au noir was associated with working illegally, dans le noir, in the dark.


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