A four-hour crisis jobs summit chaired by President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday ended with a series of measures as well as plenty of criticism.

"/> A four-hour crisis jobs summit chaired by President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday ended with a series of measures as well as plenty of criticism.

" />


Job summit ends with €429 spending plans

A four-hour crisis jobs summit chaired by President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday ended with a series of measures as well as plenty of criticism.

Job summit ends with €429 spending plans
Pôle Emploi

The summit, held as France’s unemployment remains stubbornly at twelve-year highs, brought together union leaders, business representatives and ministers.

“The gravity of the crisis obliges us to make decisions,” Sarkozy told them, according to a text provided by his office.

A package of measures totalling €429 million ($552 million) was announced at the end of the summit.

These included an extra €290 million for training for part-time workers and the unemployed. There was also a pledge to create an extra 1,000 jobs at the state-run employment agency, Pôle Emploi, costing €39 million.

Companies with fewer than ten employees will be exempt from paying social security charges for any new workers aged under 26-years-old. The measure will cost €100 million.

There were no announcements on controversial plans to reduce employers’ social contributions, to be paid for by a hike in VAT. There were also no moves on increasing flexibility by dismantling legislation on the 35-hour-week. Both will have to wait for a televised speech to be given by the president at the end of the month.

Daily newspaper Le Parisien gave its own account of what happened behind closed doors on Wednesday as Sarkozy, prime minister François Fillon and six other ministers met some of France’s biggest union barons.

“I’m well aware that at the end of this meeting we’re unlikely to be agreed on everything,” the newspaper reported Sarkozy as saying, before union leaders weighed in with their own concerns.

Francois Chérèque of the CFDT union was reported as saying it was not possible to create a social “big bang” on the back of an envelope in just three hours. 

“Are you paying the ratings agencies for advice?” allegedly asked Bernard Thibault  of the CGT union. 

“No,” replied Sarkozy. “The main agency is Moody’s. They carry twice the weight of the others who behave like cowboys.”

Thibault later told reporters the measures would have “no real impact on the employment situation today,” with 9.8 percent of the workforce out of a job, a 12-year high.

The head of work institute, l’Institut Supérieur du Travail, said on Thursday morning that the summit was a “piece of theatre.”

“In the sense that everything is programmed and the texts are prepared,” said Bernard Vivier on radio station Europe 1. “The advisers and ministers prepare the summit and then the president arrives to play the principal role for four hours.”

“The point of such a summit isn’t to negotiate but for the government to get a sense of the collective reactions of the social partners and to change their target,” he added.

Socialist presidential contender François Hollande plans to outline the opposition’s economic programme in a speech on Sunday.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


How to get a summer job in France

As the summer holidays approach in France, many employers are looking for seasonal workers - so if you're looking for a summer job, here's how to go about it.

How to get a summer job in France

There are thousands of employment offers in France – a simple internet search for jobs d’été came up with numerous jobs boards offering work in France, while the government-backed Centre d’Information et de Documentation pour la Jeunesse (CIDJ) offers advice and information on all aspects of life for young people in France, including finding seasonal work and summer placements.

Sectors including agriculture, hospitality and tourism are always recruiting in the summer, seeking fruit-pickers, holiday camp workers and serving/hotel staff.

But what are the rules for people seeking summer jobs?

READ ALSO Vendange: What you really sign up for when you agree to help with the French wine harvest


Children from the age of 16 (under certain circumstances, the age limit drops to 14) who are legally resident in France can work as long as they have written authorisation from their parents or legal guardians. A model authorisation letter is available here

Those under the age of 18 cannot undertake certain jobs for health and safety reasons.

In the following circumstances, children as young as 14 or 15 can work during school holidays.

  • The holidays must last at least 14 days;
  • The child must work no more than half the days of the holiday – so, if a vacation period is two weeks, they can work for no more than one of those weeks;
  • The child is given ‘light duties’ that offer no risk to their safety, health, or development;
  • From the age of 15 and if the child has completed their troisieme education, a minor can register for an apprenticeship. 


Salary is usually paid monthly and will have a payslip. For those aged 18 and over, pay will be at least equal to the minimum wage.

 For those aged 14 to 17, who have less than six months’ professional experience, the minimum allowed rate is 80 percent of the minimum wage. For those aged 17 to 18, the rate rises to a minimum of 90 percent of France’s minimum wage.

  • The minimum wage in France is currently €10.85 gross per hour (€1,645.58 gross per month based on a 35-hour week);
  • the employment contract is fixed-term and can take different forms (fixed-term contract, seasonal employment contract, temporary employment contract, etc);
  • Seasonal employees are subject to the same obligations as the other employees of the company and have access to the same benefits (canteens, breaks, etc.).

Under 18s have certain additional protections:

  • between the ages of 14 and 16, during school holidays, employees on any contract cannot work more than 35 hours per week nor more than 7 hours per day;
  • They cannot work at night;
  • Those aged 14 to under 16 working during their school holidays can only be assigned to work which is not likely to harm their safety, their health or development.

Right to work in France

If you’re a French citizen or hold permanent residency in France then you have the right to work, but for foreigners there are extra restrictions.

Anyone who holds the passport of a EU/EEA country or Switzerland, is free to work in France or to travel to France seeking work without needing a visa or work permit.

Most other people will need permission to work in France – even if it’s only for a short period or for casual work such as grape-picking. Depending on your country of origin you may need a visa – everything you need to know about that is here.

In addition to the visa, you may also need a work permit, which is the responsibility of the employer.  To employ anyone in France for less than 90 days, an employer must get a temporary work permit – before the prospective employee applies for a short stay visa. This permit is then sent to the embassy at which the employee is applying for a visa.

If you come from countries including the UK, USA and Canada you can spend up to 90 days in France without a visa – but you may still need a work (convention d’accueil) if you want to work while you are here.

READ ALSO Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in France

Certain countries have specific ‘seasonal worker’ visas on offer, for certain sectors which allows – for example – Canadians to come to France and work the ski season. 

Cash-in-hand jobs

Certain sectors which have a lot of casual workers – for example seasonal fruit-picking – do have cash-in-hand jobs, known in France as marché noir (black market) or simply travail au black (working on the black, or working illegally). 

This is of course illegal and working this way carries risks – as well as the possibility of losing your job if labour inspectors turn up you are also in a vulnerable position. If your employer suddenly decides not to pay you, or make unexpected deductions from your wages, there is very little you can do about it since you won’t have any kind of work contract.