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EMPLOYMENT

New job losses hamper French economic revival

France's economic woes deepened on Thursday after the announcement of thousands of new job losses in the car, telecom and airline industries.

A day after auto giant Peugeot confirmed plans to slash its workforce in response to massive losses, telecoms equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent said it would cut 5,000 jobs worldwide by the end of 2013.
 
Air France presented proposals that would eliminate 5,122 positions while pharmaceuticals group Sanofi acknowledged that a planned reorganisation would lead to unspecified job losses, estimated at up to 2,000 by unions.
 
Elected in May on a jobs and growth ticket, President Francois Hollande is struggling to deliver amid the eurozone's financial crisis, which limits his administration's ability to stimulate activity through public spending.
 
Unemployment in France is running at nearly 10 percent of the workforce.
 
Just under three million people were looking for work in June and a further 1.4 million were working fewer hours than they would like, according to official figures.
 
With the jobless total set to rise further, it is not clear what can be done to turn the economy around.
 
The OFCE, an influential economic forecasting body, on Thursday published a study of 11 job-creation initiatives contained in Hollande's manifesto.
 
The study concluded that the plan's net job creation will be largely offset by the 160,000 jobs set to be destroyed by austerity measures designed to bring France's budget deficit down to three percent of GDP by next year and eliminate it altogether by 2017.
 
Hollande has branded Peugeot's plan to cut 8,000 jobs as "unacceptable".
 
But analysts say the auto giant has little option but to proceed with cost cuts after posting a first-half loss of €819 million ($999 million).
 
In its first concrete attempt to intervene in the economy, the government has promised 490 million euros in subsidies to promote purchases of electric and hybrid cars in the hope of boosting the auto sector.
 
The scheme has come under fire from both sides of the political spectrum.
 
Parties to the left of Hollande's Socialists, whose fortunes have been revived by the economic crisis, denounced the plan as derisory when set against the scale of what Communist daily L'Humanite described as a "social emergency".
 
The main right-wing opposition accused the administration of failing to address what it sees as the real problems: French industry's declining competitiveness and a lack of flexibility in labour markets.
 
The cocktail of a deteriorating economy and heightened political divisions has led some to predict an explosion of social unrest.
 
"It's going to be a hot autumn," said Pascal Riviere, a worker at Peugeot's closure-threatened Aulnay plant near Paris. "I think you will see a very strong and widely followed mobilisation against these job cuts."
 
Against this backdrop, the Socialists have been anxious to be seen to be doing everything they can to stem the tide of job losses.
 
Arnaud Montebourg, the specially designated industrial renewal minister, this week asked the European Union to review free trade deals with South Korea over what France considers to be unfair competition from the Asian country's carmakers.
 
"Europe can be open but it can't be given away for nothing," Montebourg said.

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WORKING IN FRANCE

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

Age

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

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. 

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