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France to undergo ‘shock therapy’ to cure red tape

France is renowned for not being the easiest place to run a business or even to work full stop, but this week a series of measures were unveiled that are aimed at making life a lot simpler. But will they be enough?

France to undergo 'shock therapy' to cure red tape
France has become sick under burden of bureaucracy to udergo "shock therapy". Photo: Jallaluna

Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici described the bill as “shock therapy for a France that has become sick from the complexity of regulations”.

The “choc de simplification” (shock of simplification) is the result of French President François Hollande’s pledge to make savings by cutting down on red tape and on Wednesday Moscovici presented the remedy, which contains a series of measures aimed at making life easier for businesses, to the cabinet.

One of the main aims of the bill, which will be music to the ears of most expats, is to cut down on “paperasse” or paperwork in English.

Moscovici wants to limit the number of documents that have to be submitted to authorities.

According to Europe1 radio the bill, aimed more at small businesses, is designed to scrap the requirement to file documents for the creation of commercial companies, reduce the cost of registering a company by 50 percent and to simplify tax credits.

And financial newspaper Les Echos says the smallest companies will be allowed to present “simplified balance sheets”.

Reacting to the announcement of the measures, Bob Lewis, president of the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Paris told The Local the measures were “globally positive”.

“They are at least trying to simplify things. When starting a small business in France there have been too many organizations to deal with and documents to sign when compared to starting a business in other countries, especially the UK.

“The Government needs to work on the image as France is still seen as a difficult place to invest in and do business with, and should demonstrate through its actions that it wants to reduce the costs of employment and the flexibility of labour contracts.

“This will then show that the fundamental desire to create businesses is there.”  

Lewis however criticized the French government for making it easier for certain businesses on the one hand but making life harder for those in certain sectors with a hike in VAT.

“The 3 percent increase in the VAT rate which the restaurant sector is about to suffer will hit demand and unemployment on a large scale in this sector and will affect many of the small businesses in France,” Lewis said.

However Moscovici does aim to make it easier for firms struggling to raise funds and those which are going through difficult periods to get their hands on some financial help.

The reforms include a section aimed at helping to facilitate crowdfunding and another to “improve the treatment of companies in difficulty”.

Perhaps one of the most significant reforms and one likely to be most appreciated by expat business owners, is the move to shift France’s burdensome admin and red tape online.

Moscovici wants to “facilitate relationships between business and government” by the development of online billing and high security systems for online payments.

“This will be seen as very good news for Anglos and expats,” Emily Montes, who works with helping foreigners set up business in France, told The Local.

“A lot of French business people might find that difficult, however, because they are often suspicious of anything to do with the internet.

“People need to read between the lines and find out exactly what these changes will mean for them and what advantages they will get. They should also not expect their accountants to know everything about these measures.”

Unfortunately, despite Moscovici’s measures being long overdue, they are still unlikely to come into force until 2014 and will have to be approved by parliament later this year.

His Finance Ministry at Bercy believes around €15 million could be saved through the measures. There could also be another positive impact.

According to the European Commission, a 25 percent reduction in administrative costs for businesses could see the country’s GDP rise by 0.8 percent in the short term and 1.4 percent in the long term.

And with France just having edged out of recession cutting retting tape seems a no-brainer for Paris.

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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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