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Hollande promises ‘talent passports’ for foreigners

President François Hollande ended his state visit to the US by meeting some of France's successful exiles. He took the opportunity to announce measures to boost French start-ups including the idea of "talent passports" to attract foreigners.

Hollande promises 'talent passports' for foreigners
President François Hollande gave a speech to the French community in San Francisco in which he promised more help for French start -ups. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

French President François Hollande came face to face with some of his fiercest critics in San Francisco on Wednesday, where he announced measures to favour French start-ups.

On the last day of his visit to the United States, Hollande said that "France must recognize the dynamism of its entrepreneurs".

That meant promoting "the spirit of initiative," he declared before several dozen French start-up leaders gathered at French Tech Hub, a business incubator located in San Francisco, at Silicon Valley's doorstep.

Hollande met with members of the French community including the leader of the group known as "The Pigeons", who had launched a revolt when the president announced plans in 2012 to double capital gains tax to 60 percent, before backing down.

As he toured the Tech Hub, Hollande met Carloz Diaz, leader of "The Pigeons" and the pair were photographed exchanging a hug, which was seized upon by the French media. 

(Europe1 radio: Hollande reconciles with 'The Pigeons')

In October 2012, when "The Pigeons" were formed one of them was quoted as saying: “I’ve never seen people so depressed. They’ve had enough, they are leaving." 

But on Wednesday Hollande took steps to try put that right.

He announced a series of measures that he hopes will boost the chances of start-up companies succeeding in France, including the idea of offering "talent passports" to bright foreigners.

The idea is to attract more foreign creators, innovators and entrepreneurs and enable them to receive French visas more easily.

"Between 5,000 and 10,000 people could benefit from this each year," he said.

Hollande noted that attracting start-up talent means paying at the same level as major companies, "which is not easy when a business is created".

He said that allowing for various share options could help attract top talent.

"France must recognize the dynamism of its entrepreneurs" and promote "the spirit of initiative" he said before several dozen French start-up leaders gathered at French Tech Hub, a business incubator located in San Francisco, at Silicon Valley's doorstep.

The French president also promised to launch a new push for crowdfunding, with the adoption of a rule next month that will promote the financing method, popular in the United States.

"A project can collect up to a million euros in loans via crowdfunding" for the creation of businesses, he said.

Hollande also called on the president of French employers union MEDEF, Pierre Gattaz, who was accompanying him, to encourage major French firms to make offers to students at the end of their studies similar to what is being done in California.

This would allow students to "have the job security to then develop their own business," he said.

He made no mention of his views on the tax optimization strategies used by multinational Internet giants such as Google, which he described as "unacceptable" a week ago, vowing that France would not continue to tolerate them.

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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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