How to get a pay rise in France in 2014

If you are working for a company in France and were hoping for a pay rise this year, you are likely to be disappointed. A new study shows tighter budgets mean many companies will not be offering them in 2014. Although it’s not impossible to get one, if you follow these expert tips.

How to get a pay rise in France in 2014
Hoping for a pay rise in France in 2014? You'll have a tough job. Photo: Shutterstock

Getting a pay rise in France can often be a long and difficult task that requires plenty of patience, but in 2014 it might not even be worth asking in many companies.

A new study by the firm consulting firm Deloitte revealed that one out of two French companies has cut its budget set aside for pay rises in 2014.

“It seems the economic situation [in France] will for the first time since 2008 have an impact on the budget for pay rises,” Deloitte concluded after completing its survey of 121 companies and the salaries of 650,000 individuals.

According to the study, the average provisional budget for wage increases in France will be around 2 percent this year, compared to 2.3 percent in 2013.

Before the 2008 economic crisis the budgets for salary increases were around the 3.3 percent mark.

Things look particularly bleak for executives and senior managers in 2014 which could see their pay cut by 0.3 percent, according to Deloitte.

However your chances of getting a pay rise could depend on the size of company you work for, with those in the bigger firms having more hope of a rise.

Deloitte found that companies with more than €500 million of turnover routinely offer increases of between 2 and 2.2 percent, while companies of immediate size (less than €100 million turnover)  offer rises from around 1.9 percent.

However where there is a will there is a way. Thanks to French recruitment firm Robert Half The Local has some key tips for how to go about getting a payrise in France.

1.       Choose the right moment: Obviously that’s easier said than done. But the basic rule is to approach your manager when he is most receptive. And remember French working culture is to respect the hierarchy, so don’t go above your line manager to try to convince his/her boss that you merit a 15 percent pay rise.

2.       Don’t ask too often: Robert Half’s Managing Director Oliver Gelis tells the Cadre Emploi website that it’s only reasonable to ask for a pay rise once a year, unless you have changed jobs. So make the most of your shot at it.

3.       Overachieve: Gelis also says that you’ll need to surpass your targets if you want to have any hope of getting a pay rise. “It is useless to ask for a rise if the objectives have only been reached. They must be surpassed for you to qualify for an increase,” he said.

4.       Be realistic: These are tough times for some companies in France so it’s worth looking at what new recruits in your position are being offered in terms of wages so you know what to expect. Also consult the specialist press and recruitment sites to try to get an idea of what is reasonable.

5.       Are you indispensable?: Gelis says that from an employer’s point of view they will ask the question: “Why increase your salary rather than that of another employee?” “The bosses will be more open to increase the salary of those who are essential to the development of the company,” he said. So you’ll need to collect evidence to present it to your boss to show why you deserve a rise.

6.       Be patient but pushy: The time between you asking for a pay rise and you being given the green light can be weeks if not months in France. So you’ll need to be patient but pushy. If you do get it, it should be backdated, so there shouldn’t be too much need to stress if its taking a while. Well, only if you get your wish, of course. However French managers can be notoriously slow to get back to you on issues such as this, so when they say ‘I’ll get back to you”, make sure you say “when”.

7.       And in the case of a no?: “Sorry the budget for pay rises has been frozen or cut…” may be a common response from your managers in 2014. If that’s the case then Gelis says it’s worth trying to negotiate an increase that kicks in at a later date or on a sliding scale. “Commit to ambitious and measured goals that could be rewarded with a bonus,” the consultant says.

8.       What else can they give you: French company’s could reward you in other ways. Asking for extra holidays would not be laughed at, neither would a request for restaurant or gift vouchers that are common in French firms.

Tell us about your experience trying to get a pay rise in France. Did you succeed?

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.