‘I love business’: French PM woos employers

A day after naming a new reformist cabinet French PM Manuel Valls faced members of the country’s powerful employers' union, who gave him a standing ovation after telling them "I love business" and that France and Germany needed to stay close.

'I love business': French PM woos employers
French PM Manuel Valls is applauded by employer's union chief Pierre Gattaz. Photo: Eric Piermont/AFP

Traditionally France’s Socialist party and the country’s biggest and most influential employers' union Medef do not see eye to eye.

But perhaps in a sign of the changing times, France’s Socialist PM Manuel Valls was given a warm welcome on Wednesday when he opened Medef’s annual conference.

Since January’s change of tack by President François Hollande, the president and his Prime Minister have been making more effort to cosy up to the likes of Medef, much to the anger of the traditional party backers among the trade unions.

On Tuesday Hollande sent out a strong message by naming an ex-banker as Economy Minister to replace left-wing rebel Arnaud Montebourg and Valls continued the charm offensive on Wednesday.

“I love business,” Valls declared. "France needs you". His words were met by rapturous applause.

The Prime Minister also spoke of the need for a new unity between the left and the world of business.

"I know it is the custom to oppose the (political) left and the business world, it's an old tune. But I deeply believe that our country needs to shake off this position, these role-plays that we are so used to," he said.

"It has made us lose too much time, and our country is dying because of these positions."

According to him “France is facing a crisis of confidence and identity” and it needs to unite like "other countries do”.

The French president is hinging everything on his “Responsibility Pact” which will see firms benefit from €40 million worth of tax breaks in the hope that they will recruit 500,000 new staff over the next three years.

With Medef so far giving no guarantees that companies will start hiring the Socialist government has come under fire from the left for pandering to the world of business when it should be getting tough.

“It is absurd to speak of gifts made to businesses,” said Valls insisting that France has a competitiveness problem.

But firing a message to those seated in front of him Valls said: “The French people expect business leaders to act responsibly,” said Valls. “They expect employers to invest, to hire and take on apprentices and pay employees better. We have to do more and quicker."

The Prime Minister also said that taxes, both on households and businesses have risen too high in France and “it’s no longer possible”.

Valls also once again brought up the possibility of reforming France’s sacred 3,000 page labour code and in a clear dig at Montebourg, he stressed the need for France and Germany to stay close.

"Now more than ever, Europe needs strong and lasting ties between France and Germany," he told the gathering.

"I reject any absurd face-off with Germany," he added.

The PM’s words and actions over the last couple of days have clearly gone down well with Medef.

On the subject of the cabinet reshuffle Medef’s leader Pierre Gattaz commended Valls’s courage and said: “We need people [in the government] who do not see bosses as enemies or exploiters.”

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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.