Towards the end of the notorious French payslip

Everyone who has ever worked in France will have commented on the extraordinarily complex French payslip at one time or another, but things should be about to get a little simpler.

Towards the end of the notorious French payslip
France is making life simpler for businesses, including making the payslips more readable. Photo: Screengrab BFMTV

In its ongoing drive to make life simpler for business, the latest element of paperwork the French government is turning its attention to is the payslip.

The “bulletin de paie” as French payslips are called has proved to be an enigma for most workers in France, both French and foreign alike.

The reason given to explain its complexity is the sheer number of laws and agreements in France that shape the relationship between employers and employees.

“Complex laws means complex payslips,” as one business advice website put it.

“For institutional and cultural reasons the French payslip “beats all records for complexity”, read a report handed to the government this week.

The French pay slip can stretch to forty lines of text and lists numerous specific deductions and figures that just looks like gobbledygook at first glance.

There’s “coefficient” and “Siret” numbers, mentions of “convention collectifs”, figures for “cumul brut” and “cumul imposable” and figures all over the place.

Then there’s the list of the all the “social charges” that are deducted from your salary, such as for “Assurance Chomage Tranche A” and Assurance Chomage Tranche B”.

SEE ALSO: France cuts more red tape to make life simpler

While it might be a good idea to see exactly where your hard-earned money is going, you're not quite sure in which pot it is going, and you get the impression you’ll have nothing left by the time you reach the “Net a Payer” section in the bottom right corner.

A recent study by a multinational firm found that that the average payslip in France was 40 lines long, in Germany it was 15 lines long, 14 in the US and 11 in China.

As a result the report concluded that all the extra information on a French payslip hides the essential details.

But while the payslip might be a “casse-tête” for the employee, spare a thought for the payroll departments, who have to produce them each month.

The man behind the government report on payslips insists the changes will have no impact on how people are paid, but will “clarify” the end of month statements.



Recommendations include grouping together some of the various social charges under the titles of “health”,” “pensions”, and “unemployment” so workers can understand better what their contributions are being spent on.

It also proposes to keep two columns – one for the employee and one for the employer – and to include the “total salary”, which would be the wage before tax plus the payroll charges paid by the firm.



It also proposes to include a figure for how much the state has contributed per worker, each month.

The government also wants to push for all payslips to be electronic rather than a paper form which cost double the amount to a business.

Currently only 15 percent of payslips in France are electronic, compared to 95 percent in Germany and 73 percent in the UK.

But like most things in France the pace of change will be slow.

In 2016 a number of companies will voluntarily roll out the new payslips, then in 2017 all companies with more than 300 employees will bring them in, before they become compulsory for all firms in 2018.

No figure has been given for how much it will cost the state to implement the new system.


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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.