The changes that affect life in France from December 2016

As always in France the start of a new month brings with it some small but potentially significant changes for life in France.

The changes that affect life in France from December 2016
Photo: AFP
The price of gas rises 
This only concerns those who are signed up to provider Engie (formerly GDF). After a rise in November of 1.6 percent, the price will shoot up a further 2.6 percent this month. 
This includes a 0.9 percent increase for those who use gas cookers, 1.6 percent for those who use it for cooking and hot water, and 2.6 percent for those who use gas for heating. 
More generous compensation plan for delayed TGV trains
Rail operator SNCF is updating its compensation plan, offering more generous payouts to passengers on all TGV and Intercité trains affected by delays of 30 mins or more. 
From December 1st, “the traveler will be guaranteed to be reimbursed if there is a delay of more than 30 minutes and whatever the reason for the delay”, Rachel Picard, director of Voyages SNCF told AFP.
Passengers will be eligible for a 25 percent refund if the train is delayed between 30 mins and 2 hours, a fifty percent refund if the delay is between two and three hours, or a 75 percent refund thereafter. 
French TGV passengers to be given refunds for ALL delays
Easier for companies to lay staff off
A controversial part of this summer's labour laws comes into force in December, making it easier to fire workers ifthey run into financial difficulties.
A company now has two extra reasons why it can legally lay off staff on “economic grounds” (licenciement économique): The need to reorganise a company to maintain its competitiveness and if a company terminates its activity.
Plus the guidelines for when companies can lay off staff due to a drop in orders or turnover have been set in stone.
So when can a company fire a worker due to financial difficulties?
If a company has a work force of fewer than 11 employees, it can get shed staff if it sees a decrease in “significant orders or turnover” over one quarter compared to the same period the previous year.
For companies with between 12 and 50 employees, they can lay off workers after decreases in two consecutive quarters, compared to the previous year.
Companies with 50 to 300 workers need to have suffered decreases in three consecutive quarters, while companies with over 300 employees need four consecutive quarters of decreases.
New posters for shops to prevent youth drinking
Shopkeepers will have a new set of anti-drinking posters that they'll have to put up from this month as part of the health ministry's crackdown on underage drinking. 
The posters, an example of which is shown below, will have to be put up at any place that sells alcohol, including online shops.
A study last year found that 12 percent of 17-year-olds drink alcohol more than ten times a month. 
Tougher to retrieve vehicles if they are impounded
If your car, motorbike, or scooter has been impounded for whatever reason, you'll need a drivers licence and proof of insurance to be able to retrieve it. 
“Failure to submit these documents will result in a decision to keep the vehicle impounded,” the new law states. 
The move is part of a push to fight “dangerous behaviour” on the roads and to better detect people driving without insurance or a license.  
What changes for daily life in France from November

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What changes about life in France in May 2022?

A new government, May marches, flowers and public holidays as well as a rise in the minimum wage, tax deadlines, and the return of the Cannes Film Festival - here's what is happening in France in May.

What changes about life in France in May 2022?

Public Holidays

There are several public holidays in the month of May, but sadly two of the three fall on Sundays this year.

International Worker’s Day, or May Day, is on Sunday, May 1st. The holiday also coincides with the first Sunday of the month, when many museums offer free access. Though several businesses will close their doors on May Day, some museums will stay open and offer free entry, like the Air and Space Museum.

The other two public holidays are May 8th (Victory in Europe Day), which will also fall on a Sunday, and May 26th (Ascension) which will fall on a Thursday. May 8th is marked with military parades and remembrance events in towns and cities around France.

READ ALSO Why 2022 is a bad year for public holidays in France

May Day

As we mentioned, May 1st falls on a Sunday this year but although there is no extra day off work the other May Day traditions remain in place – notably trades union demonstrations and marches and the giving of the lucky lily-of-the-valley flowers.

School holidays end

Schools in zone B (northern France and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur) have already returned after the Easter holidays, but schools in Zone A (central France) restart classes on Monday, May 2nd while schools in Zone C (Paris and south west France) go back on Monday, May 9th). 

New government

The newly re-elected president Emmanuel Macron is shaking up his government, with Prime Minister Jean Castex having announced that he will resign.

This allows Macron to create a new top team of ministers and appoint a new PM, whose focus will be on fighting the parliamentary elections in June.

Voter Registration Deadline

If you are a French citizen but are not yet registered to vote for the parliamentary elections, then do not delay because you have until Wednesday, May 4th to do so online and until Friday, May 6th to do the process in person (either at your town hall or by the post).

READ ALSO When are the parliamentary elections and why are they important?

Candidate deadlines

Aspiring deputés (the French equivalent of MPs) must file their declaration of candidacy with their respective préfecture between Monday, May 16th and Friday May 20th. 

Tax Deadlines

May brings the first deadlines for the annual tax declaration – compulsory for almost everyone in France.

If you choose to file your tax returns on paper, the deadline is May 19th, 2022, regardless of where you live. For the online declarations, you have until May 24th if you live in the départements 1 to 19, and until May 31st 2022 for the départements from 20 to 54. For the remaining départements, you have until June 7th, 2022 at midnight.

READ ALSO The French tax calendar 2022

Minimum wage increase

Due to inflation, the minimum wage automatically increases on May 1st. INSEE, the national statistics bureau of France, has specified the minimum wage must increase by 2.65 percent (or €33) starting May 1st – this means that the gross hourly minimum wage will increase from €10.57 to €10.85.

Benefit increases

In line with the minimum wage increases, there will also be an increase of 1.8 percent to certain benefits including the RSA, family allowance and disables persons allowance. The back-to-school grant that families get in August will also increase to €376.98 for children aged 6 to 10, €397.78 for those aged 11 to 14 and €411.56 for teenagers aged 15 to 18.

Jobseekers training

A new payment system comes into effect for jobseekers who are undertaking extra professional training – trainees aged 16-18 will be paid €200 a month instead of the current €130. For trainees aged between 18 and 25, it will be €500, and €685 per month for those aged 26 and over.

Black boxes in cars

All new cars on sale in France are now required to be fitted with a ‘black box recorder’ similar to those in planes, in accordance with an EU measure voted into place in 2019. The measure will be extended to all cars on sale, including used cars, by 2024.

Bac delays

Initially scheduled for mid-March, the speciality tests for the general and technological baccalaureate have been postponed to May 11th-13th due to disruptions caused by the fifth wave of the Covid-19 epidemic. 

The Cannes Film Festival 

The 2022 festival will take place from May 17th to 28th at the Palais des festivals et des congrès in Cannes. It will be the 75th edition of the world renowned festival.  

Bubble Museum

The new bubbles, balls and inflatables exhibition at the Grand Halle of La Villette in Paris, will let you continue diving into ball pits until August 21st. 

VIDEO Check out Paris’ new bubble exhibition 

Deadline set for student grants

If you are interested in obtaining a student grant, student social housing, or aid for the 2022-2023 academic year, you have until May 15th to apply. According to the official website, even if you do not have all the elements required for the application, it is still important to fill out the application by the stated deadline.

A new increase in the interest rate?

The tax-free, government-regulated savings account known as the Livret A – used by over 55 million French people – may increase its interest rates due to inflation starting May 1st, 2022. For the moment, no official announcement has been made. But if this announcement is confirmed, then it will be a first in the history of the Livret A. Usually, the rate of the Livret A and the Livret de développement durable et solidaire (LDDS) can only be increased twice a year, specifically on February 1st and August 1st. The rate of the Livret A already changed on February 1st this year, from 0.5 percent to 1 percent.