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Everything that changes in France from January 2017

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Everything that changes in France from January 2017
Photo: AFP
12:40 CET+01:00
January 1st is often a time for change and in France it's no different with several new laws and price hikes coming into existence that will affect life in France.

Here's a rundown of  main ones you need to know about.

Minimum wage rises but you won't notice it

As reported earlier this month by The Local, the minimum wage, known as the SMIC will rise ever so slightly as of January 1st. In fact the jump is so miniscule, anyone on the minimum wage will almost certainly not notice it.

The hourly rate will rise by 9 cents from €9.67 to €9.76, which will equate to a rise of around €11 a month – enough for croque monsieur avec frites. After tax anyone earning the SMIC will take home around €1,153 a month next year.

Electronic payslips

From January onwards employers no longer have to provide a paper copy of payslips to their workers, unless specifically demanded. Payslips, notoriously complicated in France, will be sent electronically.

Time off to help the elderly or disabled

From January 1st workers will be able to take unpaid leave of up to three months to help care for an elderly or disabled person. The worker will not have to prove a family link to the person they are caring for.

Some may not need to pay at the doctors

The new health law passed last July that means patients will no longer have to pay up front when seeing a general doctor.

From January it will come into force, although only for pregnant women or people with long term illnesses.

These two groups of patients will no longer be required to pay upfront, however everyone else will have to wait until November 2017, before they too, can leave their €23 at home.

Tax benefits for pensioners

Anyone retired who employs someone at home is eligible for a tax credit. Previously this credit only applied to those pensioners who paid income taxes, but from January it will apply to all pensioners even those who fall below the tax threshold. Households concerned will receive a check from the tax man in 2018 for their 2017 expenses.

Help for hard-up youths

Young people aged 16 to 25 years old who are in a precarious situation in terms of work will from next year be able to access the “youth guarantee”(garantie jeunes).

This guarantee works out at a financial benefit of €460 a month for a year and they will also receive specialist help to access training or the jobs market.

No need for a divorce judge

It will no longer be obligatory for couples who agree by mutual consent to a divorce to go through a judge. From January 1st “amicable” divorces can be settled by a simple “contract of divorce” signed by lawyers and registered with a notary.

Rise in “terrorism tax”

A tax whose proceeds go to compensating the victims of terror attacks will rise in 2017 from €4.30 to €5.90. The tax is levied on each insurance policy. The tax brings in around €140 million.

Rise in gas prices

There is a change in gas prices each month in France and January will be no different with customers of gas provider Engie expected to pay slightly more next year.

At an average of 5 percent, the hike is a quite a significant one and will equate to around €55 added on to the yearly gas bill.

Diesel tax goes up but petrol tax comes down

The cost of a litre of diesel will rise by one centime while the cost of a litre of petrol will fall by the same amount. The move is aimed at reducing the price advantage of diesel which is considered far more of a pollutant than petrol.

Paris vehicles to get “pollution stickers” (see above)

A new sticker system (vignettes) will be rolled out in mid-January that means all vehicles in the French capital must have a sticker that corresponds to how polluting it is.

The stickers are all colour coded with green for the cleanest cars and grey for the most pollutant. In future when there are spikes in air pollution those with the “dirtiest” cars will have to leave them at home.

Bank charges to rise

Anyone with a French bank account and a debit card will have to fork out more for it next year. As reported in The Local earlier this month the fees imposed for banking services will rise next year, in some cases quite significantly.

One report says the fee for having an account could rise as much as 13 percent. CLICK HERE for more info.

Cost of a stamp to rise

The price of a French stamp will rise by 3.1 percent in part to compensate at the drop in the use of the traditional postal service. For anyone sending a “priority letter” the price will rise by 6.3 percent. Other postal services will also rise.

New labelling for ready meals

France have been cracking down on food labelling in recent years and the latest measure to be rolled out concerns ready meals with a certain amount of meat or milk in them.

If dishes contain more than 8 percent meat and 50 percent milk then their origins must be mentioned on the label. Only meals with 100 percent French meat or French milk can contain the label “Produit d'origine Française”.

Business to tell police about rogue drivers using company cars

From January onwards there will no more anonymity for drivers who pick up a speeding ticket using their company cars. In future bosses will have to tell police who was using the vehicle at the time of the offence.

No more tinted windows

As part of a raft of new driving rules announced earlier this year the ban on tinted windows in the front seats and windscreen will come into force in January.

Anyone caught flouting the ban will be subject to a fine of €135 and a three penalty points on their license.

No plastic bags for fruit and veg

While plastic bags were banned from supermarkets in France back in July, the ban will be extended to fruit and veg markets. From January onwards bags used for fruit and veg must be made of a biodegradable substance, like paper.

Pesticides sold under control

From January authorities will keep a close eye on sales of pesticides, fungicides and insecticides. They products can no longer be used for the maintenance of public spaces either.

Plain cigarette packages

France has already introduced a law forcing all cigarette boxes to have plain packages but from January any packaging that flouts the law will be banned.

 
From January 1st, a new employment law entered into force that obliges organisations with more than 50 workers to start negotiations to define the rights of employees to ignore their smartphones.
   
Overuse of digital devices has been blamed for everything from burnout to sleeplessness as well as relationship problems, with many employees uncertain of when they can switch off.
 
Read more about the new law here
 
France gives workers 'right to disconnect' from work email
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