Everything that changes in France from January 2017

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.

Everything that changes in France from January 2017
Photo: AFP

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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What’s changing about life in France in June 2019

At the beginning of each month, there are many changes in France. Here is an overview of what is coming into effect this June.

What’s changing about life in France in June 2019
Photos: AFP
Electricity prices going up
EDF (électricité de France) will be increasing electricity prices by 5.9 percent starting June 1st.
For the average household, this means that the cost of energy will increase around €85 per year, according to EDF estimations.
Photo: Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP
The increase was proposed on February 7th by the CRE (commission de régulation d'énergie) in order to cover rising costs, but the government decided to wait until the end of winter to apply the price hike. Several news organisations (France Info, BFMTV) also cite the role of the ‘Yellow Vest’ protests in delaying the measure.
Gas prices continue to fall
Gas prices will continue to decrease slight, by 0.45 percent, in the month of June. The reduction is part of measures taken in January to placate the 'yellow vests'. June, however, is the last month that these reductions are to be applied.
Photo: Philippe HUGUEN / AFP
Last chance to file taxes
Those living in départements numbered 50 through 976 have until midnight on Tuesday, June 4th to file their tax declaration online (everyone else should have filed already).
Reminder: despite the fact that it’s still necessary to file a tax return, 2018 is a “white year”, which means that, in order to avoid paying double the taxes in 2019, French taxpayers are allowed to skip 2018 except on “exceptional” income. 
“Exceptional” income are sums that are likely to be one-offs for 2018, like compensation for breach of contract (if the amount qualifies as taxable), one-time retirement allowances, income from stakes or profit-sharing schemes that are not part of an employee savings program and capital gains on movable or immovable assets. 
For more information, read our article on this year’s tax declarations in France.
Summer sales
The summer soldes (sales) will take place from Tuesday, June 26th through Tuesday, August 6th in most of France, and July 3rd through August 13th in the Alpes-Maritimes and Pyrénées-Orientales. Dates also vary slightly in overseas territories, and can be found here.
The dates and conduct of sales in France are strictly controlled by the Code de commerce, which permits these promotions twice a year – once in January-February, after the holidays, and once in summer. These are the only times when French retailers are allowed to sell at a loss, according to specific rules laid out by the Code de commerce.
Photo: Philippe HUGUEN / AFP
Consultation regarding fixed-line telephone numbers
The Arcep (Autorité de régulation des communications électroniques et des postes) is holding an online survey now through June 7th to ask users whether they want to be able to keep their landline telephone numbers, even when they move to a different region.
Currently, landline telephone users are obligated to change their numbers when the moving elsewhere in France, because these numbers are organised by region of residence (01 for Ile-de-France, 02 for the north west, etc.). Fixed-line users will now have a chance to make themselves heard on the subject.