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What changes about life in France from March 1st 2019

At the beginning of each new month in France there are many changes. Here is an overview of what is coming into effect this Friday, March 1st.

What changes about life in France from March 1st 2019
Photo: AFP

Rise in the price of tobacco

The price of a packet of cigarettes is never going to go down, so when you hear of a price change it can only mean one thing. And, yes, cigarettes will cost more from Friday March 1st.

The government’s aim to charge a symbolic €10 per packet of cigarettes by 2020 is closer than ever with a rise in tax of 50 centimes on average per packet. However, it remains to be seen whether the brands will pass on this increase in the purchase price, the majority of the price being made up of taxes.

Three further increases are planned for next November, March 2020 and November 2020 to reach the milestone of getting no change back from your tenner.

Currently, packets of cigarettes cost between €7.50 and €9.40, rolling tobacco around €10.

Property: Simplification of grants for eco-renovations to homes

In order to relaunch this incentive scheme to help with home renovations, the eco-PTZ (Éco-prêt à taux zéro) has been simplified to enable more people to benefit from the zero-rate eco-loan intended to encourage renovation. These adjustments come into effect as of this Friday.

The scheme has now been extended until 2021 and has apparently been made more accessible.

The criteria for eligibility has changed. It now applies to all housing over two years old. The work package condition has been abolished, there is a standardisation of the borrowing period to 15 years, an extension of the list of eligible works and an extension of the repayment period for certain types of work (10 years and 15 years for the most significant renovation works).

This work package condition had been quite the sticking point.

Until now, it required that your renovation included at least two of the following six operations: roof insulation, wall insulation, window replacement, installation or replacement of heating or domestic hot water, choice of renewable energy for new heating, and choice of renewable energy for the PECS. From now on, only one of these operations is sufficient to be eligible.

Moped and ‘voiturette’ licence changes

Good news for pedestrians and any road users. The kids are going to have to take eight hours of exams before they are let loose on the roads. From Friday, the road safety licence will change, to better train young people – from 14 years old – to drive a moped less than 50 cc or a quad bike and also small cars known as ‘voiturettes’ without a full licence.

Now called the AM licence, this was the licence known as the BSR. The training will include an additional hour, amounting to 8 hours spread over two half-days. It will now include road risk awareness during which, for younger applicants, the presence of at least one of the parents or legal representative is required in order to involve them.

In addition, for those who might be tempted to arrive for the test in a bikini and flip-flops, the biker's standard equipment (approved helmet, standard gloves, long-sleeved jacket, trousers and high shoes) will now be mandatory during this examination.

Equal pay: transparency is the key

The gender pay gap is finally being properly addressed. Companies with more than 1000 employees are now required to publish an index that records the disparity of pay between men and women as well as the equal distribution of pay rises and promotions, and to increase the number of women who return to the workforce after maternity leave.

Out of a total scale of 100, companies will have to achieve at least 75 points to demonstrate that they are taking moves to eradicate the problem. If not, and without progress within three years, a financial penalty may be applied, up to 1% of the wage bill…

Companies with more than 250 employees will be affected on September 1st, and SMEs on March 1st 2020.

French Tech Visa extended to all “innovative” companies

A lateral way to obtain the ever elusive French residence permit has now been extended. All you need to do is demonstrate you and your company are creative.

Launched in 2017 to attract digital talent and entrepreneurs from all over the world, the French Tech Visa has evolved. This tool allows start-up founders or talented individuals wishing to join a start-up in France to benefit from a simplified and accelerated procedure to obtain a residence permit.

Until now, the French Tech Visa has been reserved for digital companies. But it is now being extended to all “companies identified as innovative”.


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