If you are an employee of a big company in France, chances are you will have a subsidised canteen for lunches, but many employees whose workplace does not have a canteen get restaurant vouchers instead to buy their lunches.
There are various exemptions to this scheme, but in total around four million employees in France benefit from restaurant vouchers, a scheme that is worth around €6 billion a year.
Now the Prime Minister has announced an increase in the maximum ceiling for vouchers – up from €19 a day to €38 a day – as well as an exemption that they can be used during weekends and public holidays as well as only on weekdays for the rest of 2020.
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The increase is intended to help out France's hospitality sector, still reeling from almost three months of closure during the lockdown.
Most restaurants in France reopened from June 2nd, but in the greater Paris region – which is an orange zone of elevated coronavirus levels – only restaurants and cafés with outdoor terraces are allowed to reopen.
Some workers can use their vouchers in food shops but in this case the ceiling will stay at €19, in an attempt to boost the restaurant sector.
Announcing the change, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said: “This may seem trivial, incidental, but it is not at all.
“It will allow the recovery to be accompanied by much better conditions for restaurateurs and it will allow all the restaurant vouchers that were not used during the lockdown to be re-injected into the restaurant and café economy. This is obviously essential.”
Restaurant vouchers are just one of the perks that French employees can enjoy, along with subsidised travel, paid healthcare, generous holidays and extra time off for working more than 35 hours a week – although not everyone is entitled to this.