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French word of the Day: Prime

French word of the Day: Prime
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Always a cause for celebration.

Why do I need to know prime?

Because you probably want one.

What does it mean?

Une prime is a bonus, allowance or one-off payment and they’re pretty common in France.

The word can used to describe a one-off extra payment or bonus given to workers – for example French healthcare workers received several bonuses of around €1,000 during the pandemic as a thank-you for their work on the frontline. These are usually referred to as une prime exceptionnelle – a one-off payment.

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But prime can also refer to a regular performance-related payments or to allowances within a salary or benefits.

For example within the family benefits structure is une prime à la naissance ou à l’adoption which is a one-off payment to help meet the costs of a new arrival in the family, whether that is through birth or adoption.

Many employees are also entitled to certain primes, for example une prime de repas or meal allowance, and these often need to be claimed, so it’s worth reading carefully through your employment contract and the convention collectif that covers you for any primes you might be entitled to.

Une prime can also refer to points or bonuses on a loyalty card scheme.

One thing it doesn’t refer to is politicians – the French prime minister is le premier ministre.

Use it like this 

Une prime exceptionnelle défiscalisée va être versée à certains fonctionnaires, pour récompenser leur travail pendant la pandémie – A tax-free bonus will be paid to some public sector workers to reward their work during the pandemic

J’ai reçu une prime pour mon travail sur ce projet, alors sortons dîner – I got a bonus for my work on that project so let’s go out for dinner

Le salarié demandait un rappel de salaire portant sur une prime de repas – The employee claimed back pay for a meal allowance


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