Europe is facing a cost-of-living crisis with spiralling food and fuel costs, in part as a result of the Ukraine war. In France, the minimum wage has been increased and a major package of measures designed to help employees deal with rising costs was published on 17 August 2022.
On 1 August 2022, the French minimum wage (the salaire minimum interprofessionnel de croissance, Smic) increased from EUR 10.85 to EUR 11.07.
The ‘purchasing power package’
On 17 August 2022, a package of urgent measures designed to preserve the purchasing power of French employees in the face of inflationary pressures was published.
The purchasing power law
The ‘value sharing’ bonus
From 1 July 2022, employers can pay employees a ‘value sharing’ bonus up to EUR 3000 (or EUR 6000 subject to additional conditions) tax free and without incurring social security liability.
Employers will be entitled to a lump sum deduction (amount to be set by decree) from their contributions for overtime worked or rest days given up by employees, subject to conditions.
This applies to employers of between 20 and 250 employees, and to overtime worked from 1 October 2022.
Agreements for profit-sharing bonus arrangements are extended to five years. The ability for employers to implement a profit share arrangement unilaterally is extended to companies with fewer than 50 employees (previously this only applied to those with fewer than 11 employees).
Employee savings schemes
Employees can take their profit share bonuses tax free if they leave them in an employee savings account for five years. Under new measures, they will exceptionally and till 31/12/2022 be able to access to up to EUR 10,000 from their employee savings schemes (money saved before 2022) early without any tax or social security implications.
The procedures for setting up employee savings schemes is also simplified and shortened.
CBA salary negotiations
The timeline for starting wage negotiations has been shortened from three months to 45 days, in cases where the relevant sectoral collective agreement includes a minimum wage below the new Smic.
Until 31 December 2023, employees will be entitled to use meal tickets to purchase any food product.
Other cost-of-living measures
Overtime and extra work by part-time employees
Overtime pay and pay for hours worked by part-time employees beyond their contractual working hours will now be exempt from tax up to a maximum of EUR 7,500 (the previous ceiling was EUR 5,000).
The 35-hour working week: giving up RTT days
Employees will be allowed choose to give up and be paid for days they should not otherwise have worked under 35-hour working week rules (‘RTT days’), if their employer agrees.
This rule will apply to RTT days accrued between 1 January 2022 and 31 December 2025.
These days will be paid at the rate the employer pays the first hour of overtime worked.
The tax-free portion of reimbursement of petrol or electric vehicle charging costs paid by the employer is raised to EUR 700 total (of which EUR 400 maximum can be petrol costs).
The tax-free portion of employer-paid public transport or bike season tickets has been increased to a maximum of 75% of the total price.
The tax-free portion of meal tickets paid by the employer has been increased to EUR 5.92 per ticket.
Additional food costs
From 1 September 2022, the ceiling for tax-free additional food costs paid by employers will rise.
Employers will be permitted to place vulnerable employees in ‘partial activity’ (meaning they are protected from redundancy and will be entitled to an indemnity paid by the employer and reimbursed by the state). How long this provision will remain in force will be set out by decree at a later date, but not beyond 31 January 2023.
For more details of all these and other provisions (in French), see here.