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France - Salaries

When salaries are quoted in France they are often done so as an annual figure (salaire annuel). This figure will cover all monies earned during the year, to include salary, all employee benefits such as overtime and bonuses and in kind payments. This will all be detailed in the contract of employment so that the employee knows exactly what to expect. Any alterations to this should be done in writing and in negotiation with the employee.

Some companies in France will make two payments to their employees in December and June. This amount is also included in the annual salary figure. These are referred to as the 13th and 14th month’s salaries. An increasing number of employers in France are also adding profit sharing schemes and bonus schemes to the salary. These are usually based on company performance and employee performance. Not all employees can expect this type of extra money as this is a relatively new payment scheme in France.

Salaries are normally paid just before the end of the month and there will be some deductions from the amount that you receive. These include social security contributions as well as any optional schemes that you may be a part of such as life insurance, pension contributions and mutual insurance schemes. These deductions can be as much as 25% of your gross salary. It should be noted that there are no automatic deductions for income tax. All employees need to submit a tax return once a year and pay their own tax from their salary.

France does have a national minimum wage scheme. It is illegal for any employer to pay an employee below this amount. This is referred to as SMIC (salaire minimum interprofessionnel de croissance). This is reviewed each year on the 1st July. In January 2011 the hourly rate for the minimum wage was due to rise to a minimum of €9, up a few cents from the previous rate of €8.86 per hour. This gives the employee the equivalent of a monthly salary of €1343.80 before deductions. When compared with salary levels in the UK and the US, this is a fairly good rate, although in some professions skilled workers can earn a great deal more in other countries.

There are some professions where there are agreements which specify working conditions for the employee such as the minimum salary level, rights to sick leave and extra working hours. This might include professions where weekend working, night shifts and working on public holidays is a requirement. Pay negotiations are a requirement. This is an annual occurrence and can be done as individual discussions with the staff or discussions with the trade unions.

The minimum wage is around half of the average salary which is earned by a teacher or a nurse, but those who are working in non-skilled professions such as waiters, cleaners and office juniors will rarely earn more than the minimum wage. Company directors can expect to earn 6 or 7 times the minimum wage.

As there is a national minimum wage there are few regional variations in salary.

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