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October 5, 2023

Employee Benefits France: 10+ Benefits to Offer Your Team

From health insurance to pension coverage, explore the top employee benefits in France to attract skilled talent and ensure compliance with French laws.

Aine Kavanagh

Article written by

Aine Kavanagh

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Are you hiring employees in France? 

Offer them a compelling employee benefits package.

It's not just about complying with French laws; it's your ticket to woo and retain the best talent in the country. 

Employee benefits in France fall into the following three groups:

  • Statutory benefits: Health insurance, old age pension, sick leave, solidarity allowance, etc.  

  • Supplementary benefits: Complementary health insurance, retirement benefits, death/disability coverage.

  • Fringe benefits: Flexible work hours, 13th month salary, meal allowance, etc. 

Let’s explore these benefits in detail. 

7 Statutory Employee Benefits in France

France has a robust social security system (Sécurité Sociale) that mandates certain employee benefits. 

These benefits are funded primarily through employer and employee contributions (aka social charges), calculated as a percentage of the employee’s gross income. The employer must pay these contributions to the French government.

Let’s look at the seven main statutory benefits in France:

1. Statutory Health Insurance (l'Assurance Maladie)

France has a universal healthcare system that guarantees health insurance coverage for all residents, including employees. 

It covers essential healthcare services, such as:

  • Physician and outpatient care

  • Hospital stays and surgery

  • Prescription medicines

  • Medical tests and procedures

  • Maternity care

  • Long-term care

The catch?

Some expenses, such as cosmetic surgery, dental procedures, private hospital rooms and amenities, aren’t included. 

This is where a supplementary or ‘top-up’ health insurance policy comes into play. (We’ll explore it later in the article — under supplementary employee benefits.)

2. Paid Leave Entitlements

Paid leaves in France include:

A. Public Holidays

Every French employee is entitled to a day off on these 11 public holidays:

  • New Year's Day (1st January)

  • Easter Monday (falls between March 22 and April 25, depending on the year)

  • Labour Day (1st May)

  • Victory Day (8th May)

  • Ascension Day (celebrated on the 40th day of Easter, between May and June)

  • Pentecost Monday or Whit Monday (falls between May 11 and June 14, depending on the year)

  • Bastille Day (14th July)

  • Assumption Day (15th August)

  • All Saints' Day (1st November)

  • Armistice Day (11th November)

  • Christmas Day (25th December)

B. Minimum Paid Annual Holidays

The French labour laws mandate a minimum of 5 work weeks (30 days) of paid annual leave for employees. 

It’s known as holiday allowance or paid vacation, which helps French workers have a healthy work-life balance.

C. Sick Leave (Arrêt Maladie)

Full-time and part-time French employees get paid sick leave. 

The French social health insurance covers sick leave payments. The employee receives the payment as a daily allowance, and the eligibility varies with the duration of the leave:

  • Up to 6 months off: To qualify for compensation during the first six months of the leave, the employee must meet either of the following conditions:

    • Worked at least 150 hours in the three months before the leave. OR

    • Made social security contributions based on a salary equalling 1,015 times the hourly minimum wage (€11.52 per hour in 2023) in the six months before the leave.

  • After 6 months: If the sick leave extends beyond six months, the employee should have been:

    • A member of a social security scheme for at least 12 months. AND

    • Worked at least 600 hours in the year before the leave.

Pay Rates for Sick Leave
  • The daily allowances (indemnités journalières de maladie) are 50% of the employee’s basic daily wage.

  • If paid monthly, the basic daily wage is calculated based on the total of the last three gross wages before the leave.

  • The maximum daily allowance is €51.70.

Moreover, employees on sick leave may be eligible for additional compensation from their employer. 

The exact compensation depends on the employee’s length of service and salary, company policy, and collective bargaining agreement.

D. Maternity, Paternity & Adoption Leave

Maternity, paternity, and adoption leave support new parents during the early months of a child's life or adoption.

Eligibility for Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Leave
  • The employee(s) must be insured under the French social security system. 

  • They must have been registered for social security for at least ten months before the due date or the child's arrival in the house.

  • They must have made the required social security contributions.

Leave Duration
A. Maternity Leave
  • Before childbirth: 6 weeks before the due date (up to 24 weeks for multiple births).

  • After childbirth: 10 weeks (up to 22 weeks for multiple births).

B. Paternity Leave
  • The French Labour Code mandates a 3-day obligatory childbirth leave (paid by the employer) to biological fathers and second parents. 

  • It's followed by paternity leave (paid for by social security), the duration for which varies with single or multiple births.

    • Single birth: 25 calendar days (a 4-day leave must be taken right after the obligatory 3-day childbirth leave + another 21 days).

    • Multiple births: 32 calendar days (a 4-day mandatory leave immediately after the 3-day childbirth leave + another 28 days).

In the context of French law and paternity leave, "second parent" refers to an individual — regardless of gender — who is not the biological mother/father but has a parenting role in the child's life. This can include adoptive parents, same-sex partners, and other legal guardians.

C. Adoption Leave
  • 16 weeks (extended to 22 weeks for adopting more than one child).

  • Parents can share the adoption leave, which is then extended by 25 days (32 days for adopting multiple children).

Payment During Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Leave
  • The beneficiary gets a daily allowance equalling their average daily wage (for three months preceding the leave), capped at the social security ceiling (€3,666 monthly and €95.22 per day in 2023).

  • The Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie (CPAM) — an administrative body that manages health insurance for French citizens — disburses the payment into the beneficiaries’ insurance fund every 14 days.

  • In addition to paid parental leave, French social health insurance covers a portion of maternity costs related to pregnancy and childbirth. 

What’s more?

France also has several ‘family benefits’ to support families, especially those with children. These mandatory benefits include family allowances, family supplement, etc.

3. Unemployment Benefit (Allocations Chômage)

The unemployment benefit offers a safety net for workers who lose their jobs involuntarily, such as when a company lays off an employee due to financial challenges.

The benefit falls under the French social security system's unemployment insurance (l'assurance chômage).

How do you qualify for the French unemployment benefit?

Candidates must meet specific criteria, such as having worked in France for a minimum duration and being registered with Pôle emploi — the French employment agency. 

They should also reside in areas covered by the French unemployment insurance program, i.e. metropolitan France and the overseas departments and regions of France.

Pay Rates for the Unemployment Benefit

The pay rate for the unemployment benefit, known as the Allocation d'aide au retour à l'emploi (ARE), is calculated based on the employee’s previous social contributions and work duration.

Typically, a beneficiary receives a percentage of their previous salary, with higher-earning individuals receiving a lower percentage.

The exact duration of the benefit varies depending on the employee’s age, work history, and job market conditions.

4. Workers’ Compensation

In France, workers' compensation is a fundamental right. 

It protects workers against workplace injuries, illnesses, and job termination.

A. Disability Benefits

If an employee faces a temporary disability (incapacité temporaire), they receive benefits to cover their lost wages. Eligible employees receive daily allowances (indemnités journalières) based on their wages before the injury/illness.

On the other hand, a permanent disability (incapacité permanente) can lead to two types of pensions:

  • Worker's disability pension (Rente d'incapacité permanente): It’s provided to the injured worker. The exact amount depends on the degree of permanent incapacity.

  • Pension payable to survivors (Rente aux ayants droit): It’s given to the family if the worker succumbs to their injuries. The compensation is paid quarterly and is revalued annually.

Learn more about the Permanent Disability Pension Systems

B. Severance Pay

When an employer ends an employment contract, the employee is often entitled to severance pay, known as ‘indemnités de licenciement’.

This ensures that the employee has financial support as they transition.

The conditions and the exact amount for the severance pay can vary based on factors like seniority, type of contract, and collective agreement.

Use this simulator to determine your employee’s severance pay.

5. Old-Age Benefits

Here are the two main old age benefits in France:

A. Old Age Pension (Pension de Vieillesse)

The old age pension is the main source of retirement income in France. 

The French government provides the old age pension under the General Social Security Pension Insurance Scheme.

What’s the pension age in France?

The French government raised France's legal minimum statutory pension age from 62 to 64 in 2023. However, employees are eligible for a full-rate pension only when they turn 67.

Pay Rates for the Old Age Pension

In 2023, a retiree can get an old age pension amount anywhere between €961.08 to €1,833 per month. 

The exact amount depends on:

  • Total years of contributions to the pension insurance scheme.

  • Average annual earnings — the government considers the 25 best-paid years of the employee.

  • Revaluation (the pension rates are revalued yearly to account for inflation).

The full pension equals 50% of the retiree's average earnings during their 25 best-paid years.

B. Solidarity Allowance for the Elderly

The solidarity allowance is a means-tested benefit paid to retirees over 65 years with a monthly income below a certain threshold.

6. Working Hours & Overtime Benefits

The Labour Code (Code du travail) strictly regulates employee working conditions in France.

The maximum daily working time limit is 10 hours, and the weekly limit is 48 hours

Employees who work over 7 hours per day are entitled to overtime pay. 

What’s the overtime pay?

The overtime pay could range from 110%-150% of the employee’s regular wage. The exact rate depends on factors like hours of overtime and collective bargaining agreements.

Alternatively, the Reduction of Working Time (Réduction du Temps de Travail) system allows eligible employees to accumulate additional time off for extra hours worked.

7. Other Insurance Benefits

Here are two other insurance types French employees get:

A. Death Insurance

In the unfortunate event of an employee's death, the government provides these benefits:

  • Spouse’s Pension (Pension de réversion): A portion of the deceased employee’s pension is provided to their spouse.

  • Death Grant (Capital décès): A one-time financial assistance to the family.

B. Disability Insurance

French employees with disabilities get a minimum income (Pension d’invalidité) to support their standard of living.

The amount and eligibility primarily depend on the degree of disability.

Disability insurance isn’t limited to incapacity from workplace injuries, unlike the disability benefits that are part of workers’ compensation. Similarly, disability insurance is funded by both employer and employee contributions, whereas only employers contribute to ‘disability benefit for occupational injuries’.

3 Supplementary Employee Benefits in France

Employers offer these supplementary benefits to their employees as a part of their benefits package. 

Why?

  • Primarily because they’re obliged to do so under French law.

  • It helps them attract and retain talent.

  • It boosts employee satisfaction and morale.

1. Complementary Health Insurance (Mutuelle)

Companies must provide private health insurance, known as Mutuelle, to their employees.

Mutuelle helps an employee get reimbursements for medical expenses that the state might not fully cover.

What’s the best way to offer private health insurance to your staff?

Use Kota.

Kota is a digital employee benefits platform that helps employers provide competitive and compliant benefits packages to their teams globally. 

We partner with Allianz — a trusted insurance provider in France, to provide comprehensive coverage of up to €2.9 million.

This means your team gets full coverage for:

  • Intensive care

  • Pre-approved surgeries

  • Ambulance service

  • Scans and pre-approved tests

  • Out-patient consultation

They also get access to private rooms and additional cover for dental emergencies, emergency medical evacuation, and treatment abroad.

Still not convinced? 

Here are some more benefits of using Kota:

  • Minimise administrative tasks and broker expenses to maximize your savings.

  • Access flexible plans that suit every budget — starting with €90/month, going up to €124+ per month.

  • Enrol, manage, and scale employee benefits through a single app.

  • Easily compare your offerings with your competitors through geo-location data and make informed decisions to boost your employer brand.

2. Complementary Death/Disability Coverage (Assurance Prévoyance)

Prévoyance provides added financial safety (on top of social disability and death insurance) to employees and their families from death, incapacity, or serious illness events.

The coverage may include lumpsum capital on death and supplementary income during disability. 

Employees can take this insurance independently, or their employer can provide it.

3. Complementary Retirement Benefits (Retraites Complémentaires)

In France, workers receive a compulsory supplementary pension to complement the state pension.

This pension is provided by industry-specific bodies like:

  • AGIRC or Association Générale des Institutions de Retraite des Cadres (for executive-level employees in the private sector) 

  • ARRCO or Association pour le Régime de Retraite Complémentaire des Salariés (for all other employees in the private sector)

  • Ircantec (for non-tenured public-sector employees)

Fringe Employee Benefits in France

Here are some other perks companies offer to their French employees to boost job satisfaction:

  • Flexible hours: Allow employees to start and end their workday based on their needs. 

  • 13th month’s salary: An additional compensation paid at the end of the year.

  • Meal vouchers: Subsidised employee meals.

  • Transportation allowance: Covers part of the public transit commuting costs.

What else can companies do to boost their employer brand?

Establish good relations with France’s employee work council - the Social and Economic Committee. You must also enforce strict data privacy measures that comply with the general data protection regulation (GDPR) rules in the European Union (enforced by the European Commission).

Woo Your French Employees With Exceptional Benefits

The French social security system protects employees with essential benefits, including medical, disability, and death insurance.

As an employer, you must make social security contributions on your employee’s behalf and provide them additional insurance and pension benefits. 

Want to offer Mutuelle to your employees?

Kota is your go-to solution! It's a time and cost-efficient platform to manage your French team’s health insurance plans.

Sign up with Kota today to protect your employees’ well-being!

Aine Kavanagh

Article written by

Aine Kavanagh

👋🏻 Hi I'm Aine, Head of Customer Success at Kota. Whether you're a Kota customer, a Kota user, or you're just browsing, I hope to help educate and empower those who want to know more about owning their own benefits, and building financial autonomy 📚

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