benefits in france

Social coverage in France is very largely made up of contributions to funds which are fixed by law or by the collective bargaining agreement and are thus the same for all companies in the same area of activity.

Consequently, unlike in many other countries, employees do not normally try to negotiate these statutory benefits during the hiring phase.  (They are more likely to focus on base salary, variable compensation and other ‘side’ benefits such as cars, phones, etc).

5 components to compulsory coverage in FR

Social Security (URSSAF)

In a nutshell, Social Security in France covers the following areas:

  • Healthcare costs : generally refunds patients around 50-70% of most healthcare costs, or 100% in the case of costly or long-term illness.  Medical costs are managed by local centers called CPAMs (Centres Primaire d’Assurance Maladie –
  • Maternity and sick leave : sick leave is paid from day 4 onwards and is capped at 46.00 € gross/day, while paternity leave (11 calendar days) and maternity leave (16 weeks) are capped at 92.00 €/day. This is usually supplemented by the employer’s life/disability insurance, under seniority and length of leave conditions.
  • Disability insurance : compensates for loss of income if the ability to work is impacted long-term. Amount of indemnity depends on level on disability.
  • Basic pension fund : paid from age 62, and also paid to surviving spouse upon death (54% of spouse’s pension amount).
  • Life insurance : 3 476€ paid out to spouse, or children, or parents.
  • Work accidents : benefits for work-related injury or sickness (100% reimbursement of medical costs and better sick leave pay than for ‘normal’ sickness).
  • Family benefits : supports childcare costs and costs incurred with a new birth (PAJE)
  • Housing benefits : supports social housing development and housing aid for low-income households.

Spouses and dependent children of an employee or retired person are also covered if they reside in France.

There is the same level of coverage whatever the level of salary for healthcare costs.  For the other benefits, the level of coverage is proportional to salary, but capped.

For an extensive explanation of your employees’ rights in France, please visit the CLEISS website.

Unemployment benefits (Pole Emploi)

This covers loss of employment (except in the case of resignation) and benefits are proportional to salary.

In general, if an employee is made redundant, or concludes an amicable termination agreement with his employer, he/she will get 57 % of average gross salary as unemployment benefits for up to 2 years (or 3 years if over 55 years old).

An improved benefit system exists for economic dismissals (75% of average gross salary for the first year, with no wait time).

The ‘Pole Emploi’ also provides a wide variety of programs and financial aid for employees creating a business, training, etc.

For an extensive explanation of your employees’ rights in France, please visit the CLEISS website

Pension plans (funds vary)

These are additional pension funds, on top of the basic pension provided by the Social Security.  The contribution rules are set by law, are identical for all employers and are proportional to salary and employee ‘status’, with different rates applicable to cadre or non-cadre employees..

Pension funds are managed by private insurances which are designated according to a complex system which depends on the activity branch of the company, collective bargaining agreement, geographic area etc.

More information is available in French here on the official website, or in English here on the European Commission website.

Life & disability coverage (‘Prévoyance’)

Covers death, prolonged sick leave and disability risks.

Contrary to URSSAF, Pole Emploi and Pension funds, the rates are not determined by law, but by branch, through the collective bargaining agreement applicable to your activity branch.

The rates (and consequently the coverage) are also a minimum and the employer can choose to cover more.
The only legal minimum applicable to all employers is that for cadre (management-level) employees. Contributions are a 1.5% rate on the first bracket of their salary (up to SS limit – 3 428 € in 2021), for minimum death capital coverage.

Health coverage (or ‘Mutuelle’)

Covers part of the difference between the actual healthcare costs and those covered by the Social Security. This is provided by private insurers with a variety of coverage levels/rates. It is compulsory coverage, with rates (fixed amount per month) and levels of coverage determined by law (minimum) and, sometimes, by collective bargaining agreements.

However, there are a few cases when the employee can refuse the coverage (e.g. if they are already covered by their spouse’s compulsory coverage and produce proof of this yearly, or if they are on a less than 12 mos. contract and don’t wish to benefit from the company’s contract etc.)

NB. France is considered to provide one of the best overall health care systems in the world, which is already covered by Social Security benefits. For example, if you are hospitalized or have a long-term ailment and are treated in one of the very good public hospitals or with a physician (widespread) who applies Social Security recommended rates, there will in fact be no cost left for a private healthcare plan to pick up.
This new benefit will mainly serve for the bits that are not so well reimbursed by Social Security (e.g. eye-wear / dental care / « everyday »/comfort medicine – e.g. for colds etc, for which reimbursement is not 100% – and extra costs above Social Security rates in private clinics, with physicians who go over SS rates)
This is why a private healthcare plan – despite being an additional cost – is not really expensive (usually under 50€/month).