Art and cultural heritage, culinary diversity and the aforementioned savoir-vivre, the French way of living and enjoying life – France has a charm all its own. But what is it like to live, study and work between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic??
What began in 1963 with the signing of the elysee Treaty declaring Franco-German friendship has developed over the years into a cooperative partnership in many areas of society, politics and business. What are the advantages and disadvantages of working in neighboring France?? Are there strong differences to the German system? And what professional opportunities does France offer in the future??
Working situation in France
Facts and figures of France
With 67.81 million inhabitants in an area of about 644 km², France is the largest member state of the European Union in terms of surface area. Currency is the Euro.
Professionals in France receive an average annual salary of 37.874 euros gross, but variations of up to 20 percent can be observed. In addition to gender-specific and age-related differences, this is due to regional disparities in pay. The metropolitan area in and around the capital Paris, also known as Île-de-France, offers the best career and earning opportunities, followed by the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region on the border with Switzerland and Italy. Executives in the Parisian environment earn around 52.000 euros gross per year approx. 11 percent higher than in the rest of the country. At this point, it should be noted that the cost of living in the metropolitan region is also correspondingly higher.
In 2020, 28.8 million people were employed in France, a large proportion of whom work in the service sector. About 3.3 million employees work in industry and commerce and another 1.8 million in construction, while the primary sector contributes the least to the gross domestic product (GDP) with 0.7 million employees. 7.4 percent of people in France are unemployed, and the trend is downward. By comparison, the unemployment rate in Germany is currently 5.4 percent.
Country comparison between Germany and France
The majority of the French population is in permanent employment. 12.6 percent are self-employed and only 7.7 percent of employees have a fixed-term contract at the time of 2021. In Germany, about 7.4 percent of employees are employed on a temporary basis (as of 2019). However, there are other differences between the two countries, for example with regard to the statutory minimum wage: The Salaire minimum interprofessionel garanti (SMIG) was introduced as early as 1950 and is updated annually. Since May of this year, the minimum wage in France has been 10.85 euros per hour. In Germany, the statutory minimum wage is 9.82 euros an hour and is set to increase to 10.45 euros in July 2022.
In addition, France scores highly as an employer when it comes to working hours: The regular working week here is 35 instead of 40 hours. Employees in management positions, for example, are exempt from this rule. If overtime is worked, French employees receive a percentage salary supplement of 25 to 50 percent. In addition, employees in France have a vacation entitlement of 2.5 days per month, i.e. 30 working days per year. This is one week more than German workers, who are granted only 24 days off per year.
However, the situation is different in the event of illness: Employers must pay employees who call in sick only after the seventh day in succession, namely 90 percent of the fixed salary in the first 30 days. Thereafter, the employer pays employees who are absent due to illness only approx. 67 percent of salary, whereby the period of continued payment after 30 additional days is regulated by the company and varies accordingly. To compensate for this, employees receive sick pay after a three-day waiting period (delai de carence). As a rule, the respective health insurance company pays 50 percent of the gross salary.
Social contributions, taxes and duties in France
Which health insurance fund you belong to in France depends, among other things, on your own professional situation. The health insurance system distinguishes here between three main instances: The primary health insurance fund CPAM (Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie), an agricultural health insurance fund for professionals in agriculture, and a health insurance fund for the self-employed, the Mutuelle des artisans. In the event of illness, the respective health insurance fund assumes part of the costs incurred for visits to the doctor, medication and other care services. Since not all costs are reimbursed, many French citizens also have private insurance.
Every employee in France is required to pay a general solidarity contribution. The CSG (Contribution sociale generalisee) is the basis for a functioning social security system, the Securite sociale, which also includes statutory health insurance. Contributions for employed persons amount to 9.2 percent of income. As the French system still has remaining social security debts, a further 0.5 percent is payable to the CRDS (Contribution au remboursement de la dette sociale). In total, between 20 and 25 percent of the gross salary of French employees is paid into social security.
Until recently, France also had an annual housing tax, the amount of which depended on the value of the rent and the location of the dwelling. However, this contribution is being phased out through a reform so that by 2023 no one will have to pay a taxe d'habitation on their primary residence.
Salary in France
Although employees in France earn less on average than in Germany, they also pay less income tax. This is determined individually for each employee by a state online calculator, in addition to the allocation to the corresponding salary classes. For example, those who earn 45.000 euros gross per year receives 30 percent of this amount.198 euros net income – in Germany, employees with the same gross annual income receive 27 euros per week.770 euros after income tax and other deductions on average approx. 8.7 percent less net salary. However, the cost of living in France is about 5.8 percent higher.
In terms of salaries, there was hardly any movement last year in particular, which can be attributed to crisis situations such as the Corona pandemic and the tense global economic situation.
According to the French statistical office INSEE, women are paid on average 16 percent less than men (as of 2019). The difference is particularly significant in management positions.
France as a role model in family policy
France's family policy offers advantages for working mothers in particular, which is not least a positive effect in counteracting demographic change: On average, every woman in France has two children. France has the highest birth rate in Europe. Although the employment rate of French women is lower than that in Germany, it is often easier in France to reconcile work and family life. Many women with children have full-time jobs and benefit, for example, from a wide range of childcare facilities. Last but not least, the shortened working week also makes it easier to manage everyday life with a career and family.
This means that mothers also have good career prospects, whereas the situation in Germany is much more difficult. A full 46.2 percent of German women work part-time – in France, the figure is just 22.2 percent.
Labor market situation in France
Despite the impact of the Corona pandemic, qualified professionals are actively sought in many fields. The tourism industry, as well as gastronomy and commerce, is looking for new employees, especially in the greater Paris area. In addition to the service sector, the digitalization of the labor market, future-oriented technologies and information technology also play a major role. The prospects for applicants are currently particularly good in the following sectors and professions:
Occupational fields in demand:
- Accounting and human resources
- Research and development
- Information and telecommunications
- IT and engineering
- Insurance and finance, accounting
Occupations in demand:
- Data Scientist
- Industrial clerk
- IT Manager
- Waiter, temp
- PR employee
- Accounting clerk
- SEO Manager
In France, great importance is attached to good language skills and intercultural competence. Respect for authority figures is more important in French culture than in Germany, for example, in both family and professional life. While Germans value punctuality, time management and quality consciousness, in France the emphasis is on innovativeness and a free spirit.
France's education system
School system in France
The French school system differs in many respects from the German school system. For example, children as young as three attend the ecole maternelle. So instead of kindergarten, it's preschool. The youngest children are cared for in the preschool, are given space to play and prepare for elementary school.
This is generally accessible from the age of six and, in contrast to Germany, is an all-day school. In addition, the French school week in the ecole elementaire has only four school days.
After five years, students transfer to a comprehensive school, the college. This is the most popular among all students up to the 9th grade. Class attended. Afterwards, young people have the choice between vocational school, vocational high school and a traditional high school.
Studying in France
In France, there are around 3.900 state and private colleges and universities, from engineering and business schools to art colleges, graduate colleges and universities.
Those wishing to study at a French university usually have to complete an application process or prepare a dossier. European students can do this, for example, with the help of the Parcoursup platform.
German students can also take advantage of exchange programs such as Erasmus Plus or, for example, earn a dual degree at a Franco-German university.
Conclusion: Working in France
The industrialized nation of France therefore has a lot to offer and holds advantages for women and the workforce in particular, for example with regard to the tax system or family policy support and career advancement. Those who want to gain a foothold in the French labor market should, however, be aware of the special features and the sometimes different approach. Traditional companies in particular like to stick to traditional values. Good language skills and intercultural competence are also important: only with good French will employees be able to access the diversity of the labor market.