Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.
Factsheet for measure FR-2020-14/511 – Updated – measures in France
|Country||France , applies nationwide|
|Time period||Temporary, 02 April 2020 – 31 December 2021|
|Type||Legislations or other statutory regulations|
Ensuring business continuity and support for essential services
– Remuneration and rewards for workers in essential services
|Author||Frédéric Turlan (IRshare) and Eurofound|
|Measure added||12 April 2020 (updated 18 May 2021)|
In 2019, in response to the "yellow jackets" crisis, the government has created an exceptional bonus (up to €1,000) exempt from all social security contributions. This premium is not subject to income tax. This scheme has been renewed in 2020, but is reserved for employers who have set up a profit-sharing scheme in the company's results ("intéressement"). However, this scheme has been modified to take into account the COVID-19 crisis to support purchase power of employees working during the crisis in essential services and all other companies that have stayed open.
According to an ordinance dated 1 April 2020 published in the context of the health crisis, the exceptional purchasing power bonus, that is exempted of social contribution and tax-free, can reach €2,000 for companies that have set up a profit-sharing agreement. Those that do not have one can nevertheless pay the exceptional bonus, but within the limit of €1,000.
On the basis of the Article 11 of the emergency law of 23 March 2020 to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, an ordinance published on 2 April 2020 relaxes the conditions for payment of the exceptional purchasing power bonus provided for in Article 7 of the law on the financing of social security for 2020 (LFSS 2020).
The aim is to encourage companies to make use of this scheme in the context of the epidemic, bearing in mind that the premium can now be paid until 31 August 2020 (instead of 30 June). Companies that do not have a profit-sharing agreement ('accord d'intéressement') can use the bonus by benefiting from these exemptions, if the amount paid does not exceed €1,000. Until now, these companies have been excluded from the measure.
For companies which implement a profit-sharing agreement on the date of payment of the bonus, the maximum amount exempted is €2,000 (instead of €1,000 up to now). The profit-sharing agreement may be for a period of between one and three years if it was concluded between 1 January and 31 August 2020, with the deadline of 30 June 2020 being extended. Initially, the exceptional purchase power bonus scheme allowed its amount to be modulated between employees according to remuneration, classification level, length of actual presence during the year or the working time provided for in the employment contract. The ordinance provides for a new possibility of modulation, depending on 'working conditions related to the Covid-19 epidemic'. According to the Ministry of Labour, this new possibility was intended in particular to give companies the possibility of rewarding more people who, for example, are forced to go to their workplace than those who are not obliged to do so.
So far, only 37,000 companies have paid a bonus in 2020. The Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire call to reward employees 'who had the courage to go to their workplace' despite the health crisis.
Particularly targeted, large retailers seems to have received the message: Auchan, Carrefour, Intermarché, Lidl, Système U and Leclerc have already announced that their employees would receive a bonus of €1,000. The same goes for the 15,000 Veolia employees who remained in the field to manage water and waste, or for 5,000 employees of the Total group.
It should be noted that some companies have not yet made their decision, waiting in particular to assess the effects of the crisis on their cash flow: they now have until August 31 to do so (compared to June 30 initially).
|Does not apply to workers||
Companies providing essential services
||Does not apply to citizens|
Company / Companies
No special funding required
Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:
|Trade unions||Employers' organisations|
|Role||Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative||Consulted|
|Form||Consultation through tripartite or bipartite social dialogue bodies||Unknown|
Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:
Social partners were consulted before the government decided to create the bonus. The renewal of the bonus was announced to social partners on 15 March 2021, at the end of the third social dialogue conference, which brought together the peak-level social partners.
To provide a bonus over €1,000 exempted of social contribution and taxes, the employer have to reach an agreement with the representative trade unions, or if there are no trade unions, with the works council, or if there is no works council, after a vote of the employee.
On 16 March 2021, according to the Ministry of Labour's entourage, the social partners, with the exception of Medef, 'considered that the bonus was a good short-term solution', even if the upgrading of these jobs calls for a long-term reflection (career path, remuneration, etc.).
Eurofound (2020), Exceptional purchasing power bonus for essential services employees, measure FR-2020-14/511 (measures in France), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/FR-2020-14_511.html
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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.