European Foundation
for the Improvement of
Living and Working Conditions

The tripartite EU agency providing knowledge to assist
in the development of better social, employment and
work-related policies

EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level policy measures

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

Exceptional purchasing power bonus for essential services employees

Prime exceptionnelle de pouvoir d'achat pour les salariés des services essentiels

Country France , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 02 April 2020 – 31 December 2021
Context COVID-19
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category 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)

Background information

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.

Content of measure

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.

Updates

The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

15 March 2021

On 15 March 2021, at the end of the third social dialogue conference, which brought together the peak-level social partners at national level, the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, announced the renewal of the exceptional purchasing power bonus of €1,000 for all employees for 2021.

Companies will be able to pay it to all employees. However, the Prime Minister said that second-line workers (cashiers, bakers, security guards, home workers, etc.) will be the 'preferred beneficiaries'. 'The idea is to target the bonus on the company's lower salaries', insists the entourage of Elisabeth Borne, the Ministry of Labour, and therefore on the second line jobs.

The bonus will be subject to social and tax exemption up to a limit of €1,000. The exempted amount may be increased to €2,000 when :

  • either the companies 'have concluded a profit-sharing agreement by the end of the year'. The aim is to avoid competition between this one-off bonus and the implementation of a long-term value-sharing scheme;
  • or the branch, or failing that the company, will negotiate the upgrading of second-line jobs (access to training, pay, working conditions, etc.).

Use of measure

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).

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers Companies providing essential services
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Trade unions
Company / Companies
No special funding required

Social partners

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:

  • Only trade unions
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown

Involvement

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.

Views and reactions

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.).

Sources

  • 23 March 2020: Loi no 2020-290 du 23 mars 2020 d’urgence pour faire face à l’épidémie de covid-19 (www.legifrance.gouv.fr)
  • 01 April 2020: Ordonnance no 2020-385 du 1er avril 2020 modifiant la date limite et les conditions de versement de la prime exceptionnelle de pouvoir d’achat (www.legifrance.gouv.fr)
  • 19 March 2021: Liaisons sociales quotidien - Actualité Nº 18266 - Le gouvernement réactive la prime Macron et prolonge les aides à l’apprentissage (beta.liaisons-sociales.fr)
  • 28 April 2021: Gouvernement: « Prime Macron », précisions sur les modalités de versement de la prime exceptionnelle de pouvoir d’achat en 2021 (travail-emploi.gouv.fr)

Citation

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

Eurofound publications based on EU PolicyWatch

19 May 2022

 

Working life in the COVID-19 pandemic 2021

This publication consists of individual country reports on working life during 2021 for 28 countries (the 27 EU Member States and Norway).

Publication

24 June 2020

 

COVID-19: Policy responses across Europe

This report aims to present an overview of both large-scale government measures and collective agreements that impact on large groups of workers.

16 June 2022

 

COVID-19 in the workplace: Employer's responsibility to ensure a safe workplace

Throughout 2021, the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, specific occupational health and safety rules were reintroduced due to increases in infection rates.

Article

16 June 2022

 

Back to work after COVID-19: Testing, vaccines and green certificates

In the second pandemic year 2021, access to one's place of work was increasingly dependent on providing proof of either having been tested, vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 in several countries.

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.