New employers take note: in France, there is a cultural expectation that professional development should be available to each and every employee.
In fact, according to the Labour Code, certain employee training is compulsory. French employers must offer training that ensures their employees can properly adapt to the workplace and maintain the ability to retain their jobs, with particular emphasis on technological and organisational developments.
Such mandatory training follows additional principles that include:
- enabling employees to assume different roles under redeployment,
- adhering to relevant collective agreements, and
- complying with a specific contractual obligation to provide training.
How is professional development managed in France?
All French private-sector employees are required to have a personal training account (compte personnel de formation, or CPF).
Valid from the employee’s first job – at age 16 or over – until retirement, the CPF offers a financial entitlement to registered training throughout their entire working life. This entitlement is not affected by the employee changing jobs, or periods of unemployment.
The CPF forms part of the occupational personal account (compte personnel d’activité, or CPA) which is accessible online and helps to secure an employee’s professional career by enabling mobility and freedom of action.
Additionally, all employees are entitled to a career interview every two years, allowing them to review and discuss their professional development with their employer. Every six years the employer is obliged to produce an individual written evaluation, a copy of which must also be given to the employee.
In companies with 50 employees or more, these individual evaluations are used to check that employees have benefited from satisfactory training or career development. If an employee did not receive a career interview and at least one non-compulsory training course and some career or salary advancement, a financial bonus is automatically credited to their CPF account.
How is training funded in France?
When it comes to payment for training, French employers have two primary obligations: funding via payroll (contribution légale obligatoire,or compulsory legal contribution) and financing specific training via the apprenticeship tax.
1. Contribution légale obligatoire
Companies with fewer than 11 employees must contribute 0.55% of their payroll towards training, while those with 11 or more employees must contribute 1%. These payments are pooled, with some of the money being donated to training and professional development advice for job-seekers in France. Some of these contributions also go towards each of their employee’s CPF account.
Employers must pay their entire contribution before 1st March of the following year. If this is not achieved or the payment made is not sufficient, the new amount is increased by the noted insufficiency.
Conventional or voluntary training contributions may also apply: the former by collective agreement and the latter made freely towards an employee’s CPF. Employers should therefore use the mandatory two-year career interview to discuss and review individual training requirements with their employees. Some may allow non-mandatory training to be completed during working hours if such training is funded (either fully or in part) by the employee’s CPF.
2. Apprenticeship tax
Regardless of status, all companies that pay income tax or corporation tax is subject to the apprenticeship tax.
This contributes to the development of apprenticeship and technological training at a rate of 0.68% of the company’s total payroll (note: in the departments of Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin and Moselle the rate is 0.44%).
What about health and safety?
French employers are legally obliged to ensure not only that their employees are safe at work, but that their health is protected. This involves compulsory employee training (as well as certain risk assessments) that must be completed during working hours and paid as such.
It is worth noting that in France, it is not enough for employers to reduce the risk of work-related accidents. They must take active steps to prevent them from occurring altogether.
As such, should an occupational illness or accident occur, the employer could be liable to pay financial compensation if they cannot demonstrate that they took sufficient preventive action. Such failure may also lead to a criminal conviction.
With professional HR expertise that covers both sides of the Channel, our bilingual consultants are extremely well-placed to advise British companies with French operations, or are looking to expand into France.
Please contact us to arrange a free, no-obligation discussion about how we can help.