The French minimum wage (salaire minimum in French), also called SMIC (Salaire Moyen Interprofessionnel de Croissance, or growth cross-sectoral minimum wage), represents the minimum amount (lowest salary) per hour or per month that employers have to legally pay their employees.
What is this amount in 2020 ? Who determines it ? How often does it change ? Read on to have all your questions answered about France’s minimum wage.
FRENCH MINIMUM WAGE (SMIC): 2020 VALUES
Following an automatic augmentation of only 1,2 %, the French minimum wage is set to 10.15 € per hour in 2020 (instead of 10,03 € in 2019). This adds up to 1 539,42 € per month, for a contract of 35 hours per week (standard working hours in France).
This is a government-mandated minimum wage, meaning that no employee attached to the French social security system should be paid less than this minimum pay rate. Employers in France or who employ staff in France and do not pay the minimum wage may be subject to fees and punishment by the French administration.
Every company employing staff anywhere in the continental France, in Guadeloupe, Guyana, Martinique, Reunion, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Martin or Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon must respect these values. There is no variance to the minimum wage depending on the region. This being said, it should also be noted that only in the department of Mayotte the 2020 gross hourly minimum wage amounts to 7,66 €.
YEARLY REVALUATION OF MINIMUM WAGE
France’s minimum wage is covered under French Labour Law, stipulating that the minimum wage must evolve every year on January 1st in order to adapt to the cost of living. Nevertheless, the government can approve additional increases during the year if it chooses to.
While technically the minimum wage in France has been rising every year, the growth has been usually minimal, of around 1 %. This is what is called an automatic augmentation, operated by the French government according to two criteria :
- the consumer price index excluding tobacco for the 20 % of French households with the lowest incomes;
- half the gain in purchasing power for the basic hourly wage of French employees.
EXCEPTIONS FROM THE MINIMUM WAGE IN FRANCE
There are some exceptions to the French flat minimum wage system :
- young employees under 17 years old with less than 6 months of professional experience can be paid 80 % of the legal minimum wage;
- experienced young employees between 17 and 18 years old can be paid 90 % of the minimum wage;
- apprentices can receive anything between 27 % and 100 % of the minimum wage, depending on their age and level of experience;
- interns can be unpaid, but should receive an expense allowance (gratification de stage in French); if an internship lasts more than two months, the employer must pay the intern an minimum allowance, currently set at 3,90 € per hour or 591,49 € per month for a full-time engagement.
Part-time employees on the other hand are not an exception, their per-hour salary cannot be less than the hourly SMIC.
Some industries in France set higher wages based on collective agreements negotiated between employee unions and employers. This pushes up the minimum salary that employers must pay for certain jobs/positions.
HISTORICAL CHANGES OF THE FRENCH SMIC
As already mentioned, the French minimum wage increases yearly (sometimes more than once a year) to reflect the cost of living and economic growth in France. These adjustments are made based on inflation and the average worker salaries for the previous year. For your information, here is a table indicating the evolution of the French SMIC during the past few years :
Date of application
Hourly gross SMIC
Our payroll management platform automatically updates the value of the French minimum wage. Our payroll managers are responsible for verifying the compliance of salary amounts with the legal minimum wage, as well as with collective agreement stipulations, in order to guarantee you a correct pay-slip for every one of your employees.
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If you want to read more about the French minimum wage, or any other related subject, please check out our French payroll e-magazine.