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Recent figures and surveys suggest more and more young French people are heading through departures gate at France’s airports to find work in foreign climes.
And then there are the reports of strikes and mass redundancies – all of which give the impression that France is slowly but surely shutting down.
But while you might hear complaints from sections of the French population about the state of the country, you’re less likely to hear moaning from foreigners who work here.
That’s because many recognize the benefits of working in a country that, even if there’s plenty of strife and strikes going on around them, is still a great place to work.
“Don’t be pessimistic,” Christopher Chantrey from the British in France community organization tells The Local, in a message to anyone thinking about coming to France to find work.
“People should not be put off. It’s definitely worth a try even if it’s just for the benefit of opening your mind and seeing how things work in France compared to the Anglo approach.
“Hopefully we are now seeing signs of an economic recovery too, so things might be looking more positive soon,” he said.
On the job front, it’s not all bad news. There may be record unemployment but there are jobs out there, although temporary contracts are more likely than permanent ones.
“”It’s not all doom and gloom,” Paris based recruiter Megan Ascione, from EuroLondon Appointments told The Local.
“We have been ok this year and I haven’t noticed anything out of the ordinary. If things haven’t worked out for us for some reason, it’s not been because there’s a lack of jobs out there.
“Expats need to keep that in mind. It’s probably similar to the UK. The market is nowhere near as bad as in 2009. There are jobs out there and it’s just a question of finding the right one,” she said.
Another recruiter, Diana Zaharia said from the agency Jobs in Paris told The Local that their Paris recruitment website was one the top performers among their network. “That certainly wasn’t the case earlier this year.”
But if all this hasn’t convinced you then perhaps reading our Top Ten reasons why France is a great country to work in might:
PERKS: Sure, every company around the around the world can offer certain perks in the job, but many French firm actually have an official “perks department” where people are employed to fight for the best perks. If you’re in a company with a “Comité d’Entreprise” you can get your hands on anything from cheap cinema tickets, holiday discounts and a nice wad of vouchers to spend at Christmas.
CANTEENS: French cuisine is great, we all know that, but it’s not just limited to swanky bistros in Paris. Anglos, so used to scoffing down a sandwich, a bag of crisps and a Mars Bar at their desks, are often bewildered at the quality of the grub on offer at staff canteens in French companies. And because they’re subsidized, a decent three-course meal can set you back only €5. And if you don’t have a cafeteria, you should be getting restaurant vouchers than can be worth €10 a day.
UNEMPLOYMENT: Ideally you won’t arrive in France with the intention of being unemployed, but naturally, with lots of short term contracts (CDDs) around, you might spend a period out of work. Which at least financially, shouldn’t hit you too hard if you’ve worked enough to earn unemployment allowance (“le chômage”). This can be the equivalent of a hefty chunk of your most recent salary, even up to around two thirds.
TRAVEL PASS: No one likes to commute to work, and both the Paris Metro and the RER, for example, have a reputation for being mobile cattle pens at rush hour. However, that’s no different to most big cities and more importantly, the big crush doesn’t feel quite so unpleasant if you’re getting half your transport costs paid for you, as is the case for most workers in the capital. And even if your company doesn’t cover it, your monthly pass is a damn sight cheaper than it is in London, for example.
GOING SOLO: Despite what you might hear about reams and reams of red tape, France is actually a great place to set up a business. A recent report by Ernst and Young consultants ranked France as a world leader when it came to making it simple and efficient for entrepreneurs to get a venture of the ground. The country’s Auto-entrepreneur system for the self-employed is heralded by many expats, widely used, and involves very little red tape.
TAXES: “An advantage of working in France is taxes? You must be mad!” I hear you say. Well yes, but as Christopher Chantrey from the group British in France says: “You will possibly pay more in terms of deductions for pensions and health, but you will end up with a net amount that is easily comparable to the UK.” And at least you might have a pension. Also, declaring your own taxes every year puts you in control of your own money, much more than pay as you earn, Chantrey adds.
HEALTH AND HOLIDAYS: These two Hs are synonymous with France. If you’re lucky enough to get a job here at a decent-sized firm, then they will normally cover your health insurance through a “Mutuelle”. They may take a few pennies off your pay slip for doing so, but it’s still a good deal and the standard of care you have access to is worth it. Then there are the holidays, of which France gets the most in the world. Enough said.
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: No one wants to see the French leave France, but recent stats show that more and more young French people are heading abroad to find work. This naturally leaves vacancies back home for those with qualifications, and more importantly English Mother Tongue. French lawyer Jean Taquet says he has seen the careers of Anglo clients take off in France simply because they are native English speakers. Let it be known: You are in demand.
35-HOUR WEEK: Okay, it’s a bit of a myth that everyone works no more than 35 hours a week here. But although it’s not always applied, the law is still in place. In certain companies, it is adhered to or they make up for the fact you may work a 40-hour working week, by giving you more days off. In terms of hours, working in France is also great for those who enjoy a lie-in in the morning. You can go for run, a swim and a massage before bouncing into work at 1O.30am and still be in before your boss.
FIRE PROOF: Perhaps mentioning in a job interview that one of the reasons why you came here was because it’s hard to get fired in France, is not the best idea. But you wouldn’t be daft for thinking it. It may be a little exaggerated at times in the Anglo media, but it is certainly harder to fire people in France. However, it does lead to other issues, like making it very hard to actually get a permanent contract, French lawyer Jean Taquet says. But once you have one, it makes life easier.
– The Local