What changes in France from January 1, 2019

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A new year and a new month are set to bring changes to life in France, including – from January 1, 2019 – a rise in gas prices, and changes to energy benefits, tax, healthcare, and apprenticeships.

Energy

Regulated gas prices will drop by almost 2% from January 1. The national energy grant will rise by €50, and will help 5.8 million households pay their bills or make crucial upgrades to their home’s heating system.

Retirees

Retired people will see their social deductions (contribution sociale généralisée, CSG) reduced from 8.3% to 6.6% from January 1.

Basic pensions will be revalued to 0.3% less than inflation, and this will also apply to independent workers, public contractors, and disability or illness pensions.

Social contributions on private pensions will rise slightly, with private sector workers being encouraged to work for longer: until at least age 63.

Health and the environment

There will be a cap on the sales prices allowed for hearing aids, at €1,300 per device. The minimum reimbursement amount from insurers will rise from €199.71 to €300.

Phytopharmaceutical products, such as synthetic pesticides, will be banned for individuals and all private gardeners from January 1.

This will apply to stocking, buying, and using the products. Anyone with remaining banned substances will be able to recuperate their losses through special recycling plants.

The price of a packet of average cigarettes – 20 Marlboro Red – will rise from €8 to €8.20.

Supermarket sales

Promotions at the supermarkets will be limited to 34% of the consumer sales price.

This means that “buy one, get one free” sales will now be effectively banned, and will be replaced by “buy two, get one free”. The idea is to balance market forces between producers and distributors (such as supermarkets), and to stop prices becoming so low that farmers and producers receive nothing.

Wages and pay

The minimum wage (“Smic”) is set to rise by 1.5% per hour, taking it from €9.88 to €10.03 gross. The monthly Smic will rise from €1,498 to €1,521, for 35 hours per week. This amounts to a net rise of €16 to €1,204 per month.

Overtime pay will not be taxed or see any deductions, up to €5,000 per year. All workers – including in the public sector – will benefit.

The prime d’activité grant will rise by €90, and will now apply to 5 million households in lieu of the previous 3.8 million. Benefits agency the CAF will pay this from February 5, including to new recipients – if they apply before January 25.

Taxes and finance

Taxing at source will apply to 38 million French households, after the specific amounts were revealed last April and May.

For workers, taxes will be deducted by the employer directly, and will appear on payslips next to the normal social contributions. For retirees, taxes will be taken by their pension society.

Independent workers will make a monthly or trimonthly contribution, based on their income.

Training and apprenticeships

The allowance for extra training will now be calculated in euros, rather than hours. This will be limited to €500 per year per person (€800 for underskilled workers or disabled people), to an overall limit of €5,000 (or €8,000).

Apprenticeships will also be reformed; the maximum age will rise from 26 to 29, and small businesses with fewer than 250 employees will have access to extra help for apprentice training.