Heatwaves, Working Conditions And Purchasing Power Bill

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

Heatwaves, Working Conditions And Purchasing Power Bill

Monday promises to be one of the hottest days on record in France as temperatures are expected to hit 40° in some of the 15 departments in the west on red alert. Météo France reported today also that temperatures between June 1 to July 15 in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region have never been so high since observations began in 1947. The data shows an average temperature slightly more than 3°C higher than normal in the PACA area.

While the French Labor Code does not force companies to install air conditioning, employers do have an obligation to guarantee the health and safety of their employees. In offices without aircon, the employer must ensure that the air is renewed and ventilated to avoid an “exaggerated rise” in temperature in closed premises (article R4222-1 of the Labor Code).

In the event of an extreme canicule—as Monday’s red alert—the employer has a new set of obligations, as laid out in a risk prevention document, which has been mandatory for all companies since March 31. An employer must adapt working hours and workstations and, when possible, promote working from home.

Anne Lise Castell, a specialist in labor law, says, ‘The Ministry of Labor states very clearly: teleworking should be favored when possible, to allow for example the employee not to be exposed to heat during his journey time, if he takes public transport or his bike.” She adds that an “employee can nevertheless claim a right of withdrawal” if there is reasonable grounds to believe that he or she is in “serious and imminent danger to his health and safety,” which can “happen if the employer has not put into place suitable means to fight against high heat.”

The heat has not stopped France’s National Assembly from discussing a new bill this week “on emergency measures for the protection of purchasing power.” The bill’s 20 measures are expected to be financed by the amending budget for 2022.

Energy and fuel discounts
Introduced on April 1, the 18-cent fuel discount will be extended until at least the end of September. The rebate will then be reduced to 12 cents on October 1, followed by 6 cents on November 1 and end completely on December 1.

From October, the fuel discount will be replaced with a “worker fuel allowance” for employees who use their car to go to work. Depending on the level of income and the distance travelled, it will work out to between €100 and €300.

The discount extension and new compensation will cost the government €4.6 billion in 2022.

The tariff shield on gas and electricity prices has been extended until the end of the year. Its cost will depend on the evolution of the price of gas.

Audiovisual license waived
The amending finance bill provides for the elimination of the €138 annual audiovisual license fee, effective next fall. The State has promised to compensate public broadcasters but will need to find €3.2 billion.

Basic pensions and social benefits
Retirement and disability pensions under the basic schemes increased by 4% from July 1. This increase, combined with that of just over 1% in January, is approaching the level of inflation, which reached 5.8% in June.

Family benefits, active solidarity income (RSA) and the allowance for disabled adults (AAH) and the solidarity allowance for the elderly (Aspa) will also be increased by 4%, like scholarships on social criteria for students. Some of these social benefits had already seen a 1.8% increase in April.

Food checks
A food check of €100, plus €50 euros per dependent child, will be paid to nearly eight million households in France.

Index point
5.7 million public officials will obtain a general raise, applicable from July 1, of 3.5% of the value of the index point which serves as the basis for their remuneration. For 2022, this measure will cost €3.7 billion.

Macron bonus and overtime
The ceiling of the exceptional tax-free and desocialized purchasing power bonus, known as the Macron bonus, will be tripled. Companies will therefore be able to pay up to €3,000 to their employees and up to €6,000 for those who have set up a profit-sharing or participation scheme. An increase in the tax exemption ceiling for overtime for 2022 rises to €7,500 from  €5,000 per year.

Self-employed workers
A reduction in contributions for the self-employed aims for more equity between with employee contributions, allowing travailleurs independants at the level of minimum wage to earn €550 more per year.

Rent
The benchmark rent index will increase by 3.5% in July and then remain frozen at this level for one year. Personalized housing aid (APL) will also be increased by 3.5%.

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

Nancy Heslin is an established journalist and lifestyle writer. She has been the Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Monaco magazine (bimonthly in English) , since the magazine's 2nd issue . Launched in November 2018, Forbes Monaco is part of the Forbes family, with its 7 million readers and 71 million monthly website visitors worldwide.