How does the French minimum wage compare to elsewhere in the EU? Find out the conditions for minimum wage in France as well as the average salary expats can expect.
All foreigners holding a work permit in France are entitled to at least the French minimum wage. France’s minimum wage is one of the highest in Europe, with workers entitled to a minimum wage in France per hour of €9.76. Unlike in some other EU countries, the minimum wage in France is applicable to all working adults regardless of age or experience.
While there exists a national minimum wage in France, some industries in France set higher wages based on collective agreements between unions and employers, pushing up the average salary in France that workers can expect to receive in some jobs in France.
This guide explains French minimum wage (or salaire minimum, salary in French) and average salary in France.
You may hear salary in French referred to in several ways:
- le salaire
- les gages
- la paie / la paye
- le revenu (income)
- la rémunération (remuneration)
French minimum wage 2018
France’s minimum wage (known as SMIC) increased slightly in January 2018 to reach €9.88 per hour, or the equivalent of €1,498.47 per month (around €1,160 after tax).
While technically the minimum wage in France has been rising, the growth has been minimal – with the current wage just 12 cents above 2017’s minimum salary of € 9.76 per hour. Previously, the biggest minimum wage hike took place in 2012, when president Hollande increased wages in France by 2%.
In the main, France operates a flat minimum wage system, though there are some exceptions.
People aged under 17 with fewer than six months of experience in professional work can be paid at a level of 80% of the minimum wage until they are 17, then at 90% of the minimum wage until they are 18.
People with apprenticeships, meanwhile, can receive anything from 25% to 78% of the minimum wage depending on their age and level of experience.
In theory, people on work experience do not have to receive the minimum wage, although they should be allowed expenses. If a work experience contract lasts more than two months, companies must pay the intern a minimum amount towards their expenses. This is currently set at €554.40 a month.
In 2016, just over one in 10 private sector employees earned the minimum wage in France, while nearly one in four part-time employees earned the minimum salary in France. It is estimated that the total number of people on French minimum wage is around 1.7 million.
How does minimum wage in France compare?
France is one of only seven EU member countries that pays a minimum wage of more than €1,000 per month, along with Luxembourg, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom.
However, although France’s minimum wage consistently ranks high on the EU’s list, the minimum salary in France remains significantly lower than table-topping Luxembourg, where employees are paid a minimum of around €1,999 per month. You can compare France’s minimum wage against this list of EU minimum wages.
Salary in France
Salary in France is typically paid in 12 monthly payments, but some companies instead pay French wages on a 13 or 14 month schedule within the year, with extra payments in June and December.
Workers must have their salary in France reviewed annually and, depending on the sector, employees either have individual discussions or are represented more widely by their trade unions in pay discussions.
Since 2017, French companies have no longer needed to submit paper payslips unless they are specifically requested by an employee.
French salary conditions under collective agreements
While the French minimum wage applies across the country, in some industries collective agreements and company agreements are commonplace, meaning various factors including French salary and working hours can be set at an industry level rather than government level.
The legal working week in France is set at 35 hours, although in some industries more flexible hours apply under the terms of collective employment agreements. For standard workers, overtime payments are arranged at an industry level.
Holiday leave in France is far in excess of those enjoyed in some other EU countries. Employees are allowed two-and-a-half days of holiday for each month they work. In addition to this, there are 11 annual French national holidays.
Average salary in France
While France has job openings in a range of sectors, some offer significantly higher salaries than others. According to a recent survey, the following 10 roles offer the highest salaries.
- Chief executives
- Organizational development managers
- Financial controllers
- Sales directors
- Regional managers
- IT managers
- Marketing managers
- Project managers
- Branch managers
While it helps to be able to speak fluent French, speaking English as a native language (and especially having a degree from an English university) can be very helpful when negotiating your salary in France. The most common English-speaking jobs listed in France tend to be in the IT and telecoms sectors, but English speakers are particularly sought after in industries such as finance and banking.
Click to the top of our guide to French minimum wage.