Will New Year changes in France affect expat life

Published:  28 Dec at 6 PM
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Traditionally, New Year’s Day welcomes many changes, with France no exception to the rule.

Expats living in France will be used to minor changes in laws and rules arriving with the sunrise on January 1, with 2017 being no exception. However, most rile changes and price hikes are minor, and won’t disturb most expats’ daily regimes or hit their pockets too hard. For example, the recently-announced minimum wage increase gives a miniscule 11 euros a month, just about enough for a sandwich with fries.

For expats in employment, payslips will now be sent electronically to workers, with paper slips not having to be provided by employers unless specifically requested. For electronically-uneducated expats, the move is likely to cause as much confusion as do the notoriously complicated payslips themselves, and nagging one’s employer may not bring the desired result.

Residents who find themselves responsible for looking after disabled or elderly persons will now be allowed to take three months’ leave of absence from their workplaces. The new rule won’t depend on family links being proven, as it will cover any person requiring special care and assistance.

As part of the new healthcare law published six months ago, patients visiting their general practitioners will no longer be required to pay in advance. From January 1 the new rule will only apply to pregnant women and those needing treatments for long-term illness, with everyone else being brought into the scheme in November 2017.

Social benefits including tax credits for retirees employing home helps and suchlike as well as help for jobless young people will also come into force on January 1. The former will now apply to all pensioners whether or not they pay tax, with annual remittances from the tax man for those who aren’t liable for taxation. Young people between the ages of 16 to 25 who’re having difficulty getting jobs will be given a ‘youth guarantee’ involving 460 euros a month for one year as well as specialist assistance for accessing the jobs market or relevant training programmes.

Inevitable new year price rises include the terrorism tax, gas prices, the diesel tax, bank charges and stamps, but petrol prices are due to fall. Plastic bag bans will be extended, tinted car windows are out after January 1, pesticide sales will be controlled, and food labelling is to be tightened to protect the ‘made in France’ label.
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