Employment

People who come over here with a job lined up are all set; most of the time, their employer handles the paperwork or at least provides assistance. Spouses or partners will, in many cases, need to find a job. Citizens of countries that are members of the European Union may work in France as a matter of course; all others must complete some administrative procedures before coming to France and obtain a carte de séjour (resident permit) as explained on the Arrival page once in the country. The next step is to pick up a form from the Direction Départementale du Travail et de l'Emploi (which is located next to the Préfecture in Nice). Once this form has been filled in by an employer, one has the right to work. You can get help finding a job: by registering as a demandeur d'emploi (job seeker) with the ASSEDIC (Association pour l'Emploi dans l'Industrie et le Commerce); the Préfecture can tell you which ASSEDIC office you belong to. As soon as you are registered, you can go to the job center nearest you. This is called ANPE (Agence Nationale Pour l"Emploi). Check the Yellow Pages under "ANPE" to locate a job center (use "Antibes" in the city field).

1. CV and Cover Letter

When applying for a job, one needs to submit a CV (curriculum vitae; it's what is known as a resumé in the United States). Even though you may already have what you consider a perfect CV in your own language, the French observe a certain formalism that it would be helpful to respect. The following should appear on your CV in this order:

A CV must be sent to a prospective employer with a cover letter. In this letter, the applicant highlights his or her skills and explains how they could be put to use to benefit the company. The letter should be tailored to the receiving company, whether it be in response to an advertisement or an unsolicited application. This is your chance to show that you understand the company and that your profile fits their requirements. The French expect that the following formalities be observed:

2. Looking for work

One of the more common ways to look for a job is to scan the daily newspaper for help wanted ads. In this area, the daily paper happens to be Nice Matin, and it publishes such ads on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Of course, you can read national papers if your job search is not limited to this particular area.

Another approach is to send an unsolicited CV and cover letter to one or more companies. Daily newspapers carry general company information in the business section, and each Tuesday, Nice Matin includes two pages of information about local companies. Most larger companies will send out information kits upon request; these can be a useful source of information.

The ANPE (mentioned above) is an excellent starting point for any job search. It offers job vacancy boards, reference materials (such as newspapers and other publications), workshops on how to write effective CVs and cover letters, a wide variety of training courses, and free advice. There is an organization that offers similar services, but to executives only: The APEC (Association pour l'Emploi de Cadres).

Many people advertise in the employment wanted (demande d'emploi) section of Nice Matin and other publications, but this is by no means the only type of publicity one can create. Let people know that you are looking for work and what type of a job your are interested in. Networking can be a very effective way of finding work, so talk to friends, neighbors, and any other people you can think of.

Finally, you can register with local recruiting and temporary work agencies. You can find both in the Yellow Pages under "Recrutement (organismes)" and "Interim (agences)".

3. Salary Considerations

One thing we are definitely not going to get into is how much money one typically earns in France for working in a particular position. We will, however say, that you should be careful to look at the full compensation package and not merely at the salary. How much vacation time do you get every year? Five weeks is the minimum stipulated by law, though many companies give more. Is there a mutuelle (complementary medical insurance plan)? Does the company have a profit sharing plan? Does it grant an annual or semi-annual bonus? Is there tuition-assistance for the children? A supplemental pension plan for the employees? You need to include all these (and more) items and not just the salary when thinking about a job offer.

When the French speak in terms of gross and net salaries, they do not mean the same as Americans. Gross salary is the same: the annual salary without any deductions subtracted. However, your net salary is not the same as your take-home salary. The net includes the deductions for the sécurité sociale (which includes medical coverage, disability benefits, retirement, etc.) as well as any deductions your employer may take out for things such as supplemental medical insurance and so on. Note that net salary is still before taxes! It is your responsibility to save an appropriate amount to pay income taxes, community taxes, and property taxes (if you own your own home). Except for very high salaries, one can figure that take-home salary should be roughly equivalent to gross salary minus 30% to 40% (depending on the income).

4. Income Tax

Typically, salary is paid monthly. The amount is approximately the gross annual salary divided by 12, minus 20 to 25 percent (depending on how many deductions one has above and beyond the legally required ones). As stated above, no income tax has yet been paid on his "net salary". In France, an income tax declaration has to be filed once a year, in February. A self-assessment form is mailed to each person; this form must be returned to the tax office whose staff will use it to calculate the tax due. A bill is then sent to the taxpayer. Tax payments are always for the previous year and may be made in monthly installments or in three payments per year. Residents of France must declare all their income, including income earned in another country. To find the address of your local tax office, consult the Yellow Pages under "Administration de l'Economie et des Finances."

Citizens of the United States of America are required to file an income tax return with the IRS, even if they have not earned any income in the United States (this only applies to federal income tax and not to state and city taxes). Citizens of other countries should consult the tax authorities in their country of origin or their nearest consulate or embassy once in France.

5. Pay slips

These are bewilderingly complex when compared to the ones we used to receive in New York. A full sized page is easily filled with several dozen of additions and deductions, not all of which are particularly easy to understand. Since the pay slips are the only proof that certain payments have been made to, for example,the sécurité sociale, they should be carefully filed and retained indefinitely.




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