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Global employment briefing: France - February 2016

  • France
  • Employment law - HR E-Brief

01-02-2016

Compulsory provision of health insurance by employers in France
The safeguarding of employees’ wellbeing is a key focus of French employment legislation. From biannual consultations with employees to evaluate the psychological impacts of their workloads to rights of ‘disconnection’ from work-linked technology, measures are continually being taken within the French legal system to ensure agreeable working conditions for the population. A significant piece of legislation along these lines, forming part of the ‘Loi n° 2013-504 relative à la sécurisation de l'emploi’, entered into force on 1st January 2016 and commits all employers to providing and subsidising a more extensive health insurance scheme for all employees.

Range of impact
This new piece of legislation, first approved in June 2013, will have its greatest impact upon small and medium enterprises. This is because many larger companies already have collective health insurance programmes in place, which will only need checking for compliance with the new regulations, with the prospect of some minor alterations. Small and medium sized enterprises on the other hand may not have such measures in place and must introduce suitable schemes.

Responsibilities of the employer
Under the Act, employers must provide reimbursement to employees for items such as medical consultations, tests and examinations, pharmaceutical expenses and dental and optical fees. In addition, employers are now expected to pay at least 50% of the collective insurance coverage, therefore splitting the cost with the employee (confirmed by the law n°2015-1702 of 21 December 2015).

Cases of exemption
This new system is not only compulsory for employers to provide but also for employees to be enrolled in, in order to fulfil its status as a non-taxable service. Nevertheless, there are exceptions to this which are valid and remain non-taxable if clearly stated in the documentation implementing the coverage (known as the ‘Décision Unilatérale’). These exceptions can include, for example, individuals who were already covered by other insurance.

Conclusion
For employers this change signifies a greater responsibility financially for the wellbeing of employees. However, many larger enterprises in France will have already made such provision and, in making it compulsory for small and medium businesses as well, the Government has levelled the playing field. For employees, the change may mean less freedom of choice in healthcare providers, however, on a larger scale it ensures that all employees in France receive similar financial assistance for medical expenses.

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