The French Social Security System Introduction

2016

The French social security system is basically a number of statutory schemes:

  • the compulsory general scheme which covers most employees and certain other categories (students, beneficiaries of certain benefits that have progressively come under the general scheme),
  • various "special" schemes covering specific categories of non-agricultural workers against all or some risks (usually old-age, with other risks being covered by the general scheme),
  • the compulsory basic and supplementary pension schemes, the health insurance scheme for non-agricultural, self-employed workers,
  • the agricultural scheme, which covers agricultural-sector employees and non-salaried workers against all risks. The agricultural scheme provisions are similar to those applicable under the compulsory general scheme,
  • an unemployment insurance scheme covering all wage earners and managed by representatives of employers and employees,
  • the supplementary pension schemes, ARRCO and AGIRC, which are compulsory for all private-sector employees affiliated to the general and agricultural schemes.

For more information: http://www.securite-sociale.fr/L-organisation-de-la-Securite-sociale?type=part

The general scheme, introduced in 1945, was initially intended to cover the entire population. The creation of universal coverage was met with opposition however, whether from workers in sectors already covered by a scheme which they wished to maintain, or from self-employed workers who refused to be brought into the new scheme. This will only deal with the general scheme, the unemployment insurance scheme and the supplementary pension schemes which cover all private-sector salaried workers.

Organizational structure

The general scheme is managed by a network of local, regional and national institutions organized by risk and administered by representatives of employers and employees under the supervision of the different ministries with responsibility for social security (the Ministry of Labor issues, the Ministry of Women's Health and Rights and the Ministry of Finance and Public Accounts).

Financing

The general scheme is financed mainly by contributions and taxes deducted from earnings, which account for approximately 80% of total revenue. Contributions are calculated on the basis of percentage rates decided at national level and are borne partly by employers and partly by employees. The two social welfare taxes, the "Contribution Sociale Généralisée" (CSG) and the "Contribution pour le Remboursement de la Dette Sociale" (CRDS) are borne by employees. Current contribution rates and earnings ceilings are given in appendix. The CSG and CRDS are paid on income from employment, replacement income, property income, investment income and gambling income. All persons treated as residents of France for income tax purposes and subject to a French compulsory health insurance scheme are liable to the CSG (at the rate of 7.5% on earned income and 6.2% on replacement income) and the CRDS at the rate of 0.5% on their earnings.

Pensioners in receipt of a French pension and treated as residents of France for tax purposes are liable to the CSG at the rate of 6.6% or the reduced rate of 3.8% if their reference taxable income is below 13,956 €. There is also a 1% tax on their supplementary pension(s) (both compulsory and voluntary).

Persons subject to the compulsory health insurance scheme who are not treated as residents of France for income tax purposes are liable to employees' health insurance contributions at the 5.5% rate applicable before 1st January 1998.

Persons in receipt of a retirement pension who are not treated as residents of France for tax purposes but subject to a compulsory health insurance scheme are liable to a 3.20% tax on their basic pension and a 4.20% tax on their compulsory and voluntary supplementary pensions under the general scheme.

Scope and coverage

The compulsory general scheme covers wage earners in the private industrial, trade, and service sectors.

It is organized into five branches:

Two criteria must be met for compulsory membership in the general scheme:

  • the payment of any type of compensation on which contributions must be paid,
  • the existence of a link of subordination between the worker and one or more employers.

There is also an unemployment insurance scheme, which covers all employees subject to the general and agricultural schemes.

In France, all employers hiring an employee are first required to file a declaration of employment with the relevant institution in charge of collecting social security contributions (URSSAF). The declaration enables registration for social security purposes of employees without a Social Security Number, as well as registration for unemployment insurance purposes. For supplementary pension schemes, employees are registered with the scheme to which their employer belongs which will depend on the company's location or field of activity.

The URSSAF agencies collect and distribute Social Security contributions. They finance the reimbursement of medical care, medical leave, maternity, and industrial accident benefits, and fund basic pensions and family benefits for those covered by the general Social Security scheme.

For more information on the collection of contributions, please visit the ACOSS website.

When an employer with a head office in another country and no place of business in France hires an employee in France to work in that country, that employer is required to report and pay Social Security contributions in France to:

  • l'URSSAF Alsace (Centre national de firmes étrangères – CNFE)
    16 rue Contades
    67300 Schiltigheim
    Tel. : 0033 (0)810 09 26 33 (France and abroad)
    Fax. : 0033 (0)3 69 32 30 08 (France and abroad)
    email: cnfe.strasbourg@urssaf.fr
    www.alsace.urssaf.fr
    For more information

For supplementary pensions, the relevant organization is: