The French Social Security System Introduction

2021

This overview 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 national, regional, and local institutions organized by risk and administered by representatives of employers and employees under the supervision of the different ministries in charge of social security (the Ministry for Solidarity and Health and the Ministry of Economy, Finance, and Economic Recovery).

Financing

Approximately 80% of the general scheme's total revenue comes from contributions and taxes deducted from earnings (please refer to the detailed table.).

Source : Social Security Accounts Committee (“Commission des Comptes de la Sécurité Sociale”), June 2020

Contributions are calculated on the basis of percentage rates decided at the national level and are borne partly by employers and partly by employees.

Earmarked taxes (“Impôts et taxes affectés”/ ITAF) are mandatory withholdings that are explicitly earmarked for social security financing. These include the General Social Contribution (“Cotisation Sociale Généralisée”/ CSG) which alone amounts to more than half of all ITAF.

The General Social Contribution ( "Contribution Sociale Généralisée" /CSG) and the Social Debt Repayment Contribution (“Contribution pour le Remboursement de la Dette Sociale/ CRDS) are paid on employment income, 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 CRDS (0.5%) and to CSG at the following rates:

  • 9.2% on employment income,
  • 6.2% on replacement income (daily sickness benefits or unemployment benefits)

Individuals drawing a French pension are either exempted from or liable to CSG, CRDS and/or Casa ("Contribution Additionnelle de Solidarité pour l'Autonomie", Additional Solidarity Contribution for Autonomy) as determined by their reference taxable income. (“revenu fiscal de référence”/ RFR):

Reference taxable income for 2019
(for a single tax unit)
Deduction rate
11,408 € or less No deductions
Between 11,409 € and 14,914 € Reduced-rate CSG : 3.8%
CRDS : 0.5%
Between 14,915 € and 23,146 € CSG at the new reduced rate*: 6.6%
CRDS : 0.5%
CASA : 0.3%
23,146 € and up Full-rate CSG : 8.3% CRDS : 0.5% CASA : 0.3%

In addition, a 1% health insurance contribution withholding is also applied to both compulsory and non-compulsory supplementary pension schemes.

Persons in receipt of a retirement pension who are not tax residents of France but have compulsory membership in a French health insurance scheme are liable to a 3.2% withholding on their basic pension and a 4.2 % withholding on their compulsory and voluntary supplementary pensions under the general scheme.

However, persons with compulsory membership in a French health insurance scheme who are not tax residents of France are liable to employees' health insurance contributions at a rate of 5.5 %1 on employment income.

1 - The elimination of the employee's health insurance contribution under the social security financing law for 2018 does not apply to non-residents.

Scope and coverage

The compulsory general scheme covers wage earners in the private industrial, trade, and service sectors. As from 2018, its scope has been extended to include self-employed workers and the private-practice professions (for health insurance).

It is organized into five branches:

Two criteria must be met for compulsory membership in the salaried workers' scheme:

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

There is also an unemployment insurance scheme, which covers all employees who come under the general and agricultural schemes.

In France, all employers hiring an employee are first required to file a pre-employment declaration (“déclaration préalable à l'embauche”/ DPAE) 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 line of business.

The URSSAF agencies collect and distribute Social Security contributions and charges. 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 France's general Social Security scheme.

More information on the collection of contributions is available on 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 the hire and pay Social Security contributions in France to:

  • l'URSSAF Alsace (Centre national des firmes étrangères – CNFE)
    16 rue Contades
    67945 Strasbourg CEDEX 9
    Telephone: 0806 802 633 (from France)
    00 33 806 80 26 33 (from outside of France)
    email: cnfe.strasbourg@urssaf.fr
    https://www.cnfe-urssaf.eu/

For supplementary pensions, the relevant organization is:

  • Malakoff Humanis
    CRE-Ircafex
    21 rue Roger Salengro
    94137 Fontenay sous Bois Cedex
    Tel : + 33 (0)1 58 82 72 12
    email : international@humanis.com

For more information for businesses based outside France.