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The minimum wage in France—everything you need to know

You’ve heard of SMIC but don’t know what it means? Read on to learn all about how the minimum wage is calculated in France—and much more!

4 min read

You probably already know that minimum wage is the base amount of money an employer has to pay their employees, by law. Wondering what it is in France? Or maybe you’ve heard of SMIC but don’t know what it means? Read on to learn all about how the minimum wage is calculated in France—and much more!

What does SMIC stand for?

SMIC is an acronym of the French phrase Salaire Minimum Interprofessionnel de Croissance, or “Minimum Interprofessional Growth Wage” in English. Created in 1950, its aim was to revive economic growth at the end of the Second World War.

Today, it’s the minimum amount that all employees must be paid, regardless of their status and whether they have a permanent, temporary, or interim contract. It applies to private sector employees, and those in public sector organizations that are subject to private law. Only minors, apprentices, young people with professionalization contracts, and interns can be paid at a lower rate.

The minimum wage ensures that employees with a low income have minimum purchasing power and the ability to participate in the country's economy. 

The minimum wage in France—a breakdown

The minimum wage is set each year by decree, and all information relating to it is available on the French government’s website.

What is the gross minimum wage in 2021?

On October 1, 2021, the legal minimum wage in France increased by 2.2% due to rising inflation. This means that the monthly gross minimum wage now amounts to €1,589.47. Anyone working full time (35 hours per week) must receive at least this much.

What is the net minimum wage for 2021?

In October 2021, the monthly net minimum wage rose to €1,258.

What is the gross hourly minimum wage in 2021?

As of October 1, 2021, the gross hourly minimum wage is €10.48.

What is the net hourly minimum wage in 2021? 

In October of 2021, the net hourly minimum wage rose to around €8.29. 

Want to know if you’re earning less than the minimum wage? To do the calculation, you’ll need to take the following income into account: 

  • Your base salary
  • Your benefits in kind
  • Any performance-based bonuses
  • Tips

However, the following should be excluded from your calculation:

  • Expenses
  • Additional hours worked
  • Bonuses (profit-shares, seniority, vacation, etc.)

Once you’ve added up all the income above, your total should be equal to or greater than the gross monthly minimum wage or the gross hourly wage. If you work full time, you’ll need to refer to the gross monthly minimum wage (€1,589.47). If you practice your profession part-time, you’ll need to refer to the gross hourly minimum wage (€10.48), rather than the monthly one.

To get your wage, remove social social security contributions from the gross monthly minimum wage—approximately 22% of the gross amount.

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Increases in the minimum wage in France

You may be surprised to hear that the French government increases the minimum wage each year. This increase takes inflation into account for the 20% of households with the lowest incomes, as well as half of the gain in purchasing power for the average hourly wage for workers and employees. In addition, the Labor Code ensures that the minimum wage will automatically increase at any time of the year when consumer prices increase by more than 2% compared to the index established when the last minimum wage was set. Finally, the government is free to increase minimum wage at any time, if deemed appropriate.

As such, in January 2021, the minimum wage rose by 0.99%. In addition, since October 1, it has increased by 2.2% following an increase in the household consumer price index—excluding tobacco.

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