The anatomy of a paycheck! (#2) Understand more about France with this example of a paycheck !
  • Case : a young professional, hired one year ago, first job, administrative position, annual salary $ 45 000.
  • Employer : a successful investment bank
  • Working time : 162,5 hours/month (full time) if they work more than the mandatory 35 hours, employees (except for top management) can recuperate up to two or three additional weeks of vacation
  • Monthly Salary : $3,719
  • In fact, he/she will actually cash : $2,724
  • But he/she will cost his/her boss : $5,988

This is a French Mystery : to understand it, read below :

 Plus (add to the above mentioned salary):

  • "Supplément familial" (allocation for one child) : $ 105 (required by law)
  • "Acompte 13ème mois" (1/12 of an annual guaranteed bonus) : $ 391 (required by law)
  • Incentive to use public transport $ 28 (required by law) (you can cash it in even if you don't use it)
  • Corporate life insurance plan (half is paid by employer) : $ 67 (company policy)

 Not included various benefits which are paid once a year (all the following are subject to most withdrawals listed below) :

  • "Participation" : part of the net profit of the company which must legally be assigned to employees and blocked (5 years) in a corporate saving fund ; in this case (a very profitable company) , approximately 5 to 6 weeks of salary
  • "Intéressement" : an incentive program to motivate all the staff to reach corporate objectives ; in this case, approximately 1 to 2 weeks of salary
  • Individual bonus : does not apply to this particular case ; for higher ranking professionals, typically 0 to 40% of annual salary
  • Of course, it does not include all the services offered at reduced price by the Comité d'Entreprise

Minus : everything required by law except corporate life insurance plan (which is a policy of the company and applies to everybody) and not including employee's income tax, which is paid separately by employee

Withdrawals from paycheck and direct employer's contribution  $ paid by employee  $ paid by employer
 Contribution to Social Security (health) (as you see, most of it is paid by the employer)
 Contribution to Social Security (retirement) (idem)
 Insurance for work accidents (idem)
 Tax for public social programs
 State family policy programs (idem)
 CSG (tax to finance State social programs) (idem)
 Unemployment (idem)
 Specific unemployment for professionals
 Retirement (additional to Social Security program, specific for "cadres") (idem)
 "Mutuelle" Social Security (private plan) (idem)
 Corporate life insurance plan
 Specific tax for Education (idem)
 For public housing (idem)
For public training programs (idem)
For public transport (worth it - the public transport is good!)


































This is the normal number of lines you'll find on all French paychecks. Sometimes they are even more ! Compare it to an American one !!

UPDATE ! As of January 2017, a legal change considered revolutionary (!) reduced the number of lines from around 40 to around 20 (many taxes are now put together on one line)


 1  Salary + benefits

 2  minus : withdrawals by employer

(does NOT include employee's income tax, paid separately, one year later)
 3 = 1 - 2  Total cashed by employee

 what you get
 4  Taxes paid by employer (in addition to 1)

 5 =4 +1  Total cost for employer

 what you cost your boss
 6=2+ 4  Total taxes/contributions

 (>54% of work cost)

Warning : this page was designed a few years ago. Since that date, legislation has changed a bit and it will have to be updated soon but whatever the changes which happened or would happen in the immediate future, two things are sure : it is now more complicated and more costly for employers (at least as of today Nov. 2015).

  • All the benefits mentioned above result from the law and generally an additional (more favorable) agreement between the company and its unions (see : "partenaires sociaux"). They are considered "avantages acquis", which means it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to suppress them.
  • See an interesting simulation (it's in French but easy to understand)
  • For higher salaries : see the figures for executives in various countries of Europe ; the French government develops specific provisions so that the level of taxes and contributions would not impact the attractivity of France for headquarters of big corporations
  • A French salary slip MUST include the following details :
    • a complete identification of the employer with code numbers APE (Industry Classification System), SIRET (Firm's Identification Number) and URSSAF (Firm's Social Benefits' Number)
    • the identification of the employee with code number Social Security and all necessary elements about his qualification and type of job
    • a recapitulation of "total paid" and "total to declare in your tax form' (it is not exactly the same amount : the latter is a little higher)
    • a recapitulation of vacation and RTT days

 DID YOU KNOW THAT..... ? Although the number of employees who are members of an union is small (less than 10%), unions have a lot of power because, by law, each company (above 10) must have at least one "délégué syndical" and (above 50) a "comité d'entreprise" which must be consulted on any important issue concerning the company ; labor contracts must be signed with one or more of the "syndicats représentatifs" , which means, practically, one or more the the largest national unions : CGT (Confédération Générale du Travail, close to what is left of the communist party), CFDT (Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail, more modern and reform-oriented), CGC (Confédération Générale des Cadres, for professionals), CFTC (Confédération Française des Travailleurs Chrétiens, close to the Catholic church), SUD (younger, fast developing, more leftist), and a few more.

To related pages : working in France (#1), doing business in France (#4), the French Social Security system., history of American firms in France, etc... and See my new section Job Offers

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Harriet Welty Rochefort writes articles and books about France and the French. Order her books :

  • "Joie de Vivre", Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French, St.Martin's Press, New York, 2012
  • "French Toast, An American in Paris Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press, New York, 1999
  • "French Fried, The Culinary Capers of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001

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