Questions to ask your future French employer

23rd November 2017

Many British workers move to France each year to continue their career while also enjoying the culture and way of life that is so attractive in this European country. The jobs market can be challenging, particularly for expats, and it is important to have work lined up in advance of any move for personal security.
Some British expats will already have a job through their current UK-based position, thanks to inter-company transfers to some of France’s biggest cities. Others will actively seek employment in their field using online job-seeking agencies, company websites, personal connections or be headhunted specifically for a role. Find out more about the best sector opportunities for expats in France.
However you land your new position in France, there are certain questions that you should ask your future employer before committing to moving to France for that role.

Money matters

It is important to ask about your salary, as relocating to another country comes with a lot of additional costs. The day-to-day cost of living in France is not wildly different to the UK, but the larger cities like Paris can be more expensive due to high accommodation costs and the busy lifestyle.
There are additional costs to bear in mind that you may not have had in the UK. For example, if you are moving with family, then thought needs to be given towards schooling and the cost of that. Private schools can have long waiting lists and high fees, but this may be the only option if you wish to have continuity of education and avoid the language barrier in local schools. You may also need to pay for, or contribute to, comprehensive medical insurance (though you will qualify for the state healthcare system, automatically deducted from your salary).
Salaries are usually quoted as an annual figure, which includes the total amount of money you will earn, including the basic salary and any employee benefits. This is outlined in the contract of employment, so make sure that you read it carefully.
The employer may also offer profit-sharing schemes or bonus schemes based on personal or company performance, which should be queried in advance. Salaries are usually paid monthly and there will be some deductions, including the aforementioned social security contributions, and any insurance or pension contributions. Tax is not deducted at this point, as all households are required to submit an annual tax return and pay tax owed – so make sure any budget includes saving for this. Find out more about the French taxation system.

Health and other benefits

In France, all employees pay social security contributions, which gives access to the country’s good, but basic, national health insurance scheme. However, many individuals opt to have more comprehensive medical cover as the state cover excludes a lot of treatments and has only basic dental cover. Many companies will have their own, more detailed, health insurance scheme that employees can opt in to, so it is worth asking what is available and how much that costs per month. Also ask whether the scheme covers just employees, or families of employees too. A good health scheme can save money over taking out personal private insurance, as well as give peace of mind that key medical treatment is covered.
Employees in France also pay into the French state pension system via their social security contribution, which is compulsory. In order to receive a French state pension, a minimum of 10 years must be worked in the country (and 40-43 years for the maximum pension). Many companies will run voluntary private pension schemes paid through a company savings plan, which can be tax-efficient and help to build up savings. In higher job roles, employees may also be offered employer-paid private pension plans. Ask your future employer what pension schemes they offer.
If the new job is part of an inter-company transfer, ask whether there are any relocation benefits, such as help towards school fees or accommodation costs, as these can help bolster a salary.
Finally, it is worth asking your new employer what they expect from their employees in the office. The French work culture can be quite different from the British work culture. Ask about the company structure and hierarchy, who you report to and how many people are in your team. There is very little blurring of boundaries between job roles, so this helps you to consider what your position is within the company.
Find out how much French you are expected to be able to speak. It is likely that this will have been addressed at the job interview stage, but it is worth a frank conversation as you whether you need to invest in lessons before the move to make for a straightforward transition.
Working hours and dress code are strictly adhered too as well, so make sure that you aware of these, as well as any company traditions and formalities.
If you’re moving to France, find out how our international removals team can help to arrange packing, storage and transportation on your behalf.

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