Minimum wage in France? What you need to know

TransferWise
23.07.18
4 minute read

With its history, art scene and cosmopolitan cities, it’s no wonder France is a huge draw for expats who are looking for a new home. But once you’ve made a move to a new country, you’ll need to support yourself. If you’re looking for a local job in France, you may end up earning the country’s minimum wage.

Is the minimum wage a living wage in France? Does it increase often? Who’s in charge of setting it? Read on to have all your questions answered about France’s minimum wage.

What’s the minimum wage in France?

France’s minimum wage is €9.76 per hour or €1,480.27 per month for 35-hour work weeks.

Who determines minimum wages? When was the last increase?

France’s minimum wage is covered under French Labour Law, which has been in place since 1950. Statute determining minimum wage includes an obligatory cost of living increase every year, so France’s minimum wage increases on 1 January of every year.

Does the minimum wage vary depending on the region in France?

Minimum wage in France applies in every part of the country. There’s no variance to the minimum wage depending on the region.

Does the minimum wage differ by age in France?

Workers who are under 17 years old and have less than six months of professional working experience can be paid 80 percent of the minimum wage. Workers who are experienced and between 17 and 18 years of age can be paid 90 percent of the minimum wage.

Is there a different minimum wage for apprenticeships or internships?

Students who are doing apprenticeships and have a contract with their employers can earn anywhere from 25 to 78 percent of the minimum wage during their training time. Interns can be unpaid, but will often receive an expense allowance.

Historically, how much has the minimum wage changed over time?

The first legislation for a minimum wage in France called the SMIG (Salaire Moyen Interprofessional garanti, or guaranteed cross-sectoral minimum wage), was passed in 1950. However, during the “Glorious 30” years after WWII, wages increased so rapidly they well surpassed the legislative minimum wage. In 1970, the French minimum wage became the SMIC (Salaire Moyen Interprofessional Croissance, or growth cross-sectoral minimum wage) which increases yearly to reflect the cost of living and economic growth in France. Yearly adjustments are made based on inflation and the average worker salaries for the previous year, and the government can approve additional increases if it chooses to.

What’s the minimum per month you need to make to qualify for national healthcare or health insurance?

There’s no minimum per month that people need to make to qualify for coverage under France’s universal healthcare system. All people in France are entitled to coverage, regardless of their employment status. However, many services are only covered 70 percent by French national healthcare, so many people choose to supplement their universal coverage with private insurance. The cost of private insurance in France varies, as it's set by the companies providing the insurance. Universal national healthcare is managed by the Ministry of Health and funded by residents, who pay rates that are a percentage of their earned income and that are regulated by law.

What’s the living wage in France? How much can you really get by on?

The cost of living in France will vary quite a bit depending on what part of the country you live in. If you settle in Paris, you’re living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. In some smaller cities, like Nantes, rent will cost less than half of what it costs in Paris, on average. One of the biggest hidden costs of living in France for expats is the cost of converting your home currency to Euros.

In Paris, a single person can expect to spend a little more than €10,000 per year on living expenses, not including rent, which can easily more than double that figure. In Nantes, the average cost of living for a single person for a year is €8,448, not including rent, which averages around €500 per month for a one-bedroom flat in the city center.

As you can see, your cost of living in France is largely dependent on the city in which you choose to live. But France boasts one of the highest minimum wages in the world and average salaries that are often above the minimum wage.

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Compared to other countries, is the minimum wage in France good?

Whether the minimum wage is “good” really depends on the cost of living in any given country. But here’s how France’s minimum wage compares to other parts of the world.

CountryMinimum Wage (in US dollars)
France$1,748.85 per month
Canada$7.93 - $10.68 per hour
Germany$1,769.80 per month
United States$7.25 per hour
United Kingdom$9.93 per hour
Australia$508.88 per week
NorwayNo legal minimum wage
SingaporeNo legal minimum wage
Dubai (UAE)No legal minimum wage
Belgium$1,846.11 per month

France is a destination that’s high on many expats’ lists. Whether you’re looking to move there permanently or just spend some time in a new place, good luck with your move!

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