Journée de solidarité envers les personnes âgées
The French Journée de solidarité envers les personnes âgées (Day of solidarity with the elderly), established on June 30, 2004 under the government of Jean-Pierre Raffarin, was one where employees work one additional day each year (a day that was previously a holiday), and one for which employers pay the state the approximate value of this day's work in increased employer charges.
The implementation of this new kind of 'worked holiday' has been complicated, and has led to some controversy over its implications for social rights.
Adopted after the 2003 heatwave caused the death of nearly 15,000 people, the revenue from the law is intended to finance actions in favor of elderly people, especially to prevent risks due to excessive heat. For practical purpose, firms transfer the amount of one day of gross salary without wage costs and social security contributions for each employee to the State. Estimated figures led to discussion. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin judged them to be satisfactory. On June 1, 2006, he said that benefits from that day had been "incalculable".
The employer pays exactly 0.30% of employees' gross salary, which is included in employer wage costs. This amount is almost equivalent to one day of net salary. The employer does not have wage costs to pay for that working holiday (because there is no net salary for that day). Thus it results in the employer paying only half the usual rate for one working day for half price and benefits from that day. Over the course of a year, this day is almost equal to (considering a rate of 50% for employer wage costs):
- an increase of 0.44% for working hours for the employee, i.e., a decrease of 0.43% for hourly wage;
- a decrease of nearly 0.23% of hour wage cost for the employer.
The difference between the two rates (0.43 and 0.23), i.e., about 0.20% of hourly cost including wage costs benefits to the State.
Amounts collected by the state
- 2005: €1,950,000,000
- 2006: €2,090,000,000
- 2007: 2,200,000,000
Implementation and reaction
In 2004, this new added working day was imposed by law to be by default on Pentecost Monday, formerly a non-working holiday. Between 2004 and 2008, Pentecost Monday has been worked by numerous employees. Pentecost Monday is still a holiday (but a working holiday). This has been confirmed by the French Council of State on May 3, 2005.
Many people, especially from the Collectif des Amis du Lundi (CAL) activist organisation are against this law which re-establishes in France one mandatory unpaid work day. The French Council of State was consulted over the constitutional position but did not consider the law illegal.
Employer unions points of view:
- the Mouvement des entreprises de France[clarification needed] is in favor of working on this day. In 2006, Laurence Parisot said that working this Monday is "very good". She feels that the government is giving "a bad example" by closing schools and post offices on this day.
- The Confédération générale des petites et moyennes entreprise states that the day "will create inequalities between administrations, big companies on one side, and SME/VSB on the other side. Contrary to the former, the latter will not be able to pay the contribution and offer this day to their employees.
Employee unions point of view:
- Confédération Française des Travailleurs Chrétiens says that "working without wage is equivalent to mandatory or forced work".
- CFDT: "There will be strikes by salaried workers who refuse to work on this day. And they are right to oppose it," says François Chérèque, because these are "mostly employees of small companies and retailers" who will work, whereas "in many places, big companies and administrations, they have been able to negotiate to keep this holiday a non-working holiday."