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Bonne année ! France’s 2017 public holidays, time changes

Bonne année and Happy New Year! Best wishes to you all for 2017. I’ll be posting a lot more this year.

Expatica has a good page dedicated to France’s public holidays in 2017.

As you may know, the French tend to look forward to May every year, particularly if those holidays fall close to weekends so they can “faire le pont” (bridge the weekend); i.e., if the holiday is on a Thursday, take the Friday off and make it a 4-day weekend. It is indeed glorious.

You can see a brief review here below.

French national holidays

January 1: New Year’s Day (Jour de l’an)

April 14: Good Friday – applicable only to Alsace and Moselle/Lorraine.

April 17: Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques)

May 1: Labour Day (Fête du premier mai)

May 8: WWII Victory Day (Fête du huitième mai or Jour de la Victoire 45)

May 25: Ascension Day (Jour de l’Ascension, 40 days after Easter)

June 5: Whit Monday – also known as Pentecost Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte).

July 14: Bastille Day (Fête nationale)

August 15: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Assomption)

November 1: All Saints Day (La Toussaint)

November 11: Armistice Day (Jour d’armistice)

December 25: Christmas Day (Noël)

December 26: Boxing Day/St Stephen’s Day (Deuxième jour de Noël): applicable only to Alsace and Moselle/Lorraine.


Important French holidays

March 26: Clocks go forward one hour as daylight saving time (DST) starts.

April 1: April Fool’s Day (Poisson d’Avril)

May 28: Mother’s day (last Sunday in May)

June 18: Father’s day (third Sunday in June)

October 29: Clocks go back one hour (DST ends).


French school holidays

School dates vary according to which ‘zone’ you’re in. The French Ministry of Education maintains a comprehensive list of school holidays in France.

Strikes in France – what to know

France strikes - taken from The Economist (link below)

France strikes – taken from The Economist (link below)

Essential reading from The Economist (May 27)
Article here focuses on all that is going on in France.

Update May 27 from US Embassy Paris:

Full link to travel advisory

“…The following strikes have been announced for the week of May 30:

Rail – The national unions which represents rail workers renewed their call for strikes limiting rail services along the TVG, RER and SNCF networks. An “unlimited strike” is scheduled to start at 9 am on Tuesday, May 31 for a period of at least 24 hours.

Paris-area Public Transportation – The union representing the Paris metro area transportation (RATP) has called for an “unlimited strike” starting on June 2 of all public transportation services, including the Paris metro, buses, and RER trains.

Air – Air traffic controllers have also called for strikes Friday, June 3 to Sunday, June 5 which could result in delays or cancellations of flights originating in France…”

By now, you have probably heard that France has been undergoing rounds of strikes and protests over the past couple months. This is in large part due to proposed labor reforms. Of course most of you know that strikes and public outcry are a way of life in France that most people tend to accept with a shrug.

The Local France has an interesting piece on this cultural reality, as well as countless publications in the past including BBC and Slate. Even The Onion got in on the humor with a fake French protest image back in 2005.

But this time seems to be different: these are arguably the strikes with the most impact in 20 years. Taken with the ongoing “state of emergency” that France has put into place since the November terrorist attacks (and have extended), France has a palpable undercurrent of tension.

For now, what you should know about the strikes: 
These strikes are affecting transportation, oil refineries, nuclear power stations and more throughout the country. The BBC outlines the main points of the proposed reforms here along with more coverage of the action. I’ve laid those out at the end of this post.

The Economist also has an interesting piece on the strikes – anticipating action throughout the summer.

Another useful guide is from the great folks at The Local. Local resources in France for tracking news updates include the SNCF website, which currently states that traffic should start resuming to normal May 27 but to keep abreast of updates. Their travel agency Voyages SNCF also has a helpful resource for train travel updates.

You should also stay abreast of airline travel through your local airline. Aéroports de Paris does have general updates as well for Paris Orly and Paris CDG traffic.

BFM TV, Libération, France 24 and Le Monde are also great resources.

At the time of this being published, there have been clashes reported by protestors in Paris, Lyon, Nantes, Bordeaux and other major cities. Your local embassy should be the best resource for expat nationals living and traveling in France for up to date security information. The US Embassy, for example, has contact info here and updates on their Twitter feed.

Want to brush up on your French travel vocabulary? Try About.com or FluentU.

If you have travel plans to France or are thinking of moving there in the coming year, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so – just do your research and travel intelligently. I have lived in France for 30% of my entire life at different times as an intern, student, grad student, English teacher and employee. It is a place that is dear to me, and I would love for you to also have those life-changing experiences.

Travel smartly, safely and avoid protest areas. Take a lesson from my French friends and enjoy life, drink some wine and sit back to see how this evolves. C’est la vie, enfin.

French labour reform bill – main points

  • The 35-hour week remains in place, but as an average. Firms can negotiate with local trade unions on more or fewer hours from week to week, up to a maximum of 46 hours
  • Firms are given greater freedom to reduce pay
  • The law eases conditions for laying off workers, strongly regulated in France. It is hoped companies will take on more people if they know they can shed jobs in case of a downturn
  • Employers given more leeway to negotiate holidays and special leave, such as maternity or for getting married. These are currently also heavily regulated

Calling all former Teaching Assistants in France for Survey!

One of my most memorable years living in France was as an English Teaching Assistant through a French government program in Lyon, from 2007 to 2008. It’s called Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF).

French Education logo

I taught in a high school and associate’s degree level college in Lyon, and this experience helped shape me professionally and personally for years to come and led to many great opportunities. I met friends from all over the world who were Assistants in other languages. In Lyon’s Académie, there were 12 languages taught.

You can learn more about the Teaching program in France here.

They are currently conducting a survey of former Teaching Assistants now thru May 20th. This will help current and future assistants, and also inform approaches on future possible alumni networks. In fact, the survey is dedicated to forming a “new Alumni initiative of the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF)”.

It takes 3 minutes to fill out – totally worth it.

You can find the survey here.

The message from TAPIF is below. Your input is vital! Thank you.

Bonjour TAPIF Alumni,

We are reaching out to engage you in a new Alumni initiative of the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF). With the objective of better connecting former Assistants de langue en France with relevant employment, educational, and cultural opportunities post-TAPIF, we are collecting information from alumni to inform the design of a nationwide Alumni network with regional Chapters. We are seeking your input, specifically about where you are, what you’re doing, how French language and culture plays a role in your life, and what you might like to gain from a TAPIF Alumni network.

We hope to design a program that helps you connect your experiences in France with your professional trajectory. We ask that you complete a voluntary survey to help us best design and launch an Alumni Network that works for you. All responses will be kept anonymous and confidential. This survey consists of 12 questions and takes less than 3 minutes to complete.

Please complete this survey before May 20th, 2016.

French unemployment rate drops 1.7% in March

France’s economy saw 60,000 fewer jobless claims in March, a 1.7% decline month-over-month. This is the largest monthly rate since September 2000. While this is great news for the economy, the country still has structural problems and issues it must work through over the next several years. France 24 has more on this here. Are you impacted at all by this drop in jobless claims?

France train network has national strikes (again) April 26th

French unions that bring together employees of the rail system, SNCF, is staging strikes around the country today. This is the third such strikes in the past two months. Paris’ RER network is also impacted.

More info here in French. A message from the US State Department’s Paris Embassy is below as well. You can follow news in English on France 24 here. They are running until 8am local time on Wednesday 4/27.

Consult your travel agency or SNCF’s train tracking site for news on delays or cancellations to your travel plans.

France 24 said:

Only half of high-speed TGV services will be running, SNCF said in a statement, along with just 40 percent of all regional TER trains.

Just one in three of SNCF’s Intercités trains will run, while half of all trains on the Paris region’s Transilien network will be cancelled.

RER rail services in the capital are also set to be significantly disrupted, with one train in two running on the RER line B, one in three on line C and D and two in three on line E. RER line A is set to run as normal.

International services are set to be largely unaffected though night trains will not be running, SNCF told the AFP news. It advised passengers to avoid travel or seek alternatives for their journeys wherever possible.

The U.S. Embassy in France informs U.S. citizens that several national unions representing SNCF train and service employees intend to hold a nationwide strike on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 to protest proposed changes to working conditions. Getting through train stations could take longer than usual and lines at automated machines are likely to be long. There could be resulting cancellations and delays to scheduled trains.

Travelers are advised to verify the status of their trains prior to arriving at the station and to allow extra time.

Please consult these websites for information on your train the day of the strike:

www.infolignes.fr

http://www.sncf.com/fr/prevision-trafic

www.sncf.com/en/passengers

http://www.sncf.com/en/news/timetables-traffic-updates

Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.

France investing in its start-ups, launches new visa

The Economist recently had an interesting piece on multiple initiatives (by government and private venture capital investment alike) to encourage a blossoming of start-ups that Paris has not seen in years.

How this impacts you as potential or current expats: “Axelle Lemaire, the (Canadian-born) minister visiting NUMA, has launched a “tech visa” for foreign entrepreneurs.”

To learn more about this visa and the overall project to support French tech start-ups, you can peruse La French Tech.

Also of note: France is embarking on a “Come Back Home” campaign abroad to try to convince accomplished French expats to return to their homeland to help take the start-up economy to the next level.

I’ve included the Economist text below. Have any of my readers attended recent events in France (both Paris and other cities) related to start-up and tech investment?

Reinventing Paris
Start-up city

A capital seen as a museum develops new pockets of high-tech modernity
Jun 13th 2015 | PARIS | From the print edition

THE café is organic, the décor industrial loft-style and the furniture artfully mismatched. This is NUMA, a digital hub in Paris, where facial hair is abundant and ties are non-existent. Perhaps it is insouciance, ignorance or quiet concentration, but when a government minister turns up, nobody notices. A new generation is trying to reinvent how Paris behaves and looks.

It may not be Berlin or London, but something is taking place in the capital’s fringes and deserted industrial spaces. A city with more beauty and heritage than most, Paris is trying to shrug off its staid image. Scarcely a week goes by without an event devoted to start-ups in a converted dock or warehouse in an unfashionable area. On Paris’s eastern edge, Xavier Niel, an entrepreneur who heads a €12 billion ($13.5 billion) communications group, is building a start-up incubator with floor space equivalent to four football pitches. In the first quarter of 2015 a Paris venture-capital firm was joint-top investor in European technology start-ups, with two German companies, according to CB Insights, an American research group.

“There has been a transformation of mentalities in France,” says Mr Niel, who urges young people to take risks, think big and break conventions. “Entrepreneurship is a state of mind” reads a banner at NUMA, also home to Google’s Paris campus. The outlook is anti-hierarchical and anti-conformist. “Our force is cultural chaos,” says Frédéric Oru, a co-director. Another NUMA executive adds: “It’s not very French.”

One reason for change is that the young are no longer drawn to corporate life. Unemployment among graduates is 10%, and one in five of those who create new businesses are jobless. But some just want to do their own thing, away from the strict hierarchies of corporate France. A quarter of recent graduates of HEC, the top business school, have started their own company, up from one in ten a decade ago.

Second, successful entrepreneurs and investors now show what is possible. Mr Niel, who also built a software-development school in Paris, is one. Sigfox, a start-up that runs a cellular network for connected objects, pulled off the third-biggest European tech deal in the first quarter of 2015 when it raised $115m. BlaBlaCar, Europe’s biggest car-sharing service, raised over €100m last year. Incubators with names like TheFamily have grown. Facebook is opening a research centre on artificial intelligence in Paris.

Third, the Socialist government, which once whacked entrepreneurs with taxes, has changed. Instead of lamenting the loss of fine brains, it hopes to lure in foreign ones. Axelle Lemaire, the (Canadian-born) minister visiting NUMA, has launched a “tech visa” for foreign entrepreneurs. A public-investment fund, BPI France, is promoting start-ups. Early efforts to back incubators met “indifference and scepticism”, recalls Jean-Louis Missika, a deputy to the Socialist mayor, because “that wasn’t the image of Paris.” City Hall now wants to show that Paris is not just a living museum.

It is odd that the city lost its reputation for innovation. From avant-garde art to industrial engineering, it used to push the boundaries. The 1878 Paris World’s Fair showcased electric light; in 1889, the Eiffel Tower became the world’s tallest man-made structure. More recently, the urge to preserve has stifled innovation. Yet Paris is learning to reconcile history and modernity. On the edge of the Bois de Boulogne, a park, an elegant glass-and-steel structure designed by Frank Gehry for the Louis Vuitton art collection has met with admiration. Slowly, almost despite itself, Paris is rediscovering an innovative spirit.

Questions with Bupa International about expat issues, moving abroad

January 10th, 2014 No comments

Bonjour!

I will be enhancing my content this year to provide more insight about expat issues.

Bupa International is known for working with international expatriates, employers and families.

They were recently able to answer some of my questions below that are relevant to expat issues. Please see those questions and answers below (note British spelling at some points).

They also recently interviewed me on expat issues, and that article will be posted later.

In addition, I’d recommend checking out their free guide to moving to France, available on this page.

What issues have you seen develop for expat clients moving abroad for the first time? What kinds of information do expats seek?
Moving abroad for the first time can be both exciting and daunting, and the issues facing expats often depend on individual circumstances. Those who are taking their family with them, for instance, may have the added responsibility of finding suitable schools for their children, and so issues can sometimes relate to the standard of education and any potential language barriers they may face.

A recent study from the Daily Telegraph identified the most common issues people moving abroad requested information about. Unsurprisingly, issues such as tax, domicile and residence featured high on the list, as well as information regarding employment, visas and work permits. International health care and insurance is another important aspect of moving abroad, and one which it is crucial to read up on in order to find the best arrangement for you and your family. Many people also enquire about international money transfers and currency exchange, whilst information on the transfer of UK pensions and overseas pensions is also frequently requested.

How easy is it for expats to get coverage for their families while living abroad?
We understand that modern day life can often bring about quick changes, such as moving abroad due to work commitments. Whilst an individual may have personal health cover, it is crucial to ensure the entire family are protected by a suitable health policy. Because of this, we have made it easy to tailor your health cover during your policy, meaning additional family members can be included as and when required.

Does Bupa prefer to work directly with both international and local employers rather than freelance consultants?
We strive to work with local employers wherever possible, but depending on location it may sometimes be impossible to rely solely on local or international employers. Varying legislations around the world mean that some Partners or Brokers may be required in order to give us the coverage needed. Our focus is always on providing the best possible service.

Credits:
http://www.bupa-intl.com/

Lyon ranked best city in France for work-life balance

December 3rd, 2013 No comments

Bonjour, readers:

As you may know, I’ve lived in Angers, Lyon, Grenoble and Paris. While all of these cities have their qualities and drawbacks, Lyon particularly stands out to me as a wonderful city for work-life balance…not to mention its ideal geographic location.

Two recent polls rank Lyon highly for its business acumen and work-life balance.

“Business Friendly”
An October 2013 ranking carried out by the magazine L’Expansion-L’Entreprise found Lyon as the #1 “Business Friendly” city in France outside of Paris.
This ranking is available for download here: Le palmarès des villes les plus « business friendly »

Work-Life Balance
As published by the ONLYLYON organization that promotes Lyon in France and abroad, the business magazine Courrier Cadres seems to agree with me from a November 2013 poll of executives and managers in France.

The full article and study are available on the Courrier Cadres website here. There were a variety of questions asked and sub-categories that the article develops in full detail. An excerpt from the ONLYLYON article is below, and the overall ranking graphic is at the bottom.

ONLYLYON
LYON, VILLE PRÉFÉRÉE DES CADRES
24 nov. 2013 par Marine Lanceron

Le magazine Courrier Cadres s’est intéressé aux villes préférées des cadres. La rédaction a réalisé un sondage pour savoir quelles régions et communes étaient à leurs yeux les plus attractives d’un point de vue professionnel comme sur le plan de la qualité de vie.

Ce sondage nous apprend que près de 8 cadres sur 10 seraient prêts à faire des sacrifices professionnels pour vivre dans un meilleur environnement et 4 sur 10 sont prêts à partir de leur ville ou commune actuelle.

Lyon arrive en tête des villes qui réunit les critères d’opportunités professionnelles et de qualité de vie (24% des sondés), devançant ainsi Nantes (13%), Toulouse (11%), Bordeaux (10,5%) et Paris (6%). Elle semble donc être la ville la plus attractive pour changer de région.

Lyon, ville préférée des cadres pour allier carrière et qualité de vie, selon notre sondage exclusif Par Aline Gérard, le Jeudi 28 Novembre 2013

Lyon, ville préférée des cadres pour allier carrière et qualité de vie, selon notre sondage exclusif
Par Aline Gérard, le Jeudi 28 Novembre 2013

Full disclosure: I’m an unpaid volunteer “Ambassadeur ONLYLYON” for promoting Lyon.

NYT: How France is confronting change

August 27th, 2013 2 comments

The New York Times had a piece the other day talking about the French economy and political system and its confrontation with social realities. “A Proud Nation Ponders How to Halt Its Slow Decline”.

This is certainly not a new theme. Indeed, in my travels and living in France, I often heard the refrain “France changes not by evolution, but by revolution.” It echoes perhaps true today, with a political system that sees its citizens protest in the streets in an attempt to get their voices heard – it’s the French equivalent of citizen lobbying and activism that can come off as much more noticeable than activist efforts through citizen groups like NGO’s in the US.

It’s an insightful read, no matter where you stand in the political spectrum.

Here are the first few excerpts:

The New York Times
Steven Erlanger
August 24, 2013
Memo from France – A Proud Nation Ponders How to Halt Its Slow Decline

“For decades, Europeans have agonized over the power and role of Germany — the so-called German question — given its importance to European stability and prosperity.

Today, however, Europe is talking about “the French question”: can the Socialist government of President François Hollande pull France out of its slow decline and prevent it from slipping permanently into Europe’s second tier?

At stake is whether a social democratic system that for decades prided itself on being the model for providing a stable and high standard of living for its citizens can survive the combination of globalization, an aging population and the acute fiscal shocks of recent years…”

Increase in expat positions globally

As published on Expatica, Mercer’s Worldwide International Assignments Policies and Practices report (WIAPP) found that “Over 70 percent of companies expect to increase short-term assignments in 2013.” Very interesting article and report.

Excerpts below. For full article, click on Expatica link above.
If you’re an expat abroad, how long has your assignment been?
If you’re a prospective expat, how many years would you be comfortable living abroad?

(full disclosure: this is not an ad for Mercer).

The report showed that 55 percent of companies expect to increase long-term assignments and highlighted that, for the last two years, there has been an increase in the overall number of international assignments. The report found that China, United States, Brazil, United Kingdom and Australia are the priority destinations in their respective regions for expatriates.

Mercer’s Worldwide International Assignments Policies and Practices report (WIAPP) also found that more than half of companies reported an increase of long-term (52 percent) and short-term assignments (53 percent) in 2011 and 2010. The WIAPP report presents the latest trends in international assignment programme management, policies, and practices data.

Anne Rossier-Renaud, principal in Mercer’s global mobility business said, “International assignments have become diverse in order to meet evolving business and global workforce needs. Relatively low pay increases in some regions, and pressure on companies to attract and retain talent, have spurred many to embrace a wider range of global mobility strategies to incentivise high performers. Mobility and HR directors now face great complexity in the number and type of international assignments that need managing.”

According to Mercer, the top five reasons cited for international assignment programmes are; to provide specific technical skills not available locally (47 percent), to provide career management/leadership development (43 percent), to ensure knowledge transfer (41 percent), to fulfil specific project needs (39 percent), and to provide specific managerial skills not available locally (38 percent). Close to half of North American (45 percent) and European (46 percent) companies indicate career management/leadership development as one of the main reasons they have international assignments. In the future, worldwide, 62 percent of participants anticipate an increase in the number of technical-related short-term assignments, 55 percent anticipate an increase in talent development assignments, and half anticipate an increase in key strategic assignments.

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