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Law on economic growth and activity

The law on economic growth, activity and equal opportunities (or 'Macron' law) was enacted on 6 August 2015 to target all aspects of promoting growth, buying power and employment. Key measures include extending business hours to include evenings and Sundays and the opening up of coach routes.

The French people are in need of faith in their economic future, simplified administrative procedures (notably aimed at promoting the economy and small businesses) and encouragement to set up their own businesses. In order to achieve this, it is important that those concerned be allowed to make their own choices. It is also important that procedures be drastically simplified and serve public interest.
The Macron law is designed to reflect these challenges and thus inject new life into the French economy, making it fairer, more transparent and giving citizens more rights.
The law makes it possible to do the following:
  • Create and develop activity by opening up and simplifying various sectors (regulated legal professions, retail trade, coach route connections) and various procedures (driving license, major development projects, collective proceedings, industrial tribunals, employee share ownership, changing banks). It must stimulate the funding of the real economy through investment, including the transfer of public shares for the purposes of investing in the government's priority areas, simplifying and redirecting employee savings schemes, and employee incentive schemes.
  • Quickly and practically improve the lives of the French people: new coach routes can serve the whole country, businesses and households benefit from numerous simplified procedures, motorway tolls and concessions are becoming more transparent, the industrial tribunal procedure is becoming clearer and less time-consuming and it must be possible for the rates charged by regulated professions to decrease.
  • Acting on behalf of those who are not part of the system. For young people and the most vulnerable members of society, this law will improve or protect access to a number of real rights, notably including the ability to travel all around the country, the right to practice the profession for which they have trained and to settle wherever necessary to do so, and access to reduced-price goods and services by increasing the commercial offering and the transparency of the rates charged by regulated professions.

A number of practical emblematic measures

Two support measures for start-ups
Two employee shareholding schemes have been reformed with a view to supporting and accelerating the development of French Tech whilst alsoretaining and attracting talent in and to France:
  • Start-ups can grant BSPCEs (company founders' share warrants) relating to their own equity to all employees, including those of their subsidiaries. Start-ups produced as a result of mergers may also continue to use this scheme.
  • The government's aim is to develop the awarding of free shares not only within companies but also within SMEs, regardless of innovation, and to all of their employees.
  • The extension of business hours to include evenings and Sundays is an exception, but it is now widespread in international tourist areas (ZTIs) and major stations. ZTIs have been identified through consultation with mayors and primarily concern the main commercial districts of Paris and coastal cities such as Nice, Cannes and Deauville. Shops located within major stations (Paris, Marseille, Bordeaux, Lyon, Montpellier, etc.) are open every Sunday of the year. As of 2016, the mayors of all French cities may allow shops to open up to 12 Sundays per year.
A paid voluntary approach
Sunday working must be on a voluntary basis and must be paid. The decision to be open for business on a Sunday must be approved by the majority of employees. Agreements must introduce measures designed to help employees to achieve a good work-life balance and provide for compensation to cover the additional cost of childcare on Sundays. Evening work in ZTIs will be paid double-time. The employer is responsible for the costs incurred by employees in returning to their homes.

  • 18 months after the law is enacted, an entirely automated service will enable users to change banks more easily, making it free to change the domiciliation of direct debits and regular transfers. The client can authorise their new bank to complete the transfer of transactions by means of a single signature. Banks must inform clients of the mobility services offered. Clients are informed by their original bank, either by email or SMS, when direct debits or transfers are made on their old account for a period of 13 months following the closure thereof.
  • Mobile coverage for all towns: towns located in 'dead zones', where mobile phones are unable to pick up a signal, will have coverage by the end of 2016. They will also have access to mobile Internet. Villages without mobile Internet will have coverage by mid-2017. New sites in rural areas will be deployed as of 2016 to provide additional coverage for inhabitants living away from the centre of the town or village and who do not have coverage.
  • It will be easier for certain legal professionals to practice since those with the necessary qualifications and experience are now free to set up their own practices. All territories should therefore enjoy high levels of professional density. This freedom to set up a practice will be introduced gradually so as not to have a detrimental effect on those already practising. The Ministry of Justice may prohibit the setting up of a practice in certain areas in which those professionals already practising cannot deal with increased competition. The decree on the freedom of those operating in regulated legal professions to set up practices has been published. Initial applications to set up practice can therefore be submitted before summer 2016. Finally, rates and fees are reduced and are now set according to costs.
The opening up of coach routes is permitted for distances of over 100km. Below this threshold, a regulation authority verifies the absence of any negative repercussions on transport options provided by local authorities, such as TER rail services.

One year after the law came into force, the opening up of coach transport routes has proven to be a success:
  • 715 connections every day (274 in September 2015)
  • 180 French towns and airports served (75 towns in September 2015)
  • over 3,000 daily departures and arrivals, including 261 to foreign countries (800 in September 2015)
The fight against illegal working stepped up across all sectors
The law extends the fight against worker posting fraud to the road and river freight transportation sector. Any driver performing international cabotage operations will henceforth be covered by the social regulations and minimum wage in force in France in the sectors concerned. Foreign hauliers who send drivers to work in France without providing the required certification can therefore be prosecuted for illegal working practices.
Furthermore, the law increases the financial sanctions for illegal working across all sectors and allows for the activity of a service provider employing staff on an illegal basis to be suspended in the most serious of cases. The professional identification card lends considerable weight to the fight against worker posting fraud, a source of unfair competition between companies and unacceptable working conditions for employees. Finally, the supervisory authorities and penalties for fighting worker posting fraud have been stepped up. As such, in the event that an employer of workers posted to France fails to comply with their obligation to pay their employees at the minimum wage, the contracting authority or ordering party will be systematically required to pay the appropriate wage in solidarity with the employer of the posted workers. Customs services will be called upon to enforce this.

The fight against illegal posted working is paying off, with the following recorded as of 1 March 2016:
  • 1,300 checks per month on average since September 2015, as opposed to 600 in June 2015
  • 139 fines issued for failure to present a posting declaration, amounting to a total of 675,700 euros
  • 15 prefectural closures of sites seized or initiated
  • An initial suspension of international service in Corsica in early February 2016, concerning two building and public works sites
Co-owners of a building must instruct their property management to have fibre optics installed in communal areas by 1 July 2016 at the latest. All new buildings (collective buildings, housing estates, single-family dwellings) must be equipped with fibre optics and existing collective buildings must be equipped when major renovations take place.

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