The Ministry of Economy reveals revised aid measures for the summer and the rest of 2021

Published on : 01/07/2021 01 July Jul 07 2021

The French government has committed to supporting businesses as the county emerges from the crisis by slowly phasing out business support measures for businesses. The rectifying finance bill presented on Wednesday 2 June 2021 by the Ministers of the Economy and the Budget implements the budgetary provisions allowing to continue to finance in particular Short-time work and exemptions from social security contributions "until the end of the summer". 

In addition, it renews the exceptional bonus, which is exempt from taxes and social security contributions, with slightly different terms and conditions. 

Purchasing power bonus

In accordance with the executive's announcements, the system encouraging the granting of an exceptional purchasing power bonus for employees whose salaries are below three times minimum wage is renewed in 2021. 

The "bonus will be exempt from all social and tax deductions up to a limit of €1,000, which may be increased to €2,000 if the employer implements a profit-sharing agreement or is covered by or engaged in the negotiation of an agreement concerning the workers”.

The objectives of the measure are, on the one hand, to encourage the sharing of value within the company by encouraging employers the ability to grant a bonus to their employees and thus improve their purchasing power and, on the other hand, to encourage the implementation of profit-sharing agreements and the commitment of actions to enhance the value of employees.

As in previous versions of the scheme, the bonus "may be awarded by the employer to all employees or to those whose remuneration is below a certain ceiling". Its amount may be adjusted depending on the beneficiaries' remuneration, level of classification, length of actual presence during the past year or the duration of the work contract.

To benefit from the exemption, the bonus must be paid between June 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022.The exemption ceiling of 1,000 euros can be raised to 2,000 euros:

- if the company implements a profit-sharing agreement on the date of payment of the exceptional purchasing power bonus or has concluded, before this same date, an agreement taking effect before March 31, 2022 ;

- or if there is a commitment by the parties to open negotiations within two months of the signing of the agreement, with a view to improving at least two of the following areas: wages, the nature of the employment contract, health and safety at work, working hours and the balance with personal and family life, training and career development. 

Employers who have such negotiations or are in an industry where negotiations have been initiated may also benefit from the increased ceiling.

The previous measures implemented in 2019 and 2020, have each benefited around 5 million employees, according to the government. 

In the first round "€2.2 billion in bonuses were paid by companies between December 10, 2018 and 31 March 2019". In the second round, €3.1bn in bonuses were paid. 

Short-Time Work

In addition, the bill for 2021 "draws the consequences of the third wave of Covid-19 and the administrative measures to restrict activity throughout the first half of 2021", which has been accompanied by the maintenance of aid measures, writes the government in the explanatory statement.

It ensures the financing of short time work, in particular its emergency regime, whose increased rates, defined by decree, will be maintained, in certain situations, until the end of August.

At the same time, the amounts devoted to the financing of the APLD (long-term short time work) have been revised downwards for 2021.

In total, over the year, the sums allocated to the financing of short time work schemes now amount to 14.7 billion euros.

Exemptions from social security contributions

The text ensures the compensation to the social security of the reductions of levies for the companies most affected by the health crisis, up to 4 billion euros. This sum is intended to finance "the outstanding payments for 2020 and future payments for 2021" linked to the measures for the exemption of social security contributions and payment assistance.

The bill modifies the system applicable to social security levies in order to accompany the recovery. 

Only "employers who remain subject to a ban on receiving the public beyond the month of May will continue to benefit from the exemption until the last day of the month preceding the month in which the ban on receiving the public will end.

Payment assistance

For the others, the conditions set to benefit from the exemptions risked making ineligible for any exemption or aid measure employers who resume their activity and whose turnover would quickly return to the situation prior to Covid. 

This is why the government decided to abolish the exemptions in favor of the sole aid for payment: for employers in the sectors most affected by the economic and health crisis, assistance with the payment of social security contributions, representing 15% of the wage bill [instead of 20% previously], will be maintained as of this month and for a period of three months in order to encourage the resumption of employment. 

The aid would apply to companies in certain sectors with fewer than 250 employees, possibly with an additional condition of loss of purchasing power set by decree.
 

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