How French pensions will change on September 1st
To say Macron’s pension reforms were controversial is a bit of an understatement – back in 2019 the reforms led to the longest continuous transport strikes ever seen in France. The legislation was paused during the pandemic, but when it was re-introduced in 2023 there followed months of strikes and the biggest street protests in France since 1968.
More than 2 million people took to the streets and there were violent clashes in French cities including Paris, Rennes and Nantes.
Eventually, however, the bill was passed through parliament – using a controversial constitutional tool – and has now been approved by the Constitutional Council and published in the Journal Officiel with a start date of September 1st.
So what actually changes?
The headline fact of Macron’s pension reform was the raising of the pension age from 62 to 64, but in fact the bill also contains several other changes including the end of the ‘special regimes’ that allowed people in certain professions to retire from the age of 52 and changes to pension provisions for carers.
Most of the changes will be phased in gradually, with the first phase beginning on September 1st 2023 and the final phase set to be complete by 2030.
The headline-grabbing change is to the retirement age – the standard retirement age will increase from 62 to 64, in a phased introduction between September 1st and 2030.
While certain workers in physically demanding jobs will still get to retire earlier, the general population will gradually move to a retirement age of 64.
Those who started work early (from age 16), also benefit from an earlier retirement age, since the French system requires 43 years of work in order to qualify for a full pension. People who started work later – eg after extended study – can retire at 67 on a full pension, even if they do not have the required 43 years of contributions.
Foreigners who have a ‘blended’ pension – ie those who have worked in both France and their home country and contributed to pensions in both places
The initial changes from September 1st will affect those born in 1973 or before, and will – depending on your year of birth – extend your working life by between 0 and 3 extra trimesters (or up to 9 months).
Four ‘special regimes’ will end on September 1st – those for employees of Paris public transport operator RATP, the Banque de France, clerks and staff of notaires and the IEG, which represents workers in the electricity and gas industry.
People who start work in those industries from September 1st will go onto the general pension regime, while those employed before September 1st will keep most of their pension benefits, but there will be a gradual increase in retirement age so that for example Paris Metro drivers will retire at 54 instead of 52.
Minimum pension increase
There will be a €100 a month increase in the pensions paid to retirees who were on minimum wage. Pensions will from September 1st be linked to the minimum wage, rather than to inflation and people who have a full career on minimum wage will benefit from the €100 a month increase.
Extension to ‘phased retirement’
The phased retirement scheme allows people who are approaching retirement age to drop down to part-time work and receive part of their pension for the final two years of their career.
At present it is only available to salaried employees, tradespeople (artisans) and retailers but from September 1st that will be extended to civil servants, lawyers and self-employed people who work in ‘professions libéreaux‘ such as journalists.
It will also become harder for companies to deny phased retirement to their staff – employers must reply in writing within two months to any request, providing justification for why this would harm their business. Failure to do so will be taken as agreement.
Heavy work and night work
Employees who undertake physically demanding work get extra ‘points’ on their pensions which allow them to retire earlier than people who do not do physical work. Also taken into account are regular night shifts, since these have significant effects on overall health.
At present employees need to undertake at least 120 night shifts a year to qualify, but this drops to 100 shifts per year from September.
The legislation also provides an enhanced training budget for employees to retrain in a different profession if they work in a role that involves regular tasks such as carrying heavy loads, working in awkward positions or exposure to mechanical vibration.
The pension allowance for people who care for a family member will be extended to include parents of children with a lower degree of disability and people who care for a family member but do not live with them.
There is also an extension to the general scheme so that in addition to spouses receiving a portion of a deceased person’s pension, any orphaned children under the age of 25 can also receive a portion.
Source: the Local