Payslip in France: How does it work?

Understanding a payslip in France is not easy. You can get confused with all the detailed information and explaining such a payslip can be just as difficult and confusing. 

Although income tax in France is not the highest in Europe, it definitely has one of the highest burdens (for both employer and employee) in the social security domain. Both in number and height of contributions, which is visible on the many deductions shown on the payslip. 

To help out a little, we have broken down a typical French payslip into pieces and explained section per section what it’s about.

The layout of a payslip in France

Reading a French payslip is not only about understanding the numbers. The layout is just as important. On a French payslip, there is a rule of 3. 

The payslip can be broken down into 3 sections: top, heart, and bottom. The example we use in this article represents the payslip for the professional status ‘Cadre’. 

french payslip

1. The top of the French payslip  

We can divide the top of the French payslip into 3 sections as well, namely the employee data, the company data, and the payslip references.

  1. The company data:
    • Company name
    • Address
    • SIRET number: the companies registration number to the French authorities
    • NAF code: assigned according to the company’s main activity and serving the French national institute of statistics INSEE
    • URSSAF/MSA number: the registration of the company to the social security

  2. The employee data:
    • ID number within the company
    • Social security number
    • Bank details
    • Job title
    • Professional status (cadre, agent de maîtrise or employé)
    • Position
    • Coefficient (the level of the employee within the collective bargain agreement)
    • Starting date
    • Seniority
    • Collective bargaining agreement

  3. The payslip data:
    The period this payslip covers, the date of payment, and the validity dates of the employment contract during the period covered by the payslip.

payslip in france

2. The heart of the French payslip

The heart of the French payslip is listed in columns. This again can be divided into 3, see the grey numbers.

  1. Eléments de paie which represent the elements where all the calculations in the French payslip are built from.
  2. The actual calculations namely the base rate (base), the rate (taux) and what exactly is deducted (à déduire) and what will be paid (à payer).
  3. The right column, charges patronales, are the payroll taxes or contributions that the employer makes to your pension.

Also the rows of the payslip can be broken down into 3 parts, follow the red numbers in the image.

  1. Gross salary
    The gross salary (salaire brut) is composed of different ‘labels’ such as the basis salary (salaire de base). The basis salary depends on the number of hours worked during the month and leave taken. In this example, the employee also receives Indemnité télétravail which is an allowance for remote working which is added to the base salary and together forms the gross salary.
     
  2. Social contributions
    The social contributions exist of different elements. The first part highlights the labels. Each of these labels is printed in bold:
    • Santé: health
      The health contribution finances the benefits paid in the event of incapacity for work (maternity, widowhood, invalidity, death) and is paid in the form of daily allowances, reimbursement of care, etc.
    • Accidents du travail & mal. Professionnelles: accidents at work
      There is a fixed rate for each company according to various criteria (number of employees, risks specific to the establishment). This contribution is the employer’s expense and covers risks such as accidents at work, commuting accidents and occupational diseases.
    • Retraite: retirement
      These contributions consist of a salary share (40%) and an employer share (60%). They are calculated in proportion to the salary.
    • Familie: family allowance
      This contribution exists to finance benefits paid by the family allowance funds (CAF) and is at the expense of the employer.
    • Assurance chômage: unemployment insurance contributions
      This contribution is used to finance unemployment benefits. Once an employee has worked for 130 days or 910 hours (approximately 6 months) in the last 24 months, he is entitled to claim benefits when he has lost his job.
    • Cot. statutaires ou prévues par la conv. coll.
      This section is reserved for very specific cases because it is rare that a collective agreement creates a specific contribution, other than the additional social protection contributions already listed in the health section.
    • Autres contributions dues par l’employeur: other employer contributions
      This section aggregates exclusively employer contributions (transport payment, FNAL, autonomy solidarity contribution, social package, apprenticeship tax, contribution to the funding of trade union organizations, etc.). This is a “catch-all” section compiling contributions and contributions with different bases
    • CSG déduct. de l’impôt sur le revenue
      This section shows the contribution exemptions in favour of the employer such as the General Reduction of Employer Charges (so-called the Fillon reduction)
    • CSG/CRDS non déduct. de l’impôt sur le revenu
      Non-deductible CSG: The CSG (general social contribution) is only partially deductible from taxable income. It participates in the financing of social security.
      CRDS: The contribution for the reimbursement of social debt was created in order to finance the amortization fund for social debt (CADES)

      At the bottom you can read ‘total des cotisations et contributions’ which defines the total sum of the contributions. In addition, the employer must also specify the nature and the amount of the other payments and deductions such as restaurant tickets or the assumption of transport costs home-work. As well the autonomy solidarity contribution (the famous employer counterpart of Monday Pentecost which is used to finance the autonomy of the elderly and disabled), or the contribution to the funding of trade union organizations.
       

  3. The Net
    The net is the last part of the heart of the payslip and it works similarly to 2.1, gross salary. The first part represents the labels and the second part the basis, the rate and the calculations, which exist of positive and negative amounts. However, the net can show some surprises. For example, ‘Remboursement de Frais profesionnels’ which is a reimbursement of an expense and therefore doesn’t have a basis and a rate. It’s just an amount. (not in this example).
    • Prélévement à la source (PAS): Withholding Tax
      Introduced in 2019, “Prélévement à la source” it is integrated distinctly at the bottom of the payslip, just before the net payable in euros. The rate chosen by each of the employees is sent by Nominative Social Declaration (DSN) by the tax services.

Eventually ‘Net paye’ is the final amount that the employee finds on his bank account.

French payslip

3. The bottom part of the French payslip

As you can guess, the bottom of the French payslip is composed of 3 elements.

  1. The first element contains the monthly summary and the yearly summary. The elements that are represented in these summaries are:
    • The hours worked (Jours)
    • The overtime (not in this example)
    • Gross salary (Brut)
    • Social security ceiling (Plafond S.S.)
    • Net income tax (Net imposable)
    • Employer contributions (Patronales)
    • Employer total cost (Coût global)
    • Employer total payment (Total versé)
    • Employer social contribution relief (Allégements)

       

  2. The second element exists of the ‘conges’, the counters. Each counter is composed of the acquired elements, the elements used, and the elements left to be used. This can be the vacation days acquired in the previous year and the ones in the current year.

  3. Then we get to the last part of the entire payslip, the NET PAYÉ, the net to be paid. The date of the payment and the method of the payment is written below.

French payslip

Can we help you out?

All our information is by nature generic. They do not take your personal situation into account and in no way constitute personalized recommendations. Would you like to get help reading a French payslip or are you looking for HR support in France? Let us guide you.
Get in touch via the contact form below! 

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