New French assault on economic reality: Paid holidays for interns

French Leftists pass social measures meaning, analysts say, not only that interns won't have any jobs, but they probably won't even be able to be interns any more

by the commentator on 25 February 2014 18:08


Leftist French lawmakers on Tuesday voted for a range of new measures to protect interns from "exploitation". Topping the bill was a move to give them rights to paid vacation, the French language Metronews website reported.

The unemployment rate in France is around 11 percent -- record levels -- but youth unemployment is at around 25 percent, a figure that economists regard as a significant underestimate since many young French people have left the country to places such as London, where 300,000-400,000 French people now reside, according to the French embassy in London (now "France's" sixth biggest city).

Economists blame much of this on restrictive labour market policies. Nonetheless, the French National Assembly passed a proposed law on Tuesday restricting companies' manoeuvre still further, this time with reference to the country's estimated 1.6 million interns.

France's English language version of The Local, listed the key elements of the bill as follows:

"Entitlement to the same benefits as employees: Interns wouldn’t be allowed to work longer hours than employees and they cannot be assigned to "dangerous" tasks. Interns would also be entitled to meal vouchers, paid holidays (vacation) and subsidies towards the cost of taking public transport to work.

"Interns to be paid: Pay would be mandatory for any internship exceeding two months. Once the two-month limit is breached the intern would also be entitled to retroactive pay going back to the first day of the internship.

"Labour laws strengthened: The legislation would extend the powers of French labor inspectors who are tasked with identifying and punishing companies that use internships for essentially undeclared jobs. Another provision would shorten to one month the deadline for France’s labour court to decide if an intern status should be converted to that of an employee.

"Limited number of interns: The bill would set a limit on the number of interns that would be calculated according to the number of employees at a company. The ratio would be set by France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat (state council), and is expected to be 10 percent of the company’s workforce. Violations of the limit could be punished with fines."

Economists say that if the new bill makes its way into law, young French workers will neither be able to get jobs or internships, perhaps prompting a further wave of migration abroad.

The news comes on the same day as the European Union said President Hollande's pledge to get the budget deficit below 3 percent in the next two years would not be met.

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