Reader question: I am coming up to the official retirement age of 62. Can I work less and take some of my French pension to keep the same income coming in?
The answer is yes, as long as you have been paying into the French pension system for 37-and-a-half years (150 quarterly paid-up pension subscriptions) and are 60 years old.
For most people this means the two years between the age of 60 and the official retirement age of 62, or for the two-and-a half years before you reach the 40 years contribution mark, which entitles you to a full pension if you started your first job later than 22 years old.
Under an arrangement called retraite progressive, which came into force in April, it is possible to reduce the number of hours you work using money from your pension fund to make up for some of the lost earnings. You still pay into the fund to get a full 40-year pension.
A special effort has been made in the legislation to include independent workers and farmers, instead of the benefits only going to salaried workers.
For salaried workers, the reductions in work time are laid down. You can use retraite progressive to cut your work time between 40% and 80% per week, equivalent to 14 to 28 hours per week, if you are on a 35-hour week contract.
For people on annual contracts (which can include managers), the requirement equals a reduction of between 87 and 174 days per year.
How much will I get?
The amount the pension fund pays out is not fixed – it depends on the pension you will receive after your full 40 years of contributions.
The principle, however, is that if you reduce work by 25% you will be entitled to 25% of your future pension from the fund.
For independent workers, the calculation is based on declared revenue for the last year.
Independent workers can ask for pension top-ups to compensate for between 20% and 80% less revenue due to doing less work, but in the first year will receive 50% of their pension per month, with adjustments up or down being made once the revenue for the full year is declared.
Who can apply - and when?
Employees can only go on the retraite progressive system if their boss agrees, unless they are working in an industry where a collective agreement to allow the system is in place.
There is a six-month delay for the arrangement to be put in place. This means that people who have (or will have) the right number of quarterly contributions on their 60th birthday and who want to take part in the scheme should make the request six months before their birthday.
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