Artisans facing qualification test

Sole traders setting up artisan businessescould face stricter qualification checks fromnext year under new rules

8 January 2014

SOLE traders setting up artisan businesses could face stricter qualification checks from next year under new rules to be presented to parliament.

The rules are part of a small business bill that also makes changes to the auto-entrepreneur regime and will mean that anyone running an ‘artisan’ business requiring qualifications must show proof to the chambre de métiers et de l’artisanat that they (or at least an employee) are properly qualified.

‘Artisan’ work is a broad category of more than 500 trades or crafts of a mainly skilled manual kind, including hairdressers, bricklayers and taxi drivers.

Currently people can register their business at the chambre on the répertoire des métiers
list without proof.

The bill, to be debated in parliament at the start of next year, also toughens registration requirements on auto-entrepreneurs doing artisan-type work – all of them will have to be formally registered, whereas formerly those doing it as a complementary activity were, under certain conditions, not obliged to. People with existing businesses that are not registered would have 12 months to do so.

The bill would also require auto-entrepreneurs working in commercial activities to be registered on the registre du commerce at the chamber of commerce; however, in both cases it is proposed this would be free of charge, unlike people registering under classic business
regimes.

The bill also gives new powers to official bodies (work inspectors, tax and social security officials...) to ask for proof of artisans’ professional insurance where this is required to do their type of work, and it also creates tougher rules on who can give themselves the title ‘artisan’. The latest rules say anyone on the register can do so, whereas the bill proposes that you must provide proof either of suitable qualifications or six years’ experience.

The Small Business Ministry gives the example of someone working as a cordonnier (shoe-repairer), who would be allowed to work but not use the title artisan-cordonnier, unless they met the new rules.

So how are foreign qualifications seen?
In general, EU qualifications of equivalent level are acceptable in France, though in some cases it is necessary to apply for an attestation of equivalence from ENIC-NARIC (see www. tinyurl.com/EnicNaricEng).

Trades for which qualifications are required include, notably, the building trades and various ones involving fresh food, mechanics and hairdressers.

The head of business registration at the Paris chambre de métiers, Lorraine Witner, said:
“We welcome the changes so we can make sure people have the right qualifications and experience. It also means that, in the case of the auto-entrepreneurs doing artisan work as a secondary activity, we can ensure they have not been subject to any bans on working in the sector which we could not do before.
“Before we could make checks only after the person was registered and there was a very lengthy application process to fraud officials to take action, now we can check directly and
stop the person being registered – it changes everything.”

But the fact that auto-entrepreneurs will gain voting rights in chambers without paying to
be on the registers may prove controversial, she said.

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