A new month in France always brings new dates, rules, and deadlines, and March is no exception. We look at the need-to-know changes happening this month.
Rules for telephone sales and marketing are set to become stricter, with new rules on the frequency of calls and the hours allowed. Marketing reps will no longer be able to call at the weekend or on bank holidays.
During the week, they are only allowed to call from 10:00 to 13:00, and 14:00 to 20:00, and they cannot call the same person more than four times in the same month.
If the consumer has previously given consent to be contacted, then the rules do not apply. However, the seller must be able to prove consent.
If the consumer asks to not be contacted, the seller must cease all communication for two months.
Violation of these new rules may be punished by a fine of €75,000 for an individual, and €375,000 for a company.
‘Red March’ on food prices
Some supermarkets have warned of ‘Red March’, a term used to signal the expected significant rise in some grocery items from March onwards.
In addition to the price increases already caused by inflation, this latest rise is due to the end of the annual negotiation period between supermarket bosses and suppliers.
This always takes place from December 1 to March 1, but this year supermarkets have warned of a possible spike in prices due to the rising cost of raw materials, energy, packaging, and transport.
However, the economy minister denied that there would be a ‘Red March’, and the NielsenIQ institute, which carries out a monthly price watch for consumer association 60 Millions de Consommateurs, said that prices are actually expected to “reach a peak of 15%” in June, rather than March.
Petrol aid deadline
People who are eligible for the €100 fuel allowance cheque, which was introduced to compensate for the end of the petrol pump rebate at the end of 2022, have until the end of this month to claim it.
They will need to do so via an application form on the government website, before March 31.
Public Accounts Minister Gabriel Attal has said that so far, “only four million people” have benefited from the cheque, despite 10 million people being eligible.
Litre of fuel cost capped at €1,99 at TotalEnergies
The fuel supplier’s chairman, Patrick Pouyanné, made the announcement on Wednesday, February 22, in response to pressure from the government.
The cap applies to most fuel types, and will be rolled out at all of the company's petrol stations from the end of February, into March, and will last until the end of 2023.
Currently, less than half of service stations have prices above the symbolic €2 mark, but this is expected to change as crude oil prices rise following the introduction of an embargo on Russian oil three weeks ago.
Energy voucher deadline
March 31 is the deadline for using your energy cheque, if it was issued in spring 2022. This is also the deadline before which you must claim your fuel oil energy voucher if you want to make use of it.
People who heat their homes with wood have an additional month to claim their cheque (until the end of April).
Flu vaccination campaign extension
The winter flu vaccination campaign, which opened on October 18, 2022, has been extended to March 31. Anyone who wishes to be vaccinated against flu can book an appointment for their vaccination.
Cigarette prices rising again
The price of a pack of cigarettes will increased again by 50c on average. The pack of 20 cigarettes from the make Malboro will rise from €10.50 to €11.50.
More increases are expected in 2024.
Increased aid for the installation of geothermal equipment
The aid for the installation of a geothermal heat pump (to replace an old thermal boiler) in individual homes will be increased to €5,000 without income conditions from March 1, compared to the previous €4,000 for the lowest-income households, and €2,500 for medium and high-income households.
The government has said that when combined with aid from other support mechanisms such as energy-saving certificates (certificats d’économie d’énergie, CEE), this means that up to 90% of the total cost of the installation can be covered by the government for the lowest-income households.
End of winter ‘truce’ for tenants
March 31 marks the end of the ‘winter truce’ (la trêve hivernale), during which time landlords cannot evict tenants, or turn off electricity and gas despite unpaid bills.
Navigo: Refund of half a month's travel pass
Ile-de-France Mobilités is planning to reimburse the equivalent of half a month's worth of Navigo passes at the 2022 rate, to compensate Ile-de-France travellers for service disruptions during strikes this year.
Users could be eligible for a refund of up to €37.60, and even a little more for users of certain routes on RER lines B and D.
Applications to receive the refund will be open from March 14 to April 14, on a dedicated website. You will need to prove that you have held a monthly subscription from September to December 2022 without interruption, such as via bank statements that show your payments.
Professional index publication
From March 1, all businesses with more than 50 employees are required to publish their ‘Index de l’égalité professionnelle’. This will show the difference, if any, between the salaries paid to men and women, within their level. The results must also be sent to the Ministry for Work.