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France to remove one bank holiday to fund elderly care

The French government is expected to announce the removal of one public holiday a year - with no extra pay for workers - as a means to finance increased support for older people.

The measure is controversial. Some say that workers should “show solidarity” to older people and support the move, but critics have rejected the idea that their work should be seen as “volunteering” to finance others.

It is estimated that the removal of one public holiday day (known in French as a jour férié) - and making it an extra “solidarity day” instead - could raise as much as €3 billion for the State coffers, as calculated during last year’s solidarity day on the issue.

In 2004, an annual “solidarity day” on the same issue was chosen to take place on Pentecost (or Whit) Monday. But, since 2008, the day has been restored as a day off work again, leaving businesses free to choose their own days in contribution to the measure.

The removal of another day would likely happen in addition to this existing “solidarity day”.

The government has said that the care bill for older people is set to grow by €6.2 billion by 2024, and will cost an estimated €9.2 billion extra by 2030.

Stephane Carcillo, economist at policy advisor agency OCDE, said: “This would allow us to finance extra care, while also protecting the income of the French public. This will bring in more funds, but others solutions will have to be found.”

It has not yet been confirmed exactly which day would be removed. One member of the public, when asked by news network FranceInfo, said: “Maybe from the month of May? There are a lot [of holidays] then.”

Another member of the public suggested that perhaps a religious day should go, “because we are a secular country”.

The removal of one bank holiday would put France even further behind the European average, but still far from the bottom. Currently, it has 11 official holiday days, one fewer than the European average.

Bulgaria has the most at 15, while the Netherlands has the least, with just eight.

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