There is no specific rule that states a micro-entrepreneur (formerly auto-entrepreneur) cannot work for one client.
However, Grégoire Leclercq, president of the Féderation des auto-entrepreneurs, said the government is clamping down on employers who take on staff as independent workers to avoid social security payments they would have to pay if they were salaried staff.
He said: “If an employer is caught carrying out a policy of salariat déguisé, they risk serious penalties, including jail and financial penalties, and might never be allowed to start their own business again.
“However, the employee will always be regarded as the victim and not penalised.”
Two criteria are used to decide whether this situation exists. One is whether the micro-entrepreneur earns all his income from one client over a prolonged period of time, and the other is whether there is a boss and worker relationship.
This can include working fixed hours, not choosing your own holidays, using the client/employer’s business equipment and working on his premises.
Each case is judged on its own merits. Workers who think they should be employed as salaried staff rather than as a micro-entrepreneur can go to their local Prud’homme, the French industrial tribunal, for advice.
Independent workers can be paid up to 40% more than salaried workers, but they have no rights to sick or holiday pay.
They have only just been given the right to unemployment benefits, though Mr Leclercq said the measure is too restrictive.
“The person has to have been a micro-entrepreneur for at least two years, had a €15,000-a-year turnover, and has to put the business into liquidation judiciare, which is more costly than ceasing activity.”
Sick pay becomes available in the next two years, but Mr Leclercq said access requires adhesion to the CIPAV regime, which may not be beneficial to those nearing retirement.