The minimum wage in France - known as the ‘Smic’ (salaire minimum interprofessionnel de croissance) - changes each year in line with inflation. We review how it is set, how much it currently is, and the number of workers who receive it.
The Smic is intended to ensure a balance between wages and purchasing power.
What pay counts towards the Smic?
The Smic can be paid for all kinds of work and schedules in the private sector, and includes employment that is made up of, and/or including:
- Time-based (hourly or monthly)
- Per task
- Per piece
The amount paid to an employee must be at least equal to the minimum wage amount - made up of their basic salary, benefits, productivity bonuses, and tips.
What pay does not count towards the Smic?
Other forms of pay are not to be included in the final calculation towards the Smic, and are considered to be extra (must be paid or managed in addition to a basic Smic wage). These include:
- Reimbursement of expenses
- Extra pay for overtime
- Profit-sharing bonuses
- Seniority bonuses, attendance bonuses or bonuses for special working conditions
- Holiday and end-of-year bonuses (unless paid in monthly instalments)
- 13th month bonuses
What are the differences between the gross and net minimum wage?
The ‘gross’ Smic is the amount before any tax or social security deductions. The ‘net’ is what is left after all tax and social security charges have been deducted. The worker receives the ‘net’ amount.
How much is the Smic gross and net in 2023?
On May 1, 2023, the Smic was €11.52 per hour gross and €9.12 net. This is 2.2% higher than it was in January (when it was €11.27 gross per hour). It was raised due to high inflation rates.
Monthly, it increased from €1,709 gross to €1,353 net in January, to €1,747 gross and €1,383 net in May.
Does the age of the worker affect the Smic?
Yes. Workers over 18 receive more than workers aged under 18 who have less than six months of professional working experience.
- Workers over 18: €11.52 gross
- Workers aged 17, with less than six months’ experience: €10.37 gross
- Workers aged 16 or under, with less than six months’ experience: €9.22 gross
The amount may also be different if the worker is on an apprenticeship contract (contrat d'apprentissage).
How has the Smic changed this year?
Since May 1, 2023, the gross monthly amount has been €1,747.20 and around €1,383.09 net. This equates to €20,814.73 gross, and €16,214 net, based on the legal working week of 35 hours.
As of January 1, 2023, the gross monthly Smic had risen by 1.81% compared with August 2022. This was an increase of 6.6% over one year.
Before May, it was €1,709.28 gross, or €1,353.07 net, based on the legal working week of 35 hours.
What is the annual Smic and how has it changed this year?
As of May 1, the annual gross Smic was €20,966.04 gross and €16,596.96 net. This was an increase since January 2023, the annual Smic rose to €20,511.36 gross, or €16,236 net.
How is the Smic re-evaluated?
The minimum wage may be increased during the year, if the government considers that inflation and/or purchasing power changes require a rise.
This is considered necessary when the monthly consumer price index (excluding tobacco product prices) for households in the first quintile of the standard of living distribution (households in the lowest fifth of income) has risen by at least 2% compared with the index for the previous year.
As well as this, every November a group of experts submits its recommendations to the government on whether the amount should change. The government can decide whether to follow the recommendations or not, and can increase the amount at any time. This is known as the ‘augmentation coup de pouce’ (which translates as a ‘helping hand’ or ‘boost’ increase).
How has the Smic changed in the past few years?
The Smic has increased gradually in the past decade.
It only changed once a year for the years 2013-2020. In 2021 it was re-evaluated twice (January and October), and in 2022 it was re-evaluated three times (January, May, and August). So far in 2023, it has been re-evaluated twice (January, and May).
- In January 2013, it was at €1,430 gross, €1,121 net.
- By January 2016, this had risen to €1,466 gross, and €1,143 net.
- By January 2020, it was at €1,539 gross, and €1,219 net.
- In January 2021, it was at €1,554 gross and €1,231 net. This was re-evaluated in October 2021, and again in January 2022, to hit €1,603 gross, €1,269 net.
- In 2022, the amount was increased twice after January, in May and August. This took it from €1,645 gross and €1,302 net in May, to €1,678 gross and €1,329 net in August.
How many workers in France earn the Smic?
It is difficult to say exactly how many workers take home the Smic, but figures suggest that a significant proportion of the population takes home a similar amount.
For example, figures from Statista show that in 2020, 19.5% of salaries were less than €1,500 per month gross, and 30.2% were between €1,500-€2,000 gross. This is the same amount as the Smic - more or less - and means that 49.7% of people working full time in France make less than €2,000 per month.
Fewer people in comparison make more.
- €2,000-2,500: 18.6%
- €2,500-3,000: 10.8%
- €3,000-4,000: 10.6%
- €4,000-6,000: 6.7%
- €6,000-8,000: 1.9%
- More than €8,000: 1.6%
This means that almost 50% of people in France earn less than €2,005 per month, according to statistics bureau INSEE.