Travailleur détaché: what is this status?

3 September 2019

Travailleurs détachés (posted workers) are employees from other EU states who come to work in France temporarily. For example, employees of an Italian construction firm might be sent for a specific project.

The practice is sometimes accused of causing unfair competition to French workers.

This is because the employer of a travailleur détaché continues to pay social charge cotisations to the home social security system, at its rates, and the worker remains attached to that system. This can make the firm more competitive than a local one paying higher French social charges although not always as employment incentives can allow reduced cotisations for French firms taking on lower-paid workers.

The employer does not have to apply full French workplace rights to the worker.

A “hard core” of rights must apply, such as the Smic minimum wage but in the sectors concerned (eg. building and industry) many French workers are paid more, meaning the foreign firm may have the financial edge over a local firm tendering for the same job. The status is also controversial because France has the second highest number of posted workers in the EU. 

A report by the Cour des Comptes found there were 516,000 in 2017. Contrary to stereotypes, the largest number came from neighbouring countries – Germany, Spain and Italy – and not eastern Europe.

As of 2022, there will be an EU-wide rule that such workers must receive comparable pay to staff from the host country for similar work.

Conventions collectives on workplace rights in a certain work sector will also be applied to posted workers.

The maximum period for the status is also being reduced from two years to 18 months.

There is thought to be a lot of abuse of the system and that people are retained on the status for too long.

The Cour des Comptes said it is hard to police this and the courts struggle to cope.

Posted workers who live in France have S1 forms for their healthcare and obtain the A1 portable document from their home social security system as proof of their status.

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