France’s minimum wage is too low at €1,398 net a month - Michelin boss

The number of workers throughout the country on this wage has risen significantly in recent years

A young person hands over money to a man in France.
Almost one in five workers in France were on the minimum wage in 2023
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The head of the tyre manufacturing giant Michelin has pledged that all the firm’s workers will be paid a ‘living wage’, saying France’s minimum salary is not sufficient at €1,398 net a month.

CEO of Michelin Florent Menegaux said that all of the 175,000 workers employed worldwide by the company already do – or soon will – receive more than the minimum salary.

This corresponds to pay rises for around 5% of the Michelin workforce.

“We came to the conclusion that a decent wage should allow a family of four - two adults and two children - [to live comfortably],” Mr Menegaux told Le Parisian

“[Such a family should be able to] feed itself, but also to house itself, look after itself, provide for its children's education, build up precautionary savings, and plan for leisure activities and holidays,” on a single salary, he added.

However, despite their continuing strong performance in the sector, the corresponding long-term costs of the policy mean the company cannot guarantee a secure future of any of its sites across the world, Michelin revealed.

The CGT union, which represents many workers at the company, also said the announcement was a "publicity stunt... designed to attack the minimum wage," to Huffington Post. 

It also denounced the 

This living wage included bonuses, such as a 13th month bonus paid at the end of the year, as well as additional pay for arduous or difficult work.

Despite this, the CEO believes it is more important to provide workers with an ‘acceptable’ salary.

In addition, the ‘living salary’ for Michelin is based on where a person resides, instead of a flat figure for the entire country. 

“We consider, for example, that a decent salary is twice the minimum wage in Paris, and 20% higher than the minimum wage in Clermont-Ferrand,” he said. 

Read more: What is average salary in France? How does it compare with US or UK?

What is France’s minimum wage?

France’s minimum wage (often referred to as the SMIC) for someone employed in full-time work is currently €1,398.69 net.

The gross monthly minimum wage, before social security deductions is €1,766.92. 

This figure is recalculated once a year in January to reflect inflation and other economic conditions (or twice in extraordinary circumstances).

When taking over as prime minister in January this year, Gabriel Attal said one of his main goals was to ‘désmicardiser’ France’s workforce, with too many people earning the minimum salary.

Between 2021 and 2023, the number of people in full-time work earning minimum wage rose from 12% in January 2021 to 17.3% in January 2023 (full figures for the beginning of 2024 have not yet been released). 

Workers on this wage pay very little income tax (aside from social security charges taken at source), which is partly the reason why the government wants to drive wages up in the private sector. 

In addition, however, if a company employs a worker on minimum wage, they themselves are exempt from certain taxes and social security contributions, creating a dual drain in income for the government. 

Read more: See: The new income tax bands for France

How does France’s minimum wage compare to other EU countries? 

France has a high gross minimum wage compared to the rest of the EU. 

Only five countries have a higher gross minimum wage in 2024: 

Luxembourg: €2,570.93

Ireland: €2,146.30

Netherlands: €2,070.12

Germany: €2,054

Belgium: €1,994.18

In some countries such as the Netherlands, however, this is age-dependent.

It is also worth bearing in mind that France’s working week is shorter than in many other countries – making earnings per hour closer – and that there is a comparatively strong social safety net protecting lower-paid workers.

Beneath France, minimum wages drop drastically, with the next highest being Spain (€1,323) and Slovenia (€1,253.90). 

Italy, Austria, Finland, Sweden and Denmark do not have a statutory minimum wage. 

“We have a much higher proportion of our workers on the minimum wage than our neighbours, and that's a problem,” said the prime minister in January. 

In comparison, just under 15% of workers in Germany received the equivalent of the minimum wage in 2023. 

In Spain, up to 2.5 million workers earn the minimum.

Read more: Retiring to Spain or France: what are the main differences?

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