What changes in France in March 2019

Changes for March include a shift in the kind of eco-friendly home improvement works eligible for an interest-free loan, a rise in cigarette prices, and new rules on scooter licences and workplace equality.

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Interest-free loans for more eco-friendly home improvement

From March 1, homeowners will now be eligible to access the government’s interest-free “eco loan” - known in French as “l'éco-prêt à taux zéro (éco-PTZ)” and capped at €30,000 - that was launched in 2009, regardless of how much work they are having done on their property.

Previously, homeowners who wanted to make changes to their property to make it more eco-friendly, could access the loan only if they were having several works done. This was dubbed “un bouquet de travaux (a bunch/series of works)”.

Now, the loan is accessible even if you are only having one thing done during the works, such as increasing the insulation in the roof, for example.

A new licence training for young scooter drivers

The basic licence for riding a scooter - or a small electric “voiturette”, from age 14 and up - is changing this month. The “permis AM” licence will now require eight hours of lessons instead of seven, and take place over two half-days. The extra hour will focus on road safety and danger awareness.

Minors will also need to be accompanied by a parent. Anyone wanting to pass the licence test will also need to show they have adequate equipment - such as a helmet, gloves, long sleeves - to pass.

French “tech visa” now available to all young start-up founders

Launched in 2017, the “French tech visa” was a type of visa that allowed skilled young people to get a “titre de sejour” in France more easily, if they could show that they were working as part of a new technology-related start-up company.

From March 1, this visa will now be accessible to any “innovative” industry start-ups, not only those related to technology.

Rise in the price of cigarettes

The cost of a packet of cigarettes is to rise by 50-60 centimes this month, in line with health minister Agnès Buzyn’s plans to make one packet cost €10 by 2020. After the rise, a packet of Marlboro - the most popular in France - will cost €8.80.

Equality requirements for smaller businesses

From today, businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees will be required to publish online their score on the “equality index”. This takes into consideration factors such as the gap between male and female employees on pay, promotion, and maternity and paternity leave.

Any business with a score of at least 75% will be deemed “conforming”. Any with a score of less than 75% must conform within three years, or risk financial sanctions.

From September 1 this year, the same rule will apply to businesses for more than 250 employees; and from March 1 2020, it will apply to businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

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