New website for self-employed in France shows ‘no common sense’

Union des Auto-Entrepreneurs criticises online ‘one-stop shop’ and how some self-employed missed out on social charges help

The website aims to make it easier for self-employed workers to register, modify or close a business
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A new online platform for registering, modifying or closing a business has been criticised by a union for self-employed workers for being unnecessarily confusing.

The site – – launched in January as a ‘one-stop shop’ to simplify administrative tasks.

However, Monique Sentey, head of the Union des Auto-Entrepreneurs, told FranceInfo that the Urssaf form it replaced took just 15 to 20 minutes to complete.

‘After hours of questions it asks, ‘Are you a fisherman?’

Urssaf is the government body charged with collecting social security taxes across many sectors of business, including most self-employed workers.

“It asked good questions, which enhanced your understanding of your business,” she said.

“The new guichet unique is not intelligent, not dynamic.”

She added that its only virtue was to stop people exploiting opportunities to declare business activities not covered by Urssaf.

“But ultimately, especially for auto-entrepreneurs, it is a problem. The new form seems to have been created by people with no common sense at all.

“For example, at the end, after going through it for an hour-and-a-half, it asks if you are a fisherman. It makes no sense.”

Read more: What is the difference between 'auto/micro-entrepreneur' in France?

‘Legal-speak and daft questions’

She added that although spelling and grammar mistakes found in early versions of the form had been corrected, the language was still difficult to understand.

“It is too bureaucratic and totally disconnected from the way normal people speak and write.”

The government outsourced work on the platform to an organisation looking at intellectual property rights, made up of lawyers. Ms Sentey called it a “casting error”.

She added: “Usually, after filling in a box to say you are an auto-entrepreneur, you would be directed to a simplified version of the form used by big businesses, but not here.

“So now, for example, you are asked if you are filling in the form on behalf of a manager. Obviously, for self-employed people the answer is ‘no’, so it is daft to ask the question.”

Auto-entrepreneur declarations fell after site launch

Ms Sentey said the introduction of the platform in January was followed by a marked fall in the number of people declaring auto-entrepreneur activity in February and March.

She also criticised the way an anti-inflation promise by President Macron to lighten social charges, including for self-employed workers, was implemented.

Read more: Two million independent workers in France to see social charges drop

“In the end, there was a €550 cut in social security contributions – but only for those whose declarations are made after deduction of actual expenses, which is not the case for most auto-entrepreneurs, who have deductions based on a percentage of sales figures.

“For these people, it transpires you only get €86 off contributions in September 2023. This disparity effectively means we are being punished for using the government’s own simplified system. There is no explanation.”

The union is also challenging a change to the calculation of retirement rights.

“Retirement contributions previously paid on the basis of sales are being replaced by one on net income, which will hit many self-employed workers,” said Ms Sentey.

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