Thursday, September 22, 2011

Free Legal Advice in Paris

The English Language Teaching (ELT) profession in France has seen dramatic changes over the last 40 years.  In the 70s, we saw a surge in demand for language instruction and an influx of teachers from English-speaking countries.  In the first part of this century, the demand stayed strong, but laws changed and Americans were denied easy-to-obtain contracts.  Today, the profession is in a bit of a low, companies are cutting back on their spending and language schools and travailleurs independents alike are feeling the pinch.

While a crisis is the perfect opportunity to think outside the box, it's not an opportunity to cheat the system or employees.  And sadly, I've heard of too many examples of the latter.

Granted, some language providers were cheaters even before the crisis.  So, hopefully this post will help them break that nasty habit and replace it with something a little more, say, nail biting.

Over a lunch of steak, fries and beer, a dear friend and colleague told me of a terrible legal issue she had.  Her French was good, but not good enough to compete with the person who was clearly cheating her.  Moreover, the culprit had a legal background and used that to further intimidate my friend.  She told me of a tiny shack she stumbled upon in the 14th district of Paris: La Maison de la Justice et du Droit du Secteur Paris Sud . Here, she was given FREE legal advice.

Translation of their website:  La Maison allows everyone to learn about their rights and to assert them in everyday life. Hotlines are organized around the themes of daily life: family law, the protected adults (guardianship, trusteeship), housing, labor, consumption, access to French nationality, immigration law, fight against discrimination. For schedules and making an appointment in the house of justice and law, contact us directly.

With the changing tides of the ELT industry in France, I hope you don't need to pay a visit to the Maison. But just in case - there are lawyers there ready and available to help you - free of charge.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Auto-entrepreneur (a wolf in a sheep's clothing?)

I have been called, cornered and accosted by teachers over the past several months asking me to compare the travailleur independent status and the auto-entrepreneur status.

While I am not an auto-entrepreneur (and cannot become one because I'm already a travailleur independent) I've listed a few pros and cons below following an email conversation I had with a teacher.

Being an auto-entrepreneur has its good and bad sides.

  • The social charges can't be beat - you pay 22% in social charges and don't pay income tax on top of that.  That beats being CDD, CDII and Travailleur Independent
  • You can charge "pre-charges patronales" prices.  For instance, as a CDII teacher, the going rate per hour is about 22 brut.  However, as an auto-entrepeneur, you could bill the school as much as 35 an hour because they won't be paying any social charges on your salary.   - Ask them about that.
  • You have to bill the school and keep track of your bills (and be very very organized).
  • You can't charge any business expenses (metro, lunch, etc).
  • You get very little health coverage.
  • You need to be able to understand the government website to become an auto-entrepreneur which is in French, sign up and report your income to the government.
  • And most importantly:  the auto-entrepreneur status was set up to allow for already self-sufficient professionals and students to have an income on the side. It was not designed for people to live off of as their prime income.  So, if you do this, I strongly suggest you juggle other contracts that are CDD, CDII, CDI, or that you have a spouse who has a CDI. 
Again, it's great to have on the side, but terrible as a prime income status.