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France

Work and Employment - Article 27

Article 27

Measures to support employers
Measures to support workers with disabilities
Discrimination
Employment on the open labour market
Employment in the supported / sheltered sector
Employment in the public sector
Employment of blind and partially sighted women
Self-employment
Vocational rehabilitation and training
Incentive measures to employ workers with disabilities
Legal obligation to employ workers with disabilities
Vocational counselling
Main occupations performed by workers with a visual impairment
Looking for a job
Legal recognition of disabled worker status
Trade unions and workers with disabilities

Measures to support employers

The 2005 Disability Act (“Loi numero 2005-102 du 11 février 2005 pour l'égalité des droits et des chances, la participation et la citoyenneté des personnes handicapées”) is the main legislation regarding measures to support employers in France.

Employers are supported when directly hiring disabled people and when hiring subcontractors from the sheltered sector. A bonus of 1600 Euros is granted to employers who directly or indirectly hire a disabled person for over 12 consecutive months. Up to 80% of the measures taken to hire a disabled worker, including equipment and specific training, can be compensated through public funding. This is also true in the case of measures taken for an employee who has become disabled.

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Measures to support workers with disabilities

The 2005 Disability Act (“Loi numero 2005-102 du 11 février 2005 pour l'égalité des droits et des chances, la participation et la citoyenneté des personnes handicapées”) is the main legislation regarding measures to support disabled workers in France.

Workers with disabilities are entitled to adjustments and arrangements in their working hours and shifts. They also receive priority access to further training and continuing education as part of their current position. In case of redundancy, the notice period concerning a disabled worker is double that which is otherwise used in the company. At last, disabled workers are entitled to early retirement from the age of 55 on the basis of 30 working years with a disabled worker status.

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Discrimination

The 2005 Disability Act (“Loi numero 2005-102 du 11 février 2005 pour l'égalité des droits et des chances, la participation et la citoyenneté des personnes handicapées”) is the main legislation regarding disability-based discrimination in France.

The legislation provides some elements for a legal definition of discrimination. No difference should be made between disabled and able people in terms of recruitment or access to company training. Further, an employee cannot be made redundant on the basis of disability. These acts are considered as discriminatory and can be brought before the courts of justice.

A specific organisation has also been set up, the HALDE (Haute autorité de lutte contre les discriminations et pour l'égalité, or High Authority against Discrimination), which handles discrimination-based complaints.

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Employment on the open labour market

The 2005 Disability Act (“Loi numero 2005-102 du 11 février 2005 pour l'égalité des droits et des chances, la participation et la citoyenneté des personnes handicapées”), the 1987 Disability Employment Act (“Loi numero 87-517 du 10 juillet 1987 en faveur de l'emploi des travailleurs handicaps”) and the French Labour Law (“Code du Travail“) are the three main legislations regarding open labour employment in France.

Under the current legislation, private companies and public offices with a work force of more than 20 employees must hire 6 % of disabled workers. Employers are provided with 3 options to meet this target:
• hiring disabled workers as employees (direct hire)
• subcontracting workers from the sheltered sector (indirect hire)
• paying a contribution fee to AGEFIPH (“Association de gestion du fonds pour l'insertion professionnelle des personnes handicapées“, or Fund for the professional inclusion of disabled people), an organisation dedicated to furthering professional inclusion in the private sector.

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Employment in the supported / sheltered sector

The 2005 Disability Act (“Loi numero 2005-102 du 11 février 2005 pour l'égalité des droits et des chances, la participation et la citoyenneté des personnes handicapées”) and the Government Decree on Sheltered Work (“Décret n°2006-1752 du 23 décembre 2006 relatif au contrat de soutien et d'aide par le travail et aux ressources des travailleurs des établissements ou services d'aide par le travail“) are the two main legislations regarding sheltered employment in France.

The French sheltered sector is made of specific centres known as ESAT (“Etablissement ou Service d'Aide par le travail“, or Inclusion through Work). Sheltered positions are open to people based on an estimation of their working capacity in a given profession (from 5% to 35% compared to an able worker). Many such centres also operate as subcontractors to other companies in the non sheltered sector.

Unlike other sectors which are regulated by the French Law on Labour (“Code du Travail”), the sheltered sector is regulated by the Government Decree on Sheltered Work. Sheltered workers do not have a work contract, and they cannot be made redundant. Instead, they sign a support contract which is renewed every year. This contract includes support measures such as Braille literacy courses or orientation and mobility courses.

Other forms of supported employment are mainly found in the public sector, where particular positions may only be opened to disabled job applicants.

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Employment in the public sector

The 2005 Disability Act (“Loi numero 2005-102 du 11 février 2005 pour l'égalité des droits et des chances, la participation et la citoyenneté des personnes handicapées”) is the main legislation regarding public sector employment in France.

The standard recruitment process in the French public sector is a competitive entry examination. Disabled candidates are entitled to suitable arrangements when sitting such entry test to try and join the civil forces. Alternatively, disabled people may be exempted from entry tests; they may join the civil sector and receive the tenured employee status upon completing a one-year internship instead.

Public offices face the same 6% disability employment target as the private sector. Public services are provided with 3 options to meet this target:
• hiring disabled workers as employees (direct hire)
• subcontracting workers from the sheltered sector (indirect hire)
• As of January 2006, offices who do not meet the 6% target must pay a compensation to a specific fund, the FIPHFP (“Fonds pour l'insertion des personnes handicapées dans la fonction publique“, or Fund for the professional inclusion of disabled people in the public sector). The FIPHFP fund is used to support professional inclusion within public services.

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Employment of blind and partially sighted women.

French law forbids gender-based discrimination. In theory, therefore, disabled female workers enjoy the same opportunity level as their male peers. However, in practice women tend to have slower progression rates while males with a similar skill level tend to be favoured. This reflects a general trend also encountered in the French able work force.

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Self Employment

AGEFIPH (“Association de gestion du fonds pour l'insertion professionnelle des personnes handicapées“, or Fund for the professional inclusion of disabled people) is an organisation dedicated to furthering professional inclusion in the private sector. It receives its funding from private companies that do not meet the 6% disability employment target and pay a compensation fee instead.

According to AGEFIPH, 33 000 disabled people work are self employed in France. Statistics show a marked increase in numbers in the last few years.

The disabled person who is willing to create his or her own job can submit a funding application to AGEFIPH. At this stage, the Counsellors at ANPE (National Job Centre) provide guidance to help define and plan the business project. In addition to working with a Counsellor, workshops are available on accounting, methods or how to target a market. Disabled people receive priority access to these workshops. All this contributes to build the person's project and the AGEFIPH application.

A successful AGEFIPH application means the disabled person is entitled to receive up to 10.675 Euros in funding, providing he or she invests at least 1.525 Euros. AGEFIPH also pays for part of a course in management if the person is willing to undertake such training. Expert Counsellors at AGEFIPH will support each step in the development of the project until completion.

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Vocational rehabilitation and training

All disabled people can receive vocational or rehabilitation training, regardless of whether their disability occurred from birth or later on in their lives. Most of the training courses for the blind and partially sighted take place in specialised centres managed by organisations. Training costs are covered by the national health insurance services (“Assurance Maladie”) while undergoing training participants receive a monthly allowance through public funding. This wage equals that previously earned by the person before he/she became disabled. If the person has never worked before, the allowance amounts to 650 Euros.

If vocational rehabilitation and training concerns a person who is currently being employed, the AGEFIPH can provide funding to both the disabled workers and their employer. AGEFIPH (“Association de gestion du fonds pour l'insertion professionnelle des personnes handicapées“, or Fund for the professional inclusion of disabled people) is an organisation dedicated to furthering professional inclusion in the private sector. It receives its funding from private companies that do not meet the 6% disability employment target and pay a compensation fee instead.

Disabled job seekers receive priority access to training offered through the ANPE (National Job Centre) and may apply for AGEFIPH funding toward rehabilitation or continuing education courses (such courses amounted to 22 million Euros in 2007 or 5% of AGEFIPH's annual budget).

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Incentive measures to employ workers with disabilities.

The French public offices and the various organisations that cater to the blind and partially sighted public conduct various actions and projects in this field. Initiatives to further the professional inclusion of the visually impaired include information campaigns and awareness raising amongst recruiters and employees, as well as Job Days events (“Journées de l'Emploi”) where disabled job seekers and employers can meet.

Many large French companies now have a Disability Officer whose mission is to oversee these matters. Prejudices from recruiters and fellow employees tend to decrease but the low skill level of disabled workers remains the main obstacle to full professional inclusion.

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Legal obligation to employ workers with disabilities

The 2005 Disability Act (“Loi numero 2005-102 du 11 février 2005 pour l'égalité des droits et des chances, la participation et la citoyenneté des personnes handicapées”) and the 1987 Disability Employment Act (“Loi numero 87-517 du 10 juillet 1987 en faveur de l'emploi des travailleurs handicaps”) are the main legislations regarding this matter in France.

Both private companies and public offices with a work force of more than 20 employees must hire 6 % of disabled workers. Employers are provided with 3 options to meet this target:
• hiring disabled workers as employees (direct hire)
• subcontracting workers from the sheltered sector (indirect hire)
• paying a contribution fee to a specific organisation which then uses the funds to further professional inclusion in both the private and public sectors

Private companies pay their contribution fee to the AGEFIPH (Association de gestion du fonds pour l'insertion professionnelle des personnes handicapées or Fund for the professional inclusion of disabled people). In turn, public offices pay their fee to the FIPHFP (Fonds pour l'insertion des personnes handicapées dans la fonction publique or Fund for the professional
inclusion of disabled people in the public sector).

The contribution amounts to up to 600 times the French hourly minimal wage (8,71€ in 2008) for each missing disabled employee. After 3 years, if no effort were made, the compensation fee can go up to 1500 times the minimal wage. These particular provisions are fairly recent as they entered into force in January 2006.

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Vocational counselling.

The visually impaired are a minority group among disabled workers. As a result, outplacement services are often unaware of the specific issues associated with the visually impaired group. To address this issue the CNPSAA (French Blind and Partially Sighted Organisation) recommends the appointment of Visual Impairment Officers at local level in each administrative division (“département”). Such Officers would contribute to the practical work carried out by the CDAPH. The CDAPH (Commissions des droits et de l'autonomie des personnes handicapées) is the instance which is responsible for disabled people's rights in general (it also handles disability compensation matters, pensions, etc). Today there are no such specialist working in this institution.

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Main occupations performed by workers with a visual impairment.

Blind and partially sighted workers are found in diverse branches in France. Many work as clerks, receptionists, masseurs (who undergo the exact same degree training as their sighted peers), teachers (in high schools, universities and in blind institutes or special schools). There are also a number of visually impaired workers in journalism, information technology and the legal professions (lawyers and judges). The secretarial profession tends to become rarer amongst totally blind persons. New career prospects remain difficult to find.

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Looking for a job

Disabled job seekers receive help and guidance from two central organisations.

The ANPE (National Job Centre) provides counselling. Disabled job seekers receive priority access to workshops on CV writing, interview techniques and other related skills held at the ANPE.

In addition, CAP EMPLOI is an organisation that acts as a recruitment agency in that it provides tailored counselling and performs outplacement. The visually impaired make up for 2,8% of the people who receive help at CAP EMPLOI.

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Legal recognition of disabled worker status

In France, the disabled worker status is guaranteed by Article 323.3 in French Labour Law (“Code du Travail”).

This status is delivered by the CDAPH (“Commissions des droits et de l'autonomie des personnes handicapées”, or Commission for the Rights and Independance of Disabled People). The CDAPH is an instance which is responsible for disabled people's rights in general (it also handles disability compensation matters, pensions, etc); it has offices in each “département” (local administrative division).

The disabled worker status is open to those who match the following requirements:
• Workers whose work accident resulted in a disability estimated at 10% or more
• Disability pensioners
• War veteran pensioners
• Holders of a disability card
• Recipients of the Disabled Adult Allowance

The following rights are guaranteed to those who qualify as disabled workers:

• Assistance and guidance from CDAPH in order to find a position in the sheltered sector
• Access to professional training and rehabilitation workshops
• Assistance and guidance from ANPE (National Job Centre) and Cap Emploi(specific recruitment organisation)
• Funding and practical help provided by the AGEFIPH and FIPHFP
• All the provisions otherwise guaranteed by French legislation including the 6%
• disability employment target

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Trade unions and workers with disabilities.

The 2005 Disability Act (“Loi numero 2005-102 du 11 février 2005 pour l'égalité des droits et des chances, la participation et la citoyenneté des personnes handicapées”) is the main legislation regarding this matter in France.

This legislation has strengthened the role played by the unions in terms of disability employment. Measures taken by employers to encourage the hire of disabled workers are discussed and negotiated with the unions. In addition, employers must report on the situation of disabled workers in their company each year.

The major French unions also take part in the CNCPH (Conseil National Consultatif des Personnes Handicapées). The CNCPH is a public organisation made up of members of parliaments, local government members, organisations and trade union representatives. It publishes an annual report on the situation of disabled workers and must be consulted before the publication of any new legislation or regulation on the subject.

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