Casual Labour in France

Understand the Cheque Emploi Service Universel (CESU) method of paying for domestic workers: how to register and use it regardless of whether you are an employer or employee...

Working as “casual labour”, a concept common in anglophone countries, is illegal in France. Any incomes earned in France must be declared by both the employer and the employee, however informally or irregularly this employment may occur. In the eyes of the law, as soon as anybody earns anything, from the first euro cent, they are obliged to declare it to URSSAF. This includes earnings received from work as, for example, a baby-sitter, cleaner or gardener. There are two systems with slightly different functions which allow people to legally employ and easily pay and declare casual or part time workers or employees.

  1. CESU (Chèque Emploi Service Universel): Employment cheques for private individuals who employ someone for personal services (cleaning, gardening, private lessons, helping the disabled)
  2. The TESE (Titre Emploi Service Entreprise) is a service aimed to simplify the social formalities connected with employing staff.

CESU: Chèque Emploi Service Universel

The CESU is a very simple system for the legal employment and payment of domestic and temporary workers, part time help and casual labour around the home and garden.

  • CESU (in French) Tel: 0820 00 23 78 (0.12€/min)
Using the Chèque Emploi means that both employer and employee are acting legally, automatically insured for accident in the home as well as being eligible for tax rebates (the employer) and social security (the employee) benefits. A work contract between an employer and employee is not necessary for a work period of less than eight hours a week although it is recommended. The CESU takes the place of a work contract in this case. Note: the employer must make sure that the employee agrees to be paid in this way.

CESU: How it works

To enter the system an employer must first register with their local branch of URSSAF in the Chèque Emploi Service department. This can also be done via an application at the bank that manages their account, or online. Authorisation must be given to deduct the social security payments from that account.

Declaration of the employee can be done online, on a volet papier or by using a CESU cheque. The chéquier CESU can be ordered from banks. A book of 20 cheques with 20 declaration forms (volets sociaux) and a set of pre-addressed envelopes for URSSAF's CESU centre is issued. In filling out the cheque correctly, an employer automatically includes pay roll records, deductions and declares all social charges to URSSAF; this is the declaration form (volet social) which should be filled in and sent to the CESU centre. The same cheque book can be used for several employees. Further information is also found on the Service Public website.

The CESU préfinancé is used to pay an assistante maternelle outside of the home or someone looking after children in the home. It can also be used to pay crèches, garderies and intermediate associations that provide staff for services. CESU préfinancé cheque books are available from these organisations:

If an employer already has an URSSAF number no particular administrative procedures are required. An employer without and URSSAF number will automatically receive a form to fill in a few days after having obtained CESU préfinancé. This needs to be sent, with a Releve d'Identité Bancaire (RIB) to the Centre national du Chèque emploi service universel:

The declaration form (volet social)

The declaration form records:
  • The employee's name and address
  • The employee's details and social security number (or date and place of birth if they have no social security number initially)
  • Hours worked and period worked
  • Total net pay (made up of net hourly rate plus 10 percent provision for paid holidays)
  • Contributions:
    • Salaire réel: calculations for the employee contribution are based on the actual pay
    • Contributions and rebates can be calculated online. The service can also be recorded online for both employees and employers via the Chèque Emploi Service website.
The employer makes payment to the worker using the check (in the case of CESU bancaire) and sends the completed volet to URSSAF's CESU department using the pre-addressed envelope. CESU works out the contributions, sends the legally required pay slip to the employee and a bill with notification of the date of debit to the employer. Be aware that a work contract has to be established for anyone working over eight hours in a week. This contract cannot be ended by the employer without the standard notice period.

Advantages to the employer:

  • Operating within the system and as such are automatically fulfilling the legal obligations to pay social charges of an employee
  • Protected by insurance should the employee have an accident while at work
  • Benefit from a tax advantage (the record of payments must be attached to the annual tax return)
  • Employers benefit from a tax reduction
Certain employers are exempt from paying the contributions in full.

Advantages to the employee:

  • Receive the same social rights that apply to any employed person
  • Insured in the event an accident at work
  • Can prove social security contributions (which allows for supplementary pension and unemployment insurance)
  • Access to vocational training

Jobs included in the scheme:

  • All domestic work: cleaning, laundry and ironing
  • Odd jobs: repairs and maintenance work
  • Gardening and garden maintenance
  • Part-time property "house minding" (gardiennage)
  • Child minding and baby-sitting (only people over 16 years of age may baby-sit)
  • After-school and homework helper
  • Home-help companion, including dog walkers and beautician, for the elderly or infirm (this does not include nurse-aids or medical personnel)
  • Helpers in administration and Internet or computer work
  • Sign language interpreters, looking after animals and beauty treatments
  • Assistant maternelle (mother's helper), crèches, garderies, companies and associations that provide staff for domestic services. There are further benefits for child minding of a child that has already qualified for “guarded child” benefits
NOTE: The employer must provide the tools necessary to do the job. Some other jobs that happen partially off-site of the home are also accepted in the scheme. They include:

  • Preparation and delivery of food to be served at the home to the ill and elderly
  • Collection, cleaning and delivery of laundry
  • Assisting or transporting the ill or elderly when they leave the property (to visit the doctor or similar)

Jobs not included in the scheme:

  • Any building and renovations to a house (any work that must be insured).
Any person employed for these tasks must be declared to URSSAF in the usual way.

TESE (Titre Emploi Eervice Entreprise)

The TESE is a service specifically for businesses and is intended to simplify the social obligations related to employing staff. Employer registration requires a SIRET number. The TESE is available for businesses with fewer than nine employees to handle all their employees, regardless of type of contract. It is also available occasionally for business with more than nine employees, for an employee (on CDI or CDD) working less than 700 hours per year or 100 days (regardless of whether these days are consecutive or not).

How it works

The employer has the option of signing up online or by post.

As soon as the TESE receives the application, it sends a receipt, a user guide, the document "Identification du salarié", and the documents to send to the social organisations (such as URSSAF,assurance chômage, caisses de retraite complémentaire et supplémentaire, organisme de prévoyance and so on). The "Identification du salarié" document is a combined declaration of the employee and the employment contract, and is needed for each employee. It must be completed online or posted before employment begins. When the online form is used, the certificate can be printed directly, signed by employer and employee, and a copy given to both. The document for the social charges (le volet social) includes all elements required to calculate the contributions (salary, number of hours). The information can be left online or sent in to the national TESE centre. The TESE calculates the contributions to be made, sends the payslip and a simplified document to use the following month, along with monthly summary of the contributions made.

Further Information