Friday, April 13, 2007

The French May Have a Word For It...

But, the thing itself is in danger:

The headaches of running a small business in France are legion.

To a slow-moving bureaucracy can be added the oppressive weight of social security charges, a labour code as thick as the bible, and a climate of opinion that too often equates the word "patron," the French for boss, with an evil oppressor.

A typical French pay-slip for example contains between 30 and 40 deductions, for a bewildering array of social insurance charges accumulated over the years. For every 100 euros paid in salary, a business pays an extra 45 to the state while the employee surrenders 20.

For many entrepreneurs, taking on new staff is prohibitively risky not just because of the cost but also because of the difficulty of shedding workers when times go bad. A mistake in the complex dismissal procedure can lead to an employment tribunal and a heavy fine.

Above all there is the constant feeling that the system works against them.

"When a young person starts a business, within days he gets letters from the pensions and social insurance people. He is filling out forms and paying money even before he's started his activity.
It is a total disincentive," says Jean-Eudes du Mesnil, secretary-general of the Confederation of Small and Medium Businesses (CGPME).

"The biggest problem is culture. Here in France people aren't taught about how business works. In schools the subject isn't mentioned till the last year, and in teacher-training colleges there is no obligation to learn about the real economy," he says.

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