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FRANCE: Ratification of the treaty between France and India on social security coverage occurred on March 22

The much-awaited ratification of the treaty between France and India on social security coverage occurred on March 22, 2011. This treaty is now in effect and will allow Indian assignees to avoid contributing to retirement funds under the French social security system while on secondment assignment in France. Such assignees will nevertheless be required to make contributions to French social security for health coverage.

What does the treaty change?

Ever since the globalization of the economy, India has progressively become the world's provider of highly technical services, primarily in the information technology (IT) area. One of the biggest difficulties experienced by Indian service providers when sending their Indian personnel to execute international service agreements has been the high cost of social security compliance in France. Because there was no bilateral treaty between France and India on social security matters, Indian service providers had to make all the French social security contributions, the biggest component of which is state health insurance.

During the negotiation of the bilateral treaty, Indian service providers had hoped that this treaty would allow them to keep the Indian assignees on the Indian regime, and escape the high cost of French social security contributions for health insurance, as is the case with assignees from many other countries with which France has a bilateral treaty.

Unfortunately this will not be the case here. The Indian service provider will have to subscribe to French state health insurance. It will, however, be able to maintain the Indian assignee on the Indian retirement plan and avoid French retirement contributions. The present state of social security regulations (after décret 2009-34 of January 9, 2009) would have allowed the Indian employer to opt out of the French basic retirement contributions anyway. This long awaited bilateral treaty does not appear to bring a significant change in the social security considerations of assignments of Indian personnel to France, except to enlarge the avoidance to include the complementary retirement (the AGIRC/ARRCO contributions).

Purpose of the treaty

The stated purpose of the treaty is to facilitate professional mobility between France and India, to improve the attractiveness of France for Indian investors, to respond to the demand of French companies doing business in India and of Indian companies doing business in France, by facilitating the movement of workers.

Secondment under this bilateral social security treaty would allow the maintenance of retirement regimes in home countries, and make temporary assignments abroad more attractive to French employees. Having said this, with retirement contributions being only a fraction of the social security contributions, the increase in the attractiveness for Indian and French investors and workers, which is the focus of an impact study discussed by the parliament, is all quite relative.

Beneficiaries of the treaty and risks covered

The scope of the treaty covers salaried and non-salaried workers, including civil servants. The treaty allows the maintenance of social security in the sending state only with respect to retirement benefits, invalidity, and survivor rights, for a maximum period of 5 years. On the other hand, it does not cover health issues, accidents at work, or work-related illness. For these risks, French employees seconded in India and Indian employees seconded in France will have to continue to be covered under the social security insurance of the country where work is performed. In other words Indian workers being seconded to France will be exempted from contributions to the retirement funds, but shall continue to be registered and make contributions to the relevant health insurance fund (URSSAF of Bas-Rhin).

Article 10 of the treaty nevertheless allows the signing States to agree to increase the scope of theexemptions.

Retroactive application of the treaty

The treaty does not provide for retroactive application for persons who had been already sent to one of the contracting states before the effective date of the treaty. They may, however, benefit under the terms of the treaty and be seconded from its effective date.

Liaison authority

The CLEISS (Centre de liaisons européennes et internationales de sécurité sociale) is the authority in France that will liaise with the social security authorities of India.

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