With effect from 1 January 2015, new provisions are in force in France, entitling employees to accumulate, during their careers, an entitlement to training hours which can transfer with them when they change jobs or during periods of unemployment[1].

Previous system – DIF – droit individual à la formation

Previously employees had an entitlement to accrue 20 hours of training per annum up to a maximum of 120 hours, to be used during their employment. When their employment terminated, they were entitled to request to use the accrued training hours up to the limit of the sum accrued, provided such request was made no later than the end of the notice period. Otherwise there was no right to transfer the accrued entitlement to another employment.

The new regime – CPF[2]compte personnel de formation

With effect from 1 January 2015, each individual will now have a “personal training account” held independently of their employment. This account is open throughout their lifetime and employees accrue credits of training hours per annum (up to 150 in total over 9 years). These hours can be used to take qualifying training courses at any time during the employee’s career and the accrued unused hours can be retained by the employee if they change jobs or are unemployed for certain periods (without any conditions).

The DIF hours previously accrued and outstanding are transferred into this account and may be used up to 1 January 2021.

From 1 January 2015, the employee accrues 24 hours per annum[3] up to a credit of 120 hours and thereafter 12 hours per annum up to a maximum of 150 hours (i.e. after 7.5 years full-time work). Part-time employees accrue the rights on a pro-rata basis. Employees on maternity leave or sick leave continue to accrue the CPF entitlement.

An employee may request an additional 100 hours if the employer is in breach of its obligations to hold career development meetings and has not provided at least 2 out of the 3 required measures for the evolution of careers

If the employee wishes to use any training hours during working time, he or she must make a request (on notice) to the employer, who has 30 days to reply (silence is deemed acceptance).

During the training, the employee’s remuneration may be paid if:

  • the Board of the State training organisation (Opca) expressly agrees to pay such sum; or
  • a collective agreement in place within the employing company provides for this, if the CPF funds are managed by the employer.

In either case, the remuneration paid to the employee during the training period is capped at 50% of the total cost of the training – e.g. for a training cost of €4,000, the employee would receive a maximum remuneration during the training of €2,000.

The CPF training hours are financed in the same way as the previous DIF regime – i.e. by the employer, which must pay a sum equivalent to a maximum of between 0.55%-1% of the total gross payroll costs each year (exact sum depending on the size of the employer).

The training hours can also be used by the employee outside of working hours, which will not require the authorisation of the employer (but no remuneration is payable by the employer to the employee in such case).

The employee will be able to access the record of their training hours on a Government website.

Immediate steps for employers

As the DIF system will cease on 31 December 2014, employers must, before 31 January 2015, send a simple letter to their employees informing them of their accrued DIF entitlements[4].

The employees then register their accrued DIF training entitlement on the Government website: moncompteformation.gouv.fr.

With effect from 1 January 2015, there will no longer be a requirement to refer to the employee’s DIF entitlement in the dismissal letter.