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Sickness Benefit for Business Owners in France

Tuesday 05 November 2013

Business owners in France have an entitlement to sickness benefit, but it is neither generous nor universal.

The quid pro quo of paying high social security contributions in France is that it gives access to the French social security system – pension entitlement, family benefits, death and invalidity benefit, sickness benefit and, of course, health cover.

For certain groups of workers some of these cash benefits are quite generous, notably unemployment benefits for those on a high salary, and pensions for those in the public sector.

However, in general the system is far less generous than many commentators would have you believe, not least in the level of sickness benefit (indemnités maladie) to which small business owners are entitled.

Most business owners in France are insured in the social security system through the RSI (Régime Social des Indépendants), a body created in 2006 from the merger of three social insurance funds covering different professional groups of business owners.

In order to have an entitlement to sickness benefit you need to have been RSI affiliated for a minimum of one year, and to up to date with your social security contributions – your cotisations.

As a general rule, cover is not available for the first seven days of your illness or accident, a waiting period (délai de carence) that reduces to three days in the event of hospitalisation.

Sickness benefit is payable for up to one year over a period of three years.

Where you suffer a major illness that qualifies as an Affection de Longue Durée (ALD), or you have received continuous health care preventing a return to work for at least six months, then the period of entitlement to sick benefit is extended to three years.

In all cases acceptance of your entitlement to sickness benefit will be subject to assessment of your application by the medical advisor to the RSI.

You need to act quickly, for in order to obtain the benefit you need to consult your doctor and submit an avis d’arrêt de travail to the RSI within two days of stopping work.

The amount of the sickness benefit payable is not a fixed sum, but 50% of your daily earnings (revenu journalier) over the past three years (or shorter period if you have not been in business for this long).

However, this entitlement is subject to minimum and maximum payments limits. The minimum amount payable is currently €20.29 per day, while the maximum payable is €50.73 per day.

All of the above rules apply to those whose business status is either artisan or commerçant, irrespective of tax status (so they apply equally to auto-entrepreneurs).

There are also separate arrangements for agricultural business owners, who this year have become eligible for sickness benefit.

In addition there are also separate rules for those who are in one of the professions libérales taxed under the system of bénéfices non commerciaux (BNC). For some professions libérales, there is no entitlement to sickness benefit as, for such persons, no social security sickness benefit contribution is payable.

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