The personal arduousness prevention account

Newsletter - December 2014

Several decrees passed on 9 October 2014 have provided more detail on the application of the law of 20 January 2014, which aims to ensure the future and the fairness of the pension system by setting up a personal account for preventing arduous work, applicable as of 1 January 2015.

The context

Although there is already a range of measures that enable some employees to take early retirement (handicap, disability, workers who were exposed to asbestos, etc.), the striking differences in life expectancy between socioeconomic categories have led parliament to adopt the laws of 9 November 2010 and 24 January 2014 so as to take account of the arduous nature of work. The personal arduousness prevention account will enable the employee to obtain points according to how harsh his working conditions are, points which may be used for training, a transition to part-time work or early retirement (within the limit of 10 quarters). According to published studies, between 20% and 40% of employees in the private sector are likely exposed to the arduous work factors pinpointed by these decrees.

The ten arduous work factors

• Four factors will apply in 2015:

– night work: at least one hour of work between midnight and 5 a.m., over at least 120 nights per year,
– work performed under hyperbaric conditions: at least 60 work assignments in an environment in excess of 1,200 hectopascals,
– work in successive rolling teams: at least one hour of work between midnight and 5 a.m., over at least 50 nights per year,
– repetitive work characterised by the repetition of the same motion, at a constrained pace, with a cycle time less than one minute over more than 900 hours per year or of more than one minute but including at least 30 technical actions per minute.

• Six additional factors apply in 2016:

– manual handling of heavy loads: lifting or carrying 15 kg, pushing or dragging a load of 250 kg, moving with a load of at least 10 kg or raising it off the ground or to a height located above the shoulders, all over at least 600 hours per year,
– work at extreme temperatures: temperature ≤ 5 °C or ≥ 30 °C for at least 900 hours per year,
– work in noise: at least 80 decibels over a period of eight hours, at least 600 hours per year or exposure to a peak acoustic pressure level at least equal to 135 decibels at least 120 times per year,
– work in arduous postures: keeping ones arms in the air, crouched positions, torso bent at 45 degrees … for at least 900 hours per year,
– work subject to mechanical vibrations: sent to the hands and arms or to the body, over a reference period of eight hours, and of 2.5 m/S2 or of 0.5 m/S2, for at least 450 hours per year,
– work in contact with dangerous chemical agents: themselves defined by decree according to the type of penetration, emission class, usage process, etc.

Acquisition of points

One calendar year of exposure to the above-cited risks leads to the acquisition of four (4) points (eight (8) points if more than one risk accumulate). The personal account will be capped at 100 points. Ten points, for example, could serve to generate additional payment to compensate over three months a 50% reduction in working hours or could provide entitlement to one quarter increase in the term of old age insurance, or again finance training actions so that the candidate can gain a job that is less exposed to arduousness.

The employer’s obligations

The employer must (a) identify the employees affected and (b) contribute to the financing and management of the arduousness account.

It is up to the employer to declare to the CNAVTS – the national employed workers old age insurance fund – and the network of regional organisations (CARSAT, MSA, CNAV) the risks to which the employees are exposed via the DADS – annual declaration of workforce data – by 31 January of each year, at the latest.

The financing will be done via subscription by the company, due starting in 2017 by all employers and which will represent 0.01% of payroll.

A special company subscription will be payable for employees exposed to arduousness: it will be 0.1% in 2015 and 2016, and 0.2% starting in 2017. It will be doubled in the case of multiple exposure.

Monitoring by government and the applicable penalties

The funds (CNAVTS, CARSAT, MAS, CNAV) may undertake checks to ensure that the arduousness factors existence and that their scope is being properly reported. The check could apply to the five previous calendar years.

In the event of a revised assessment, the fund will adjust the number of points not allocated and a financial penalty of up to 50% of the monthly social security cap may be applied per employee; in 2015, that comes to € 1,585.

The employee will be entitled to challenge the employer’s declarations for the previous three calendar years. In the event that the employer should refuse, the employee shall then be entitled to refer the matter to the fund with jurisdiction. Additionally, the employee will also be entitled to plan to bring a civil liability law suit to obtain legal damages.

The associated obligations

Employers are required to fill out an individual monitoring sheet for each employee exposed to an arduousness factor since 1 January 2012. Starting in 2015, the employer will be required to send this sheet to the employee on 31 January of the year following the exposure to the above-cited risks.

The single document assessing occupational risks currently mandatory in all companies must provide in an appendix, starting in 2015, the collective data that are useful for assessing the individual exposure to risk factors, as well as the proportion of employees exposed to the risk factors.

We are entirely available if you have any further queries about the issues discussed in this newsletter or about any other accounting, tax, social security or law related topic.