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Important information and update on changes to French social security obligations

We write to update you on the Decree of 9 March 2017 providing for the mandatory affiliation of French resident seafarers working on board vessels which fly the flag of a non-EU State which has not entered into a bilateral social security treaty with France.

Following a meeting with the French Prime Minister’s advisors, representatives of the yachting industry have announced that Article 31 of the Social Security Finance law of 2016, the legal basis for the Decree, would be modified to provide a choice for affected seafarers between affiliation with ENIM or affiliation with another social security regime (which social security regime that would be is still to be determined). Possible options for the alternative social security regime, are private schemes (a possibility under the MLC 2006), or with the French social security regime applicable to foreigners.

This is a major step towards limiting the impact of the Decree on the yachting industry, and is due in no small part to the lobbying efforts and the legal action against the Decree led by industry actors, with which Ince & Co have been closely involved.

An official confirmation from the French Government is expected in the coming days or weeks and the modifications described above should be made as part of the Social Security Finance Law of 2017, to be in force by early 2018. Our firm is continuing to be involved in the discussions with the French administration to implement alternatives to the mandatory affiliation of seafarers with the French social security regime.

Until this modification is effective or the French Government announces otherwise, the Decree remains in force and is not suspended. Furthermore, we had been cautious regarding the interpretation of the Decree given by ENIM last 30 June, where it indicated that only commercial vessels were concerned. This caution was warranted as ENIM have now amended their interpretation and now include private yachts, including yachts under temporary admission, as well as commercial yachts within the scope of the Decree.

Ince & Co is at your disposal to advise and assist you, where required, on the consequences of the above for your professional activities.