Kind reminder: perks are not allowed and are illegal! Do not claim back your personal public transports tickets or ask for an additional allowance for the canteen for example. The reason is simple: you are not an employee, so you don’t have the same rights, the same benefits, and your allowance is under French tax regulations! If the company offers you benefits, they will depend on the local tax, so this is not compatible (I won’t go into details on finance and tax rules).
So to make your life easier, let me give you a short list of advantages and legal benefits for this contract. I will give some details on the main ones just after:
- The intermediary and expertise of Business France for all administrative procedures
- No need to be in the country to find your local job!
- Accommodation (under certain conditions)
- Plane tickets (or train) at the start and the end of your mission
- 30 days off
- 150 kgs of luggage supported by Business France
- No income tax!
- Free international medical insurance (with paid options)
- Developing your linguistic skills
- Learning a new culture and taking part of it
- And others depending on your company
The only allowed benefit is the accommodation. It is mandatory for certain countries (especially countries with risks), but could be allowed in any country. The only counterpart is a 20% cut off on the allowance. Which is, in general, less expensive than the rent!
This could be very attractive, however be careful! Fewer and fewer companies are offering (are keen to open the negotiation) the accommodation in the countries where it’s not mandatory. Because this is highly expensive for the company. Another fact to keep in mind, if the company supports your accommodation, you must stay there and can’t leave without the company agreement!
Thereby, you can be in a penthouse flat in Manhattan (wake up! Stop dreaming…) or in a single bedroom, and sometimes, this room could be shared with other people, with one bathroom for 5-6 bedrooms and 10 different housemates… And your room could be quite old as well. In this situation, quite extreme I know, but it can happen really, this cut off could be incredibly painful. Regarding local tax and bills, the company can, or not, pay them as well.
It will depend on your way of life, and the risk you can take, and how much flexible you are.
If it’s your 1st expat, and you are not 100% confident, I strongly advise you to choose your own accommodation if you can. You will have higher expenses but, at least, you will be able to choose your place, the one you can settle all your stuff, you can call “home”. Even if it’s temporary. And this accommodation will answer to your needs! (single or double bedroom, desk, ensuite, close to the city centre or the office, etc.).
I put a little pic at the beginning of this article so I show you 2 types of accommodation where I lived and they were sooooooooooo different… 😉
Regarding another benefit regularly asked by applicants and volunteers, is the car. And you shouldn’t mix the 2 different types of company cars.
The 1st one is assigned to someone in particular and this person keeps the car the time of the contract, and can use it to a personal purpose (weekend for example), but the cost linked to this personal use will be the employee responsibility. This car will be considered as a perk… So illegal for a VIE.
The other type of company car is owned by the company, parked onsite and available for all employees, not assigned to someone. The employee can use it to a professional purpose only. The employee can’t bring it back home, the car must be parked into the company’s enclosure.
In this situation, the VIE can use it (by checking the driving license is valid and usable in the country. It might be necessary to obtain a local license).
The Plane Ticket
Finally, plane ticket to go back to your home country. If you’re close to your family, you will need/desire to come back home several times a year. But if your country of assignment is a little bit far, you might hesitate a long time before taking your ticket, even to renounce for financial reasons.
So you can have the desire to negotiate a plane ticket paid by your company. Once again, it is a perk and it can be easily discovered as your name must be on the booking and the ticket (this is an international law), and you depends on French tax, and your company will pay the ticket whose the expense will depend on local tax. So all of this is illegal.
However, what you can negotiate, if your mission allows you to, it’s to organise a visit to the HQ, or the entity, to your home country, or a meeting, training, etc. The company will have to reimburse your trip expenses because there is a professional purpose. Up to you to take days of holidays and buy train/plane tickets to go home (if the office is not located in your home city).
Small clarification that deserves its own paragraph: business trips. Some companies can plan trips, part of your mission, and try not to reimburse you the expenses because, after, all “you are not an employee”… This is also illegal! Even if you’re not an employee, a company must reimburse all professional expenses because your contract is covered by the French labour law.
Now, the long-term benefits!
Forget about it! Under your VIE contract, you don’t have to pay this tax. A nice saving !
I only talk about the income tax. Council/State/Accommodation tax (whatever it’s called), for example, has to be paid. Try to find information on all local tax.
The most important and valuable benefit of this contract: the professional success! It will depend on your VIE of course. On the company. On your missions. On your adaptability in your local country and its culture. On your motivation.
Yes, I know, there are as many positive as negative opinions about VIE online. What to think about it?
Each experience is unique! Even if a VIE says that his/her mission was a failure, the company wasn’t attractive, the manager was horrible… It doesn’t mean it will happen again with you if you replace him/her! Success depends on so many criteria. It’s possible you don’t like your local country (despite your research work you’ve done before). Or the mission doesn’t answer your expectations, or the employer changes your missions during the VIE, etc.
Or it’s possible your mission will nicely surprise you and be a real “launching pad” for your career! And for your private life as well.
This contract aims to offer you the opportunity to practice your job in a very different environment, different culture, nay a different language. To obtain a professional experience abroad is a big advantage as it is not easy to be hired abroad (visa, local law protecting local applications, language, qualifications, etc.).
And, globally, responsibilities entrusted are more important than the ones a contract in your home country can give you, equivalent diploma and experience.
I will end this benefits part by the comment done by all candidates and volunteers who are not satisfied with the answer on their benefits and the negotiation…: “well if you don’t say to anyone, Business France won’t know anything, so we’re good, right? It’s the company responsibility anyway.”
It’s not that easy of course. I remind that a company can recruit VIEs if it has headquarters in France or a legal entity in France. So the company has to comply with audits and finance controls in France, and also by the local government in your country of assignment. If an anomaly is detected, the company will have to pay a fine and Business France will be contacted.
Business France also can discover the fraud by other methods. Anyway, you will also be responsible because you signed the contract and approved Business France’s rules. The simple consequence will be a fine to the company and the end of contract for you. Immediately.
And Business France won’t give you any certificate of employment. If a future employer asks you for a work reference, proof of contract, etc., Business France will just not provide it to you, or will tell your future company about the termination of employment contract for serious misconduct.