Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Salary increment : How about a week of baguette?

Manager : I would like to tell you that we are very satisfied with your performance. I believe you have been informed of your salary increment.
Friend : Yes.
A blank in the conversation. Apparently the manager was waiting for some form of appreciation.
Manager : Well, it seems that you are not happy about it.
Friend : Well, the increment is equivalent to my one week consumption of baguette, would you be happy if it were you?
Manager : ...(speechless).

As I have mentioned earlier, salary increment is very slow in my industry. Some people don't get any this year, except those who are doing an outstanding job. One year I got a merely 200€ (before tax) annual increment, which could buy me maybe an extra lunch per month? The manager who announced it to me was quite embarrassed to even spell out the amount. So nowadays when I receive a call from HR to inform me this kind of news, I politely say thank you and get on to my life. I don't feel anything for it anymore.

The true is, France has taught me to appreciate other aspects in my life than money. I'm staying because of all the reasons mentioned in the other post that are more important at this stage of my life.

Anyway, I kind of feel sad when this friend told me about the conversation above, as it really happened to him/her.


  1. Anonymous3:25 AM

    I hear you, wages are pretty low in France, especially when you take into account the cost of living. I made minimum wage when I first came to Canada and still felt richer than when I was living in France as a student making minimum wage!

  2. The time is tough. A meagre increment would be better than none, although with the increasing tax imposed, not even sure the final take home pay is better off than previously.

  3. Hi Zhu,

    When I first came to France I noticed a huge salary difference between France and USA. But a lot of people here told me that in USA one has to pay for medical bill, and not much social helps for unemployment or retirement pension is very low.

    Since you are living in Canada and you said that medical care is state funded as well, why do you think that salary is generally lower in France compare to Canada? Do you have a lot of benefits in Canada : unemployment, childcare, free University...

    Just curious.


    They said it is tough time all the times. Seriously, we were given 50€ as bonus (company said it is from the profit sharing program). I felt like being insulted, it is better they don't give any sometimes.

  4. Hi Bee,
    To answer your questions on the Canadian system, medical care is free and it is funded by provinces We don't get reimbursed for medications. Unless we have an insurance. Eye doctor charge 60$ for the visit. Dentist consultations are not free either. Usually, employers give medical insurance for their employees.

    In Canada, people are encouraged to find a job quickly, the period of unemployment is less than a year, but I'm not sure. But it is shorther than in France.

    Canada has a policy of immigration, they are the ones who are paying for the retirement pensions. They don't really encourage birth, but for instance Québec has funded daycare so that parents could work instead of being at home and be on welfare. An immigrant can come and work quickly as compare to a child that the government has to pay for school.

    Universities are expensive, but a lot less than in the U.S. I used to pay 5000$ per year. But then again, it was almost 10 years ago.

    Salaries in Canada are a lot higher than in France. We do pay for "charges sociales" and income taxes.

  5. I can't believe some of the job offers I see for my profession. Often the salary offered is little more than minimum wage for a job requiring Bac +4/5 and a few years experience.

    And don't get me started on the discrimination between men and women in the French workforce. I had a (French) friend go for interview once and the interviewer told her that the company agreed to interview her because she had 2 children (so in their minds little risk for another baby). And the interviewer was a woman!

  6. I have a friend who was going to turn from an intern to permanent employee. As soon as her boss learnt that she was pregnant, he stopped all the discussion about turning permanent. She was so disappointed.