Jump to content

'Black' working.

Chris Head

Recommended Posts

Would somebody mind explaining the realistic consequences of people carrying out extensive works on properties when they are registered for parks and gardens or something else for example.

What could happen to the people carrying out the work and the people paying the workers?

Just curious, I sort of know but not in detail:


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 50
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

The French government defines several types of illegal work http://www.travail-solidarite.gouv.fr/dossiers/travail/travail-illegal/travail-illegal-presentation

  • concealed (undeclared) work
  • hawking
  • illicit loan of workers
  • use of foreign workers who do not hold the necessary papers
  • illegal accumulation of jobs
  • fraud linked to replacement income (unemployment benefit or other)
The type most commonly referred to in the forum is work done without producing an invoice, which is seen as fraud.

[quote]Responsabilité des bénéficiaires du travail illégal

La loi permet aussi de mettre en cause, dans la plupart des cas, tous ceux (y compris les particuliers) qui ont bénéficié en toute connaissance de cause de la prestation

réalisée dans des conditions illégales.

Il s’agit bien entendu du bénéficiaire immédiat et direct de la prestation, c’est-à-dire du client qui a passé la commande, et appelé, selon les circonstances et les secteurs

professionnels, donneur d’ordre ou donneur d’ouvrage.

Mais, il peut s’agir également du bénéficiaire final de la prestation, ou de tout autre intermédiaire, même s’il n’a pas traité directement avec celui qui a réalisé le travail

dans des conditions illégales.

Ce mécanisme permet par exemple de rechercher la responsabilité du maître d’ouvrage pour une fraude réalisée par un sous-traitant avec lequel il n’a pas officiellement de relation commerciale.

Le particulier peut être impliqué dans une affaire de travail illégal essentiellement à deux titres :

- soit parce qu’il fait travailler comme employeur, pour son compte personnel, un salarié (femme de ménage, garde d’enfant, secrétaire, gardien, maçon) qu’il ne déclare pas et qui, de surcroît, peut être également un étranger démuni de titre de travail,

- soit parce qu’il recourt comme client aux services d’un travailleur indépendant ou d’une entreprise qui pratique le travail dissimulé.

Le premier cas correspond à une situation où le particulier peut être poursuivi pour du travail dissimulé et, éventuellement, pour emploi d’un étranger sans titre de travail.

Dans le second cas, le particulier, qui ne se comporte plus en employeur mais en client, commet le délit de recours à une personne qui effectue du travail dissimulé. Il est donc passible des sanctions qui répriment cette fraude. De même, sa responsabilité civile peut être engagée au titre de la solidarité financière s’il n’a pas formellement vérifié la situation administrative du professionnel qu’il fait travailler.

Pour éviter ces risques, il est donc vivement conseillé à tout particulier d’exiger un devis en bonne et due forme de la part du professionnel à qui il fait appel, surtout si le montant des travaux réalisés est égal ou supérieur à 3 000 €.[/quote]

The worker has no financial protection against accidents at work and no guarantee of payment. That's the first risk.

If found to be working illegally (receiving benefit or not having the necessary papers), a worker could loose his/her social security benefits (unemployment and child benefits)

As an individual, the employer found using illegal workers risks up to 3 years prison and a €45 000 fine, can have the tools of his trade confiscated, can be stopped from working with or associating with any other firm in the same trade, can have the judgement made public, can loose all sorts of civil rights and will not be able to tender for public work for 5 years.

A firm found using illegal workers can be fined up to €225 000 and other deterrents like being shut down for 5 years or permanently...

More details here: http://www.travail-solidarite.gouv.fr/
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Recent raids in construction and restauration threw up vast numbers of people being employed on the black. In such a highly and even over regulated society as France, the black is probably a necessary safety valve.  Certainly, up to recently, some workers had no choice but to work black hours if they were to give their families a decent standard of living. Now that overtime is no longer taxed, I know people who simply do that and have dropped the black altogether. And they tell me they are working every hour that they can and more. And loving it.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chris - you say that this person is actually registered but not for the building trade. So perhaps they are paying cotisations already through their legal business. And they could put the takings from the building work through the books of the legal business. But this would be a bit fraudulent? But better than nothing. We know one (english) person who was caught doing only building work unregistered, for 15 years! He has to pay back all the taxes, cotisations etc and has attended a course so that he is now legal. As far as I know his clients weren't checked up on.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It matters very much what he is registered as. 

Every time someone does work that he is not LEGALLY entitled to do, he is taking food from the mouths of people who have spent a considerable amount of time (and I am one of them) to make sure that they are qualified in accordance with the laws of France. 

You can't condone breaking the law just because you don't like it! There is no excuse for employing these people. To be quite frank with you, they and the people who actively condone them make me sick. Life is so bloody hard here that it just isn't fair that some people think this sort of behaviour is acceptable while the rest of us work so hard for very little financial reward. (And constantly lose out to illegal workers).

Also, if he is injured on your property you could very well find yourself facing a hefty bill from the hospital for his treatment, as he won't be covered while doing a trade he isn't registered to do.....never mind all the other financial implications of employing someone to do somehing you admit he isn't qualified to do!

For goodness sake grow up! You chose to live here, you aren't in Britain and it doesn't matter a whit what you think of the laws in France. Just because in Britain any Tom, Dick or Harry can set himself up in any trade he chooses without any formal qualifications, that has no bearing on what happens in France.

Angry of Mayenne,Aly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And how do we know the people mentioned above are not highly experienced tradesmen who cannot get the requisite certificatiuon in france because the laws here are so protectionist. This is supposed to be a Common Market for labour but France restricts trades and jobs for people with French qualifications only in many cases. Why are say German or British or POLISH diplomas not just as good?

It may suit those who have gone through the system to protect their rice bowls, t'was ever thus, but where the laws are too rigid and punitive then people will go round them and quite rightly in my view. And it has forced people to work on the black because they cannot earn enough to make a living. Don't blame people, blame a stupid system which needs reforming. French laws are 50 years out of date at least.

The gardener puts back a few tiles after a storm for an elderly pensioner crippled with arthritis so her roof doesnt leak. Cost next to nothing. Professionals want an arm and a leg perhaps and she has to wait two years. Get real.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The people referred to are not highly experienced tradesmen wooly nor qualified in any way to be carrying out the works, they've picked it up along the years. Laws are laws wooly, like them or not, I agree that breaking the law sometimes seems necessary, thats OK, getting caught isn't.

The gardener puts back a few tiles after a storm for an elderly pensioner  Thats totally out of context with what Aly is saying, no fonctionnaire is going to control the gardener helping out a pensioner in such a way....they are not without common sense, the ones I know would be up on the roof with the gardener!

I have a series of meetings starting this week with various fonctionnaires to 'discuss' exactly what you are alluding to wooly; although I am fortunate enough to have a great deal of flexibility within my registration, it's simply not enough so I intend to give the various controlling bodies alot of headaches over the coming months. Unfortunately there are a few folk around who would delight in seeing me fall (glass houses comes to mind) and I have no intention of living my life as if it were an escape and evasion excercise every day, so it's gloves off time with the state, and get all the cards out on the table, it should be a helluva scrap!Luckily I know a few of the more prominent beaurocrats reasonably well so thats a good start. It's sort of bizarre that a society puts so many barriers up to paying ones way but on the other hand very good that the consumer is protected as they are.

I'm not a lover of beaurocrats; but I can assure everybody that the ones here do appreciate honesty and persistency and once you get over a certain threshold they will do alot to find solutions where none would seem apparent initially:

A good discussion:



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I quite agree with what Aly is saying, as a registered artisan I not only have to be registered (for which I had to pay for) , I also have to pay my cotisations and have insurance to cover both third party liability and decennal should anything go wrong. Someone working on the black does not have to pay these or have insurance and should anything go wrong just walks away and says tough luck mate!!!

I have several times this year had to put right what "unqualified tradesmen" have done. One job was an electrical installation where on  numerous circuits different coloured wires had been joined together inside of gaines and had not even been taped and all nuteral wires had been put in using black cables. The clients have had to pay for a job twice but the first persons work had to be complety ripped out as there was a probable chance of either a fire or maybe even a death.  


Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote user="woolybanana"]

And how do we know the people mentioned above are not highly experienced tradesmen who cannot get the requisite certificatiuon in france because the laws here are so protectionist. This is supposed to be a Common Market for labour but France restricts trades and jobs for people with French qualifications only in many cases. Why are say German or British or POLISH diplomas not just as good?


Chris's comments noted, but this simply isn't true. I know no UK (for the sake of argument) Artisan (self included) with any French qualifications, yet we are all legal. We have relied on our experience of translated UK qualifications. I have never been asked for French quals.

And without experience or qualifications you can't reasonably expect to be able to do the job - perish the thought that France should end up like the UK, where any cowboy can call himself a builder.

Consider also the situation in the US & Canada, where registration is very difficult and every piece of work requires permission from the authorities - who would claim that the Americans are protectionist?

And there are plenty of handymen (most of them gardeners!) who can quite legitimately replace a few slipped tiles.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote user="woolybanana"]

And how do we know the people mentioned above are not highly experienced tradesmen who cannot get the requisite certificatiuon in france because the laws here are so protectionist. This is supposed to be a Common Market for labour but France restricts trades and jobs for people with French qualifications only in many cases. Why are say German or British or POLISH diplomas not just as good?


.They ARE as good...that's the point. If you have no qualifications you are not qualified, simple.

I had no provable qualifications due to our losing everything in a bomb explosion in N Ireland, and I had to re-qualify here in France. I managed it, so if there really are lots of Brits out there in a similar situation why don't they do the same? Exactly, it's a load of B......s!

I would be interested to know which "trades and jobs for people with French qualifications only"?

Yet again I would like to point out that Britain is out of step with the rest of Europe, not the other way round! So is Britain right and everyone else in Europe wrong?

Let everyone in France do what they feel like , you know, like in Britain, and we'll end up with the same social problems.....is that why you came to France? I don't think so.

Angry of Mayenne

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What moved the debate aside was this perhaps rather unnecessarily hysterical post so perhaps it is worth trying to find out why. I am sorry that a comparison had to be made with the UK as it is not particularly my country nor am I over familiar with the wrong end of the building trade there which worries Angry of Mayenne so much. Nor was it necessary to assume I employ these people as I don't.

Where we differ is that I do not care if the person is legally qualified to lay a brick, but whether s/he can do the job to the standard required, and for that I would do some checking. The bureaucratic load placed above this simple fact is frankly an embarrassment. That a person who is capable of putting on a roof is not allowed to do so because they are only allowed to do gardening work is not only pathetic but wasteful of human talent. Laws which produce this asinine nonsense should be changed or at least defied.

Being qualified and legal (French or otherwise) is not a guarantee of good work.

Which is what Chris is pleading for essentially, if I understand it right. To restore old buildings may not require a lot of high level skills but it requires a wide range and to have one trade for each as opposed to someone who can do all these things is crazy. That too is the result of a system that has got too far from the grass roots of reality. In other words, the whole specific trade registration thng is nonsense in certain contexts.

As to workering illegally, well, this is not as simple as it looks.

Firstly, where a man is not allowed to earn enough to keep his family properly and give them a decent standard of living, I would argue that he has an absolute right to duck and dive to earn more. State imposed poverty is not an option.

Secondly, where a worker has been discriminated against then s/he has the right also to earn as best s/he can. Thus, workers from the Eastern European states have not by and large been allowed to work in France but they have in Britain. Inevitably though they will gravitate to other countries, particularly Romanians whose second language is French, I believe. With luck they will be able to force open the door by presenting the State with a fait accompli. Those of North African descent who are not allowed to become qualified or work becasue of discrimination have an absolute right to do what the can as the State and society have made them outsiders.

Thirdly, as Nick admits by agreeing that a gardener can relay roof tiles, there are few real barriers that make sense. It is a question of degree. Thus, a legal gardener may quite competently relay complete roofs, put up gutters or do brickwork, but s/he would be very wise not to attempt, say, solar panels or perhaps central heating. The Canadian system may have a way forward for France. A certificate for each skill. But this is virtually impossible in France because the system is too petrified and too rigid and because it might break a few ricebowls. It is called demarcation. My fictitious gardener should be left to do what he is able to, not legally allowed to.

As to working without paying dues. This can never be totally eliminated. Indeed in some ways it may be healthy. What is sad and indicates a very sick society is that citizens, whether they have a vested interest or not, should spend their time spying on and reporting such people, if they are not directly affected or if there is not a public danger/nuisance. What happens on private land is largely none of their business for example ( excluding criminal matters too). However an efficient inspection service should control it loosely.

The insurance arguement is a red herring. Insurance is used as a tool of control in itself because it attempts to mirror the limitations of the State. It should be enlarged to take into account the needs of the trade as a whole.

That being said, caveat emptor.

(Nick it may be that the rules on recognising qualifications have changed, but it was the case a while ago I think that some foreign trades qualification were not recognised here)

Unfortunately Angry Aly who metamorphosed from Charlotte3, whatever rigid system you are in and are pleading for, I feel it is a thing of the past or will be very shortly. France has to change and fast if it is not going to atrophy even more. Rigidity is out, flexibility is in. There are no guaranteed rice bowls any more, but hard work will be its own reward. But then, I'm sure you have a full order book as do most of the people round here as far as I can see. So perhaps you might live and let live.






Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wooly, would you be so happy to use a gardener to replace roof tiles only to find that after he had finished and it rained, that there was more damage to your roof than he actually put right? Or indeed that you used him as an electrician and his bad work caused a fire and burnt you house down.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was careful to qualify certain things with caveat emptor. And to state earlier that I would always check up on someone's work and reputation first.

Remember the days years ago(?) in England when gangs of people used to try and sell tarmac drives. Well, it is the same. If they are good and can be proven to be so, then ok, but if they have not done a job properly then no go.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't want to join in the squabble but assuming you're allowed to put a new roof on your own house (which if it is old was in all probability put up by a load of "unskilled" people anyway), then it's a bit bonkers to prevent somebody who knows a bit more than you from helping/doing it for you anyway - certificate or not. 

But in an increasingly litigation-based society, these "safeguards" are increasingly likely to remain anyway, as insurance - red herring or not - will so often govern the choice of somebody who isn't in a position to judge the skill or otherwise of the artisans he employs.  If they have proper insurance and you have some protection against shoddy workmanship you will inevitably - whether this is ultimately a good or a bad thing for the building industry as a whole - feel more comfortable employing them. If you know what you're looking at - fine - but most of us don't and for us recommendations from others, and the backing of proper insurance, is the best we can do to safeguard our investment.

For myself, I've had odd jobs done by "mates" both here and in the UK.  I paid them a little less, and consequently had to put up with it if the work wasn't perfect.  I wouln't have major works done in this way - least of all electrics which are downright dangerous if done wrongly - but for odd jobs, I've never seen a problem. For the most part it's one's only choice as so-called qualified people always seem to think the bits and pieces jobs are too small, and won't earn them enough, to interest them anyway.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think some of you are sadly out of date regarding current practices in the UK. Woe betide you if you do not use qualified electricians or Corgi registered  gas installers. Even Double Glazing companies have an association offering guarantees these days.

Yes, we use an odd job man - for odd jobs.

The UK is coming into line with Europe

and for us recommendations from others, and the backing of proper insurance, is the best we can do to safeguard our investment.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am finding the system that allows you to work is quite difficult to negotiate. I am going to register in 2008 at The Chambre de Commerce for a range of activities including handyman, parcs et jardins, gardienage etc. The people at the CC don't like this and even more don't like me to mention any activity that is under the Chambre de Metiers (e.g entretien de piscines).

I had hoped to register in painting and decorating. I did the stage de gestion but as my 'provable experience' was as a self employed painter I could not register.

Thus I will do some painting as a handyman ( which I understand is allowed but god knows where the line is drawn?) and other activities as the work develops.

What I have found is that there are barriers to working that frequently make little sense and as such only serve to encourage working au noir. I live here, pay taxes here, so I am quite entitled to comment, criticise or complain about the rules and regulations that govern my life in France. I firmly believe that things need to change in this area to make it easier for people to work legally.

EDIT after seeing Russet House post.

Do you only use qualified painters (assuming you have used them!) as I dont think this is a regulated activity in the UK.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course you don't want to join the squabble do you Coops[:P]

To the issue. Unfortunately qualifications are not a guarantee of good work and insurance, however desirable, rarely covers real losses the real damage, IMH(not humble)O. Personally I try to go by reputation and recommendation rather than anything else. And seldom take a price that is significantly cheaper than others unless there is a really good explanation.

As to major works, my experience is the same as yours: small guys seldom try for big jobs and vice versa.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Roll on the day when the regulation in the painting and decorating field is properly enforced I say.[:D]

The sale of paints, varnishes and wallpapers etc will be banned in all outlets except fournisseurs selling only to Siret registered artisans.

Only the above registered and insured artisans will be allowed to carry out painting and decorating, citizens will be encouraged to shop those using black labour or heaven forbid redecorating their own houses[:)]

A new insurance backed decorating survey will be required when selling a house to ensure that all redecoration has been done by registered artisans backed by a 10 year guarantee.

As an aside my late grandfather who was a skilled carpenter hated his brother in law who was a "painter/decorator" my grandfather had to work as an indentured apprentice for many years and his father had to pay the artisan who taught him, whereas according to him his brother in law started a new job one morning and came home at night qualified[:)]

Not much had changed when I did my apprenticeship except my father did not have to pay my employer who in turn only got cheap, not free labour.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

{template="widgetContainer" group="global" app="core" params="'footer', 'horizontal'"https://www.frenchentree.com/}

  • Create New...