Jump to content

"on the black"


Patf
 Share

Recommended Posts

We're really struggling with this atm, mainly because of the remedial work that we need after April's flooding.

We've had some electrical work done by the adjuant of the next commune who is a registered electrician/artisan.  He came round, gave us a devis, we agreed a price and then he did the work.  We paid him in cash and totally unbidden, he gave us 'change'.  When I pointed out to him that we had paid the price he asked, he said as it was cash it was 'hors tax' and he repaid us the TVA.

My problem is that I really didn't come here to find ways of avoiding paying tax.  Since we arrived we've spent a small fortune on getting business advice (using background material from here) to make sure that we don't shoot ourselves in the foot about our research business, to pay tax as we should and the like.

We have a friend who helps with the work I'm doing on the house and I pay him for his time - I can't do heavy lifting and the like - and he tells me that he's putting the money I pay him though his company and on his tax return but of course I can't check on that or prove it, nor can I check that the guy who he brings in to drive the mini-pel pays his tax either.

Very confusing here, I'm thinking that it is the overall system that needs overhaul to make it all less confusing for us all, incluuding the French.   

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 62
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I really cant be bothered with what other people are doing and to be honest Ithink good on those who do  a bit on the side to make more money.  What annoys me is those that do not work, do not want to work and think it is their god given right to live off the dole (sp).  When those registered are trying to make a living basically by paying for those who choose not to work, or have many kids that basically the goverment (ie us) support them.

There was a program on tv the other night saying how in normandy there are more business opening daily, however due to the  high charges there is still extremely high unemployment because no one is taking on employees.  Maybe when Mr Chirac finally leaves and hands over to someone with more of a business mind and not such a socialist one, then we can stop having these discussions.

 

I have had 2 french workers in and both times they wanted to work hors TVA and I requested otherwise so I could ofset if against my business but I do not mind that they asked me.  They are jsut hard workers trying to live.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Firstly teacher bashing - Not true but just used as one of many examples. However, to say that no teacher ever works on the black is a bit nieve.

The issue of waiting for tradesmen is a good one and probably why there is such a large 'black' workforce. In England we have a consumer driven culture, we want it and we want it now, we have lost the concept of having to wait. France has no such sort of culture. In fact from an early age (i'm thinking school here) in life a French person is told it's this, it's that and thats how it is. So when they are told to wait 6 months they just accept it. It's a bit like customer satisfaction and customer care, other concepts that the French don't understand.

This can then be added to the French attitude towards money and material objects which is different to us highly materialistic English. The French are driven by the three basic needs in life, roof, food and health. They don't make money to become millionairs they make money to live. Also the French are not stupid, they know that the ability to take your money elswhere is somewhat limited, until the English turned up of course.

I always go to a artisan first, if I have to wait a long time and the job is 'low risk' in terms of things going wrong I will then pay for somebody to do it on the black. I won't get a man to paint my stair well on the black as there could be a fatal accident (falling off ladder etc) but I would to paint a room, there is less chance of an accident.

Am I paying for people to drive big BMW's, I don't think so. The only person round here who drives a big flash car is the local notair and I don't think he works on the black. With unemployment in excess of 18% people just want to exist round here.

Why do we think there are more Brits working on the black, well we will always look for our own people if our French is not that good, thats a fact. Oh yes sure we will say, as I often do, I will only employ French artisans but when you can't wait 6 months for a new front door to be fitted and you don't know the French for a multi lever lock but there is an Englisg guy down the road who works on the black and can do it tomorrow I know which one I would go for.

Having said that my experience is that many English who work on the black would love to become legitimate but find it very difficult just to complete the course, go to the right chamber of whatever mainly because of their lack of written and spoken French. I know of a plumber who has studied for 2 years and has now become ligit but during that time he still had to pay his bills and put food on the table so he worked on the black. He actually wanted to be ligit because he knew that at some time or another he would be found out.

Well working on the black is part of French life and it will never go away. I think some people who have posted are hypocritical in what they say but then I think well it's there view and I guess they are entitled. I will leave you with this, it's NOT our job to come here and pass comments on what the French do or don't do or how they do it. If we don't like it then we can go somewhere else. It's not our job to change the basics of the French way of life although at times I believe there are a few members of this forum (does not mean they have posted here by the way) who believe it's their god given right to 'educate' the French, make them civilised and drag them in to the 21st century.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, nothing to do with travail au noir but to do with what Albi said about teachers which arouse my curiosity.

Albi, you're inferring that teachers in the UK (most teachers, I'd presume you mean) have a cushy job. I would be very interested to know what makes you say that, details and examples more than welcome. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Albi, you obviously have never taught in a 'comp' (which is where most teachers work), otherwise you would not speak like that ! It can be a marvellous job, if you're 'lucky' enough to work in a well-run, good school with strong support and senior staff. Unfortunately, they are not the majority, far from it. Instead it is very often an extremely stressful job that really tests your limits (patience, nerves, diplomatic, psychological, physical at times, etc.) on a daily basis, where extreme frustation, humiliation, despair, battling agst the odds, etc. are becoming more and more part and parcel of the job. As for the hols, of course, they are a great benefit, that is obviously partly why many teachers chose that profession. But, believe me, the other 42 working weeks are very 'hectic' to sometimes the point of exhaustion, especially if you happen to teach 400 + kids, as I used to (I have considerably downsized my teaching activity), a lot of them with poor English skills, no motivation, no supportive background, behaviour disorders and the likes, and the list goes on and on. I worked in 6 comps in my career, all very different in their catchment areas but all very hard work in their own right, yes some were easier than others but it was always hard work. If you had encountered the sometimes incredible levels of indiscipline day in, day out, that most ordinary comps have to face, and accept w/o having any effective way to counter, the destructive and continuous and infectious levels of disruption caused by many out-of-control, untouchable 12 to 16 yr-olds, you would not consider teaching as a cushy job, that's for sure ! It tests the toughest, the most resolute of human being, many kids these days are a challenge to anybody, school heads very often wash their hands off the matter of discipline in schools, these days it is beneath them. In modern teaching, you've got your hands tied (discipline procedures and policies are often a joke in many schools, totally inadequate), you can't get rid of your 'customers' (unlike in other professions who deal with unruly individuals), you can't hide, you are the front line. Staff turnovers are very high, you're talking of 40% of newly-qualified teachers resigning at some point before their 3rd year despite vastly improved salary scales starting now at £20K/yr, which for many 23 yr-olds is a lot. That should tell you something. You can despise teachers for whatever reasons, that is absolutely your prerogative, and I would not question that. To say they have a cushy job is a very disingenuous and ignorant way to get at them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]Albi, you obviously have never taught in a 'comp' (which is where most teachers work), otherwise you would not speak like that ! It can be a marvellous job, if you're 'lucky' enough to work in a well-...[/quote]

Moderators Hat On.

Hang on! Who bought English teachers in to this? We are talking about France and working on the black. Theres nothing in this thread about UK teachers.

I don't want this thread highjacked with the subject of school teachers, UK or French, they were only used as one example out of many and in the most general and loosest of terms. So lets keep to working on the black and the consiquences of employing those that do work on the black.

Moderators Hat Off.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Albi thought it necessary to have a quite gratuitous dig at UK teachers in the middle of a discussion on the black economy. Quillan, before filling him in with some facts he probably was not aware of, I did apologise for this aside.

On the subject of govvy jobs, you will be aware I take it that every French person probably has employed someone au noir, and that, in proportion, very few travailleurs au noir are caught. It is, of course, most prevalent in the south-east where there must not be many houses built w/o the help of travailleurs au noir.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"I always go to a artisan first, if I have to wait a long time and the job is 'low risk' in terms of things going wrong I will then pay for somebody to do it on the black. I won't get a man to paint my stair well on the black as there could be a fatal accident (falling off ladder etc) but I would to paint a room, there is less chance of an accident.

Am I paying for people to drive big BMW's, I don't think so. The only person round here who drives a big flash car is the local notair and I don't think he works on the black. With unemployment in excess of 18% people just want to exist round here.

Why do we think there are more Brits working on the black, well we will always look for our own people if our French is not that good, thats a fact. Oh yes sure we will say, as I often do, I will only employ French artisans but when you can't wait 6 months for a new front door to be fitted and you don't know the French for a multi lever lock but there is an Englisg guy down the road who works on the black and can do it tomorrow I know which one I would go for.

Having said that my experience is that many English who work on the black would love to become legitimate but find it very difficult just to complete the course, go to the right chamber of whatever mainly because of their lack of written and spoken French. I know of a plumber who has studied for 2 years and has now become ligit but during that time he still had to pay his bills and put food on the table so he worked on the black. He actually wanted to be ligit because he knew that at some time or another he would be found out."

I think you have become a little confused over this thread.

Not sure where BMW's came into it - I mentioned an Audi TT.

Assuming that you are registered and pay tax in France then you are funding all of those who are are 'working on the black'.

To clarify my original postings - I would accept that many French registered artisans carry out some work for cash without devis and invoices.

At the other end of the scale we have English people living in France who are completely abusing the system - they have no desire to register and are only interested in working the system - to this end they want all the benefits of healthcare, schooling, etc without contributing anything.

Re your comments regarding the difficulty of becoming registered - this may be different in your area, but in 47 the Chambre de Metiers go out of their way to help artisans to get set up.

It is a bit worrying that we have a moderator on the Forum who is advocating the use of English people working on the black.

Regards,

Bob Clarke
http://perso.wanadoo.fr/grindoux

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On my Rural England street (25 houses or so), just about everybody has used somebody on the black in the last 5 yrs or so, be it a gardener (to do patio, etc.), or a bloke to help with the exterior painting, a maid, a turf bloke, tree surgeon, etc. Same for the whole village, in fact, most people here pass those names to each other and very nice and efficient these travailleurs au noir are too ! Same when I lived in Bristol, Leeds, London, etc. Reality is, you asked for quotes and (if they ever arrive in the post) invariably it's always at least 3 times the price our travailleurs au noir accept. Have never heard anybody in the UK take the high moral ground to complain about the injustice of it all ! So why do some of you seem to be so indignant about it all ? Did you not do it in the UK ? Yes, it is massive in France as you are finding out, also massive here in the UK (maybe less so in the UK, although I know peole who are having whole blocks of flats done up on the black by Poles !), so what is your point exactly (those who oppose it) ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The UK v French situation.

Isn't the real problem that in the UK if I employ someone on the black then it is the workers  problem if they don't pay tax, VAT, social security contribution. I have no need to enquire into their business practices. In addition there is little concept of registration for tradesmen and no concept of 10 year guarantees. 

In France there are greater risks for the person who engages the illicit worker, lack of guarantees, a more active control / policing system . Anybody doing construction work will fall under the ambit of the the registration system and anyone employing people without the correct paperwork will have no defence. IF (A big IF!) anything goes wrong either by way of investigation or accident.

Its like speeding. You know the law, you take the risk. But be aware the nature of the risk is different on the French side of La Manche.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Things are less regulated in uk for casual working, as others have said. Even if you decide to do everything formally, the tax system is encouraging rather than discouraging to small businesses. Thus the uk economy is healthier than the french. (among other reasons.) After taking early retirement I had several part time jobs, a few hours a week, most paid cash-in-hand. For one I had a statement for the tax man. I think this is why british people come here expecting to be able to do a few hours here and there to earn a bit of pocket money. And why other brits take them on as employees wihout thinking to check them out. Pat.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suppose one way the check would be to ask for an ID card (Carte d'identification). I was issued one by my local Chambre de Metier and it shows amongst other things, myArtisan status and the type of work I am registered to do along with my SIRET number.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]Someone we know, an english person, has been operating illegally as a builder for several years and has just been informed on to the gendarmes by a previous employee of his who was in trouble for anot...[/quote]

Universal problem!

Some years ago we needed a builder to help with our barn conversion and my OH in his wisdom employed this chap he had met in the pub! He claimed that he was made redundant and unemployed etc... but would do him great if we could employ him as he is looking hard but can't find any jobs etc...

He promised my OH that he was kosher and was going to pay his NIC and taxes etc...! as we did not want the bother of PAYE etc...

So the barn was raised and work went along fine! Until one day, too much addled idle talk on the Friday night in the pub, to someone else looking for a builder that my OH recommended ours (fair play this builder was always on time and never had a day off which we did not expect him to take at a moment's notice! and he taught us a lot as the project went along!) and give him his contact details because our own project was coming to an end anyway...

Who ever was that other person I don't know, my OH never saw him again!

But few weeks later we had letters from HM Inland Rev asking us back payment of that chap's NIC etc...!! Yet this builder told us he was kosher and we took it for granted that he was honnest about his condition!! We were not his secretary/book-keeper/accountant!! how could we have checked him??...

Anyway we managed to have the problem waved off but it shows that you can not trust some!!

and CERTAINLY not my OH when he has been to the pub on a Friday night!!!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you have become a little confused over this thread.

No I don't think so.

Not sure where BMW's came into it - I mentioned an Audi TT.

Oops must pay more attention to detail but then be it a Audi TT, BMW or whatever the fact was that the car was NOT important in it's self but your comment alluded to the fact that all people who worked on the black drove round in nice new expensive cars where as those that didn't could not afford them.

Assuming that you are registered and pay tax in France then you are funding all of those who are are 'working on the black'.

Assumption is a dangerous thing and my status in France is nothing to do with you or this thread. It's between me and my conscious.

To clarify my original postings - I would accept that many French registered artisans carry out some work for cash without devis and invoices.

At the other end of the scale we have English people living in France who are completely abusing the system - they have no desire to register and are only interested in working the system - to this end they want all the benefits of healthcare, schooling, etc without contributing anything.

Yes BUT is that not also what the French who work on the black are also doing. What I was pointing out in my first post in this thread was that working on the black is not just restricted to the English, the French do it as well. As such they are not paying their full wack towards health etc. If I was to believe what you are implying then all English work on the black which is very insulting to those that has taken the time to register. I think the French can teach the English a thing or two about "working the system".

Re your comments regarding the difficulty of becoming registered - this may be different in your area, but in 47 the Chambre de Metiers go out of their way to help artisans to get set up.

You missed the point. To register I am told you have to go on a course with say the Chambre de Metiers or whoever and for many English they initially find this a problem as their French is not good enough to understand the course. It is this that holds them back at the start not the actual system of registering which I believe is quite quick. I didn't have to take the course as I have been a company director and managed my accounts for over 10 years in the UK which was deemed to be sufficient for me not to go on the course.

It is a bit worrying that we have a moderator on the Forum who is advocating the use of English people working on the black.

Utter tosh. You have not read my posts properly either as I quote "However, don’t get me wrong, working on the black is illegal and means we all pay more tax to cover the short fall". What I do or do not do personally is absolutely none of your business.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm

Other than the diversion into teacher bashing (which I personally only do amongst friends who are teachers ! - smile-) this thread has said:

*Working to avoid tax occurs both sides of the channel, everybody has done it.

*a peculiarity of France is that there is more comeback on the 'buyer' for getting it wrong e.g.if a worker injures themselves, or if the work goes wrong and affects a third party. So buyer beware and look for the Siret.

 

Can I suggest a further refinement:

a)there are honest artisans/professionals who do their wack officially and occasionally do a little extra on the side.

b)there are serious 'tax avoiders' who purport to be businesses and are not carrying insurance, and may not have all the professional background they need.

EVERYBODY has used an a) and frankly the world is lubricated by the existence of a). I doubt the government of any country is that bothered.

whereas Most People should fear a b) as they have an interest in subverting the system, and may not have a 'stop-line' which relates to safety, ethics or whatever.

----

In a previous thread I have suggested that, in France, if we trust British artisans above French merely because they are British then we are doing what the Jews and Asians were accused of when they entered Britain, 'keeping the money within their own'.

Surely it only compounds the problem if we favour 'Brits on the black' vs. French Legit.

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Regarding the 'a' and 'b' categories above, it is worth bearing in mind that virtually every French business, and even more so, employees of French businesses, will put part of a job through the books, and do part 'cash in hand'. This is regarded as perfectly normal, even acceptable, in France and is an inevitable consequence of the highly expensive and bureaucratic system which does nothing to favour businesses, particularly small enterprises. Many people wil argue, with some justification, that legitimate British-run  businesses, being 'foreigners' will come under greater scrutiny than their domestic colleagues and so have to try harder to be seen to do things officially. Black-market businesses, of whatever nationality, tend to find it easier to avoid detection because the officials may not be aware of them in the first place.

A very common French scam, on large building projects, is to employ a proportion of cheap black-market unregistered subcontractors, usually from North Africa or Eastern Europe, while charging the customer full price. So as far as the customer is concerned, all is OK - he is employing a registered, insured company, but the workers are still black.

As far as 'b' is concerned, many of these people are registered. There are some I know of who have attended the Chambre de Metiers courses, but not speaking French have not understood a word and so remain blissfully unaware of the need to take out insurances, provide proper invoices and receipts etc. There are, unfortunately, French accountants who are used by these people who do nothing to advise their clients on proper business practices - just taking their fees every year.

Not sure about 'teacher bashing' but notaires were mentioned in the same original post. Many of them are certainly not above 'working the system' to maximise their fees, despite (or perhaps because of) having to work to a government-imposed scale of charges. Everybody does it - though that doesn't necessarily make it right.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

And when you see the social charges that these one-man bands with young children have to pay you can quite easily see why they are tempted.  I think the whole system needs a total overhaul and now think that old George W wasn't that far from the truth when he made his classic statement that "it's strange that the French don't have a word for entrepreneur".  If it were easier to set up in business and the charges weren't so crippling perhaps a lot more people would go legal, so although charges would be less, a lot more people would be paying them.  I certainly think more of the Brits working on the black would be more tempted to get into the system if it were easier and not so financially crippling.

In the Republic of Ireland a few years ago (not to long ago) the economy was in a similar situation.  Incredibly high taxes, a thriving black economy so what did the Govt do they made it easy to become legal and reduce taxes and also declared an amnesty.  Ireland's economy is now thriving.  Has lots of investment from overseas multi-nationals.  It just took a very strong government to introduce these measures.

Deby

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have been searching now for some weeks for someone to work as a 'handyman' for us, just general labour, obviously this is not professional work, and we've been down the artisan route and no one wants to do just a 'labouring job'. We've since found someone who will help us out, but I doubt very much that he is registered. I am obviously concerned about employing someone on the black, but left with little choice. Is there anything I can do to mitigate our liability, should anything happen?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you employ this person and they aren't registererd, then there is nothing you can do other than keep your fingers crossed and pray if you do that sort of thing,  that the person doesn't have an accident, that no one shops you, that the gendarmes don't come a knocking on your door and carting you off. It is 'illegal' and I can't see how you can make it a little bit legal.

Hopefully from January, if I have understood properly you should be able to employ someone like this under the new cheque emploi scheme for jobs like this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Where do I find a registered 'handyman' - not even sure if this is classed as a profession? I'm not trying to bypass the system, or even get things cheaper, just we've tried all other avenues and failed miserably!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Where do I find a registered 'handyman' - not even sure if this is classed as a profession? I'm not trying to bypass the system, or even get things cheaper, just we've tried all other avenues and failed miserably!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]Where do I find a registered 'handyman' - not even sure if this is classed as a profession? I'm not trying to bypass the system, or even get things cheaper, just we've tried all other avenues and fail...[/quote]

Along with all the other things that have been said regarding registered labour, the system is designed to encourage you (the property owner0 to have the work done by insured, registered tradesmen in the hope that it is done properly to a decent standard. The state doesn't want to encourage you to carry out extensive building works using black labour. In Holland (for example) you are not allowed to even paint your own house and it has been rumoured that similar laws may come in in France.

Artisans are continually complaining about the level of social charges they have to pay. At the end of 2005 when the incentive rate of TVA is suppossed to finish, the current building boom will slow down and the goverment will, once again, be under pressure from Artisans to reduce the number of illegal workers.

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
 Share

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

×
×
  • Create New...