It was after the deadly heatwave of 2003: President Chirac and his government considered sacrificing a public holiday to finance a National Solidarity Fund for Autonomy (CNSA). Relaxed in 2008, then extended to retirees, the mechanism brings in more than 3 billion euros per year.

1. How did this day of solidarity come about?

The summer of 2003 was marked by a heatwave which caused the premature death of some 15,000 people, most of them elderly.

Weakened by his long summer silence, weighed down by the management considered disastrous by the government of Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Jacques Chirac tried to regain control by announcing a symbolic measure: the French would have to work on a public holiday to finance solidarity in favor of the elderly.

The government is first thinking of May 8, before deciding in favor of Pentecost Monday, which has a double advantage. First of all, it is not a religious holiday – only Pentecost Sunday is. And by definition, Whit Monday never falls on the weekend and allows you to obtain constant resources.

The principle of this day of solidarity is transcribed in the law of June 30, 2004:

“A day of solidarity is established to ensure the financing of actions in favor of the autonomy of elderly or disabled people. It takes the form of an additional day of unpaid work for employees and the contribution [from employers to finance] the autonomy of the elderly and disabled people. »

The text of the law specifies that “in the absence of a convention or agreement, the day of solidarity is Pentecost Monday”.

Unevenly applied and the target of recurring criticism, the solidarity day was reformed in 2008. Since this date, companies have been free to choose the day on which employees will work to finance dependency, whether it is Pentecost Monday or any day of the year – with the exception of Christmas Day or Good Friday in Alsace and Moselle, subject to the Concordat.

2. Who works today, Pentecost Monday?

The 2008 relaxation gives employers more latitude: some opt to eliminate a day of leave or reduced working time (RTT), others give it as a gift to their employees. The general principle remains that employees work an additional 7 hours during the year without being paid. The SNCF, for example, had decided to distribute 1 minute 52 seconds of additional work per day.

According to a study by the Randstad group, carried out in 2016 among 25 of its temporary employment agencies, economic activity was down 70% on Pentecost Monday that year. Industry was almost at a standstill, apart from certain SMEs, while services, in particular businesses, were operating almost normally. A situation close to a classic public holiday, and a far cry from 2005, when 44% of employees worked on Pentecost Monday.

The CFTC union, which deplores these disparities between employees (and even more so with the liberal professions, who are not subject to the solidarity contribution), denounces the principle of working for free. Believing that the effort is unfairly distributed, he files a strike call every year to “cover” any private sector employee who decides not to work at Pentecost.

3. How does this day make money?

For his work, an employee receives a salary. The extra day – whether it is Pentecost Monday or any other day – is not paid extra. Which means that the employer wins since, for the same salary, his employee works more.

In return for this “gain”, the employer must pay 0.3% of its payroll to the National Solidarity Fund for Autonomy. This counterpart is called the autonomy solidarity contribution (CSA). Capital income, excluding popular savings such as Livret A, is also subject to this 0.3% levy.

Since April 1, 2013, retirees and disabled people subject to income tax must also contribute 0.3% of their pensions to financing dependency by paying the additional economic solidarity contribution (CASA). A windfall intended to finance the law “adapting society to aging” which came into force on January 1, 2016.

4. How much does Solidarity Day bring in?

According to the CNSA, the solidarity day was expected to bring in more than 3 billion euros for the year 2017: 2.367 billion euros financed by employee contributions (CSA) and 749 million paid by retirees (CASA). Since its establishment in 2004, the total amount paid for the autonomy of elderly and dependent people exceeds 36 billion euros.

5. How is the money used?

In 2017, the National Solidarity Autonomy Fund must redistribute the solidarity contribution paid by employees for the benefit of the elderly (60% of the amount) and the disabled (40%). The majority will finance specialized establishments (retirement homes, institutes for the disabled) and the other will be paid to the departments which manage the personalized autonomy allowance, the disability compensation benefit and the departmental homes for disabled people.

On the other hand, the additional contribution, levied on pensions and pensions, is not entirely used for concrete actions: in fact, it was created in 2013 when the law on autonomy had not been passed, and a large part of the 700 million euros collected each year has therefore not been used until now. In 2017, 10% of the amount remained outstanding (compared to 37% in 2016).

A report from the General Inspectorate of Social Affairs mentioned in 2010 a sum of 1.8 billion euros in unused surpluses. “We are deceiving employees and retirees, who are being asked to pay money for the elderly and disabled,” denounced Mr. Champvert, director of the Association of Directors for the Elderly (AD-PA) in 2010. .

On the side of the National Solidarity Fund, it is explained that only “a small part” of the under-consumed credits was reallocated to Health Insurance (which is one of its main contributors). In 2014, to compensate for the “pot” created by CASA, the State also reduced part of what it pays under the CSG: it is therefore an indirect way of diverting money from the fund to state finances.

The CNSA specified in 2016 that unused credits constitute “reserves” for the organization “which can be reallocated in subsequent years to expenses linked to [its] field of intervention” and that the sums taken from salaries and French pensions should be “fully allocated to the CNSA”.