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Training possibilities in France

formation_management_communicationIn France, every employer is legally obliged to contribute to professional training for their employees. These contributions are generally paid to OPCAs (Approved Joint Collecting Organisations) which are then entrusted with their management. The funds are therefore intended for training employees and may be used in various ways.

If  you are an employee, don’t hesitate to have a chat with your employer, or manager…

As well as this, independent workers, non-salaried managers, the learned professions, traders, craftsmen, heads of companies… are also subject to this obligation to contribute to vocational training and in this capacity, they may also take advantage of the cost of their training being covered. Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your situation.

A brief tour of the various possibilities currently available:


The Training Plan is established directly by the employer.

He/she decides what training is necessary for his/her employees to maintain the firm’s competitivity or for it to evolve. This training is decided either directly by the employer (and their managers who pass on their requirements as well as those of their staff), or requested by the employee, for example during the annual evaluation interview.


The Training Plan must be used to finance the training needed by an employee to properly complete the mission entrusted to him/her and it must be directly linked to their functions.

This training is generally financed by means of the OPCA, who manage all firms within the same branch (or several branches). It is better not to wait until the last minute to request training because budgets are established for the whole branch and they are not unlimited.

 As a general rule, a firm can expect to benefit from the same budget as the amount of subscriptions it paid, but the OPCA has the final word as to whether or not the cost is covered. It is then up to the employer – if the application is refused – to finance any training they deem important, out of their own pocket if they wish to.



The Individual Right to Training (“DIF”) was introduced in May 2004. It allows all employees (and therefore does not involve traders, independent workers…) to capitalise 20 hours of training every year.

 An employee begins to accumulate these hours as soon as he/she starts work with a firm, but may only use them from January 1st, once he/she has worked there for one year. The hours can be accumulated for a maximum of six years, 120 hours in all and they are calculated pro rate temporis for part-time employees.

The employer is obliged to inform all employees, at least once every year, of the number of DIF hours accumulated. This may be done by means of information on the pay slip or in a separate document.

How to apply for training in the DIF scheme

The employee must submit their application to their employer in writing and in good time. The training is not necessarily directly connected to their functions, but the chances of obtaining the employer’ s approval are higher if there is chance of added value for the firm!

Moreover, the OPCA publish DIF eligibility criteria for every branch in two sections: the priority DIF and the non-priority DIF and they generally have different rates of financial coverage.

Once the employer receives an application from their employee, he/she has one month to respond, whether favourably or unfavourably (the answer will be dependent on their OPCA’s response, which may – or may not – agree to cover the cost of the training).

Important note: if there is no reply from the employer within one month, the DIF application is legally considered to be accepted.

What to do if the application is refused

If the employer refuses the training, the employee may re-apply the following year. After two refusals, the employee may transform this DIF application to a CIF (Individual Leave for Training).

Transferable DIF

Since the law dated November 24th 2009 (which came into effect on 26.01.2009), it has been possible to carry over one’s DIF hours credit (as long as it has not been used!) when a labour contract is terminated.

 These hours may be used, either during the notice period or after leaving the firm, as a job-seeker or within the framework of a VAE (validation of experience acquired) evaluation.

Who is eligible?

The situations that allow you to use the transferable DIF are:

  • dismissal for personal reasons
  • dismissal for misconduct
  • dismissal on economic grounds (not including acceptance of the personal reclassification agreement or a professional transition contract)
  • contract termination
  • end of temporary employment or anticipated termination of temporary employment
  • legitimate resignation, as defined by unemployment benefit regulations.

Bear in mind that in the event of retirement or dismissal for a serious offence, you are not entitled to a DIF.

What obligations does the former employer have regarding information?

The employer must give any employee who leaves their firm a certificate of employment, in which the following are specified, as well as the usual statements:

  • the balance of the number of hours acquired for their DIF and which have not been used
  • the amount corresponding to this balance (9.15 Euros X balance in N° of hours)
  • the approved joint collecting organisation to which the firm contributes for professional training.
What financial contribution is possible?

DIF transferable hours are counted as per the following calculation: Balance of unused hours acquired X 9.15 Euros before tax.

N.B. If the cost of the training is higher than the transferable DIF hours balance , the remainder will be charged to the applicant.

How to take advantage of the transferable DIF during the notice period

The employer is bound to indicate – in the dismissal notification letter – the number of DIF hours acquired but not used. He/she must inform the employer of the possibility of filing a DIF application before the end of the notice period.

In this case, the employer’s approval is not required.

If the training takes place, it can be done during the notice period, after the termination or in between them.

How to take advantage of the transferable DIF as a job-seeker

First of all, you must prepare your training project. To do this, once you have identified the training you wish to follow and identified the organisation with which you wish to complete the training, ask the organisation for an estimate (in which their activity declaration number must be shown) and a detailed curriculum.

N.B. If the cost of the training is higher than the amount shown on your certificate of employment, the training organisation must draft a professional training contract, specifying your financial contribution.

 Second phase: file your application with “Pôle Emploi”, supplying the following documents:

  • Estimate and training programme
  • Copy of the certificate of employment you were given by your former employer
  • The professional training contract specifying your financial contribution, if necessary.

 The third phase is the application for financing by your former employer’s OPCA (the name is shown on the certificate that your employer is obliged to give you).

N.B. Find out – in advance – the deadlines applicable to the examination of your application (which vary depending on the OPCA).

Send them the documents required for the financial study

  • Completed application for the financial coverage of the transferable DIF
  • Notification from the Pôle Emploi advisor (favourable or unfavourable)
  • Estimate and training curriculum
  • Copy of your certificate of employment
  • Professional training contract, if necessary.

 The OPCA grants finance according to current regulations and sends notification of their approval:

  • to the job-seeker
  • to Pôle Emploi for information
  • to the Training organisation

 The OPCA then pays the training organisation directly, once the training has been completed and justification has been provided…

 N.B. In certain cases, Pôle Emploi may grant a subsidy to complement the DIF. This arrangement – known as AIF + DIF – may cover up to 1500 € more than the transferable DIF.

How to implement your transferable DIF with your new employer

You may apply to use your transferable DIF with your new employer

The application must be made within two years of you being recruited.

Your application is subject to the approval of the employer to follow training schemes, validation of experience acquired or competency evaluation.

In the event of the employer not granting approval, you may nevertheless file an application, for financing your transferable DIF, to the OPCA to which your new employer contributes for vocational training. The action financed must comply with the priorities laid out for each branch or with the inter-professional agreement applicable to the firm. In this case, the training takes place outside working hours and the training allowance is not paid.


December 2012.