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15 February 2017

France: entry into force of the Personal Activity Account

One of the key measures of the labour market reforms adopted in 2015 and 2016, the Personal Activity Account (CPA), entered into force on 1 January 2017. It aims to enable people to acquire entitlements to training throughout their career without losing them if they change employer. This provision also seeks to better direct vocational training funds towards less skilled workers and job-seekers.

Announced in April 2015, the Personal Activity Account entered into force on 1 January 2017. It is an individual account, which each beneficiary can set up on a dedicated website ( and which will bring together the entitlements to training acquired in the various situations detailed below. The aims of the CPA are to strengthen the autonomy and the freedom of action of the holder, and to provide greater security for his/her career by doing away with obstacles to mobility. As of 1 January, a CPA can be set up, in particular, by anyone aged 16 or over who has a job, is looking for a job or is involved in a vocational guidance and integration project.

The CPA brings together the training entitlements included in two existing accounts and a new account also launched on 1 January:

  • The Personal Training Account (CPF) enables people aged 16 or over to acquire rights to training that will be included in an account that will remain valid throughout their career, even if they change employer. Every year this account will be credited automatically with hours, based on the declarations made by the employer. For a full-time employee, the account will be credited with 24 hours a year up to 120 hours, then with 12 hours a year up to a maximum of 150 hours. This account will be extended to all workers, including the self-employed and civil servants, in January 2018.
  • The Personal Hardship Account (C3P) enables a worker exposed to arduous conditions, beyond certain thresholds, to set up an account and accumulate points in it. Each year four points will be credited if he/she is exposed to a single risk factor, while workers born before July 1956 and exposed to several risks will receive up to 16 points. The points can be converted into training entitlements to enable the person to retrain for a job with less arduous conditions.
  • The Citizen Engagement Account, also created on 1 January 2017, enables people involved in volunteer work to acquire training entitlements. They may be members of the ‘military reserve’, relaunched after the 2016 attacks to provide backup for law enforcement, or they may be employees who look after a young trainee. This account will enable the holders to acquire up to 60 hours of training, which will be financed by the legal entities responsible for the volunteer activity concerned.

A person’s entitlements in their CPA are acquired throughout their career and do not expire. They may be consulted online. Only the person who holds these training entitlements can decide how to use them. An employer can ask him/her to use them for specific training but cannot force him/her to agree to it, and refusal to do so cannot be penalised.

Although most of the trade unions support the creation of the Personal Activity Account, in particular the CFDT, which had pushed for this social advance in order to justify its support for the 2016 labour market reform, some are disappointed with its minimal nature, far from the ‘professional social security’ that the CGT desires. It sees it as an ‘empty shell’. Indeed, the current content of the CPA is far removed from the initial idea, which was to bring together in a single account all of a person’s social rights, irrespective of their status (unemployed, employee, self-employed) in order to reduce inequalities. Nevertheless, the CPA can be seen as a stepping stone towards that goal. Everything will depend on the results of the next presidential election in May and the capacity of the social partners to resume the negotiations to strengthen this provision.

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