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|Index||Score||Global Average||Due Diligence Response|
The Workplace Index measures child labour and decent work for young workers, parents and caregivers.
To what extent does the state regulate marketing and advertising, and ensure children are not harmed through product use?
Community and Environment Index
To what extent does the state encourage the responsible extraction and use of natural resources, limit damage to the environment, and protect children from displacement?
The following provides a brief analysis of the country data and scores behind the Atlas. To fully understand impacts on children’s rights, we encourage all companies to consult relevant industry analysis, and to conduct due diligence.
Credit: © UNICEF/UNI36719/Toutounji
France is one of the best countries in the world to be a child, according to Atlas data, due to the country’s strong legal framework, and the good quality of health, social, and education services. Nevertheless, there are areas where children face challenges. In particular, there are 3 million children living in poverty, and migrant children and their families are particularly vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion.
France’s Corporate Duty of Vigilance Law requires companies to conduct due diligence to identify and prevent adverse human rights and environmental impacts resulting from their own activities, from activities of companies under their control, and from activities of their subcontractors and suppliers.
France has some of the strongest protections in the world for decent work and child labour, which are reflected in the country’s score in the basic due diligence category in the Workplace Index. The country has ratified 17 of the 22 international instruments measured in the Index and enacted a number of national laws to implement these standards. Nevertheless, some challenges are reflected in indicators measuring enforcement of labour standards.
Maternity protections and parental leave
Maternity and paternity protections are vital to parents’ ability to provide an adequate standard of living to their children, supporting their health, development and well-being.
France has not yet ratified ILO Convention No. 182 on Maternity Protections. Mothers benefit from 16 weeks of maternity leave, which is more than the 14 weeks stipulated in convention No. 182 but less than the 18 weeks encouraged by Recommendation No. 191 on Maternity Protections. During the leave period, women are paid 100% of their previous earnings and benefit from job protection. Fathers are entitled to 11 days of paternity leave.
In practice, over 90% of women are covered by maternity leave and cash benefits, according to the ILO. However, the length of maternity leave being less than six months is a key reason for the country’s low rate of exclusive breastfeeding. Just 19% of infants are exclusively breastfed for the first six months, as recommended by WHO and UNICEF – far below the global average of 40%.
Access to good quality childcare is also a key challenge. According to a 2015 report, 61% of children under 3 are cared for by their parents, 19% are cared by a licensed childminder and just 13% are in early childhood specialized establishments. Although parents can benefit from a tax credit to mitigate the cost of childcare, each year many are unable to enrol their children in nursery due to lack of availability.
Working conditions for parents and young workers
In France, the standard working week is 35 hours, and in practice average working hours are 36.4 per week according to ILO data. Including overtime, maximum hours are 48 per week and 10 per day. France's minimum wage of €9.76 per hour is one of the highest in Europe, and average monthly wages are nearly $4,000 per month.
Unlike in some other EU countries, the minimum wage in France is applicable to all working adults regardless of age or experience. However, adolescents under 17 with fewer than six months of experience in professional work can be paid 80% of the minimum wage; those aged 17-18 years can be paid 90% of the minimum wage. The maximum working day for apprentices and workers under 18 is 8 hours (7 hours a day for under-16s working during school holidays).
France scores in the basic due diligence category in the Marketplace Index. France has a strong legal framework on product safety and protecting children from harmful marketing and advertising. The biggest challenges are reflected in outcome indicators measuring children’s online safety.
Children’s online safety
France has ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. The country is also a member of the We Protect Global Alliance, an international movement dedicated to national and global action to end the sexual exploitation of children online.
France has recently adopted several laws to protect children from pornography and violence on the internet. National laws require internet providers to inform adults on the parental control options. Reporting systems have been established, as well as age verification and warnings when entering unsuitable websites. Public authorities have also launched campaigns to raise parents’ awareness on the risks to children online.
In July 2018, the French Government passed a law on cyberbullying, which includes tougher sanctions for online group harassment. According to the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey, 28% of children in France experience bullying. According to a report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Children, France is considered a medium risk country for bullying.
Marketing and advertising to children
France has made notable strides in promoting children’s health and nutrition through responsible marketing practices. National laws limit children’s exposure to harmful marketing by prohibiting the advertising of tobacco and alcohol products and restricting the marketing of high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) foods to children and adolescents. In addition to public awareness campaigns on healthy eating, adverts for food and drink must carry healthy eating messages to tackle obesity. In 2017, the government launched nutrition labelling requirements to more clearly indicate the levels of fat and sugar in food products.
Nevertheless, there are rising levels of obesity in France linked to the marketing of HFSS foods to children and parents. According to WHO data, 30% of children and adolescents aged 5-19 years are overweight. These rates have increased despite government efforts to reduce marketing of HFSS foods to children. Food and beverage companies should ensure that due diligence efforts incorporate marketing practices which limit marketing of HFSS foods to children, adolescents and parents.
Selling tobacco or alcohol to children (under 18) is strictly prohibited in France. National laws also prohibit advertisements for tobacco and alcoholic beverages targeting youth. In 2015, France became the second country to mandate neutral cigarette packaging. Despite these efforts, France has some of the highest youth smoking and alcohol consumption rates in Europe; according to WHO data, about 20% of adolescents aged 13-15 use tobacco products, and adolescents aged 15-19 consume on average 13.9 litres of pure alcohol per year.
Community and Environment
France scores in the basic due diligence category in the Community and Environment Index. France has some of the strongest protections in the world for children’s rights, and scores among the best countries in the world in socio-economic indicators. Nevertheless, children still face challenges in relation to environmental protection, and there are significant disparities. The most disadvantaged children in France include migrant, refugee and minority children.
France is known for being a leading country on tackling environmental issues, having hosted the Paris climate summit, and ratifying the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The country has robust environmental policies and protections. According to the OECD, France has significantly improved its environmental performance over the last ten years.
Air quality is a crucial issue in France. In Paris and other regions, pollution levels often exceed EU targets, and children are more vulnerable than adults to the negative impacts of air pollution. Nevertheless, the country has low child death rates due to ambient air pollution (0.1 deaths per 100,000 children) and unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene (0.5 deaths per 100,000).
Education and health
Children in France benefit from some of the best education and healthcare systems in the world. This is reflected in France’s performance in the KidsRights Education and Health indices, where France scores 0.867/1 and 0.952/1, respectively.
However, enrolment rates in schooling is not always a guarantee for a quality education. The 2015 PISA study reported strong inequalities between students based on social class: nearly 40% of students from disadvantaged backgrounds are considered to be struggling, compared with the OECD average of only 34%. The children of migrants, which account for 13% of 15-year-olds in France, also scored lower than their non-migrant counterparts.
National health insurance covers an average of 85% of the population. However, there are still notable child health challenges. For example, France has much lower vaccination rate among very young people than other EU countries, for both compulsory and recommended vaccines. For example, only 90% of children in France are vaccinated against the measles, compared with the WHO recommendation of 95%. To reverse the trend, the government has made 11 vaccines mandatory for all children.
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