Rivermate | French Polynesia flag

French Polynesia

Freelancing and Independent Contracting

Understand the distinctions and regulations for freelancers in French Polynesia

Difference employees and contractors

In French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France, the distinction between employees and independent contractors is primarily based on the concept of "subordination" (subordination du travail).

Employee (Salarié)

An employee is under the authority and direction of the employer. The French Labour Code (Code du travail de la France) in Article L.8221-6 presumes an employment contract when three elements are present:

  • Execution of Tasks (ExĂ©cution d'un travail): The worker performs a specific service under the employer's direction.
  • Remuneration (RĂ©munĂ©ration): The worker receives compensation for their work.
  • Subordination (Lien de subordination): This is the crucial element. The worker is under the employer's control regarding work hours, methods, and discipline.

Employees enjoy various legal protections, including:

  • Minimum wage (salaire minimum interprofessionnel garanti - SMIG)
  • Paid time off (congĂ©s payĂ©s)
  • Social security contributions (cotisations sociales)
  • Dismissal procedures (procĂ©dures de licenciement)

Independent Contractor (Travailleur indépendant)

An independent contractor is self-employed and not under an employer's control. Article L.8221-6-1 of the French Labour Code presumes independent contractor status when an individual's working conditions are defined by themselves or a contract, independent of the client's specifications.

Independent contractors are responsible for:

  • Managing their own taxes and social security contributions
  • Providing their own equipment and tools
  • Finding their own clients

Independent contracting

Independent contracting is a viable option for both businesses and skilled individuals in French Polynesia. However, there are specific nuances to consider before entering into such agreements. This guide explores the key aspects of independent contracting in French Polynesia, including contract structures, negotiation practices, and prevalent industries.

Contract Structures

French Polynesian law heavily emphasizes employee protection. Therefore, structuring an independent contractor agreement requires careful attention. Here are some common contract structures:

  • Prestation de service (Service provision): This is the most common structure for independent contractors. The contract outlines the specific services to be provided, timeline, deliverables, and compensation.
  • Contrat de mission (Mission contract): This type of contract is used for short-term, specific projects. It's well-suited for consultants or freelancers brought in for a particular task.
  • CAE (Contrat d'ActivitĂ© d'Exercice): This is a specific status for self-employed individuals offering intellectual services. It provides some social security benefits but comes with registration requirements.

Negotiation Practices

Negotiation practices in French Polynesia tend to be more collaborative than confrontational. Building rapport and trust is crucial. Here are some key points to remember:

  • Negotiations are often conducted in French. Proficiency in the language is a plus.
  • Be prepared to discuss all aspects of the contract, including fees, deliverables, timelines, and termination clauses.
  • French Polynesian law leans towards worker protection. Ensure the contract clearly defines the independent contractor relationship and avoids any ambiguity.

Common Industries for Independent Contracting

Several industries in French Polynesia commonly utilize independent contractors:

  • Tourism: Tour guides, freelance writers specializing in travel content, and marketing consultants are all in demand.
  • Information Technology: Web developers, programmers, and IT security specialists can find opportunities as independent contractors.
  • Creative Industries: Graphic designers, photographers, and videographers can leverage their skills through independent contracting arrangements.
  • Construction: For specialized or short-term projects, construction companies may hire independent contractors for specific tasks.

Intellectual property rights

In French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France, the intellectual property (IP) law of France is followed. This provides a robust framework for freelancers and independent contractors to safeguard their creative works.

Types of Intellectual Property

Freelancers should be aware of several categories of IP:

  • Copyright: This protects original expressions in literary, artistic, and scientific works, including writing, code, designs, and music as per the French Intellectual Property Code, Article L111-1. Freelancers are granted exclusive rights to reproduce, adapt, and distribute their creations.
  • Trademarks: These distinguish goods or services from competitors as per the French Intellectual Property Code, Article L711-1. Freelancers can register logos, slogans, or brand names to prevent others from using them.
  • Patents: These protect inventions that are new, involve an inventive step, and are capable of industrial application as per the French Intellectual Property Code, Article L611-1. If a freelancer develops a unique process or device, a patent can grant exclusive rights to produce and sell it.

Ownership and Contracts

  • Default Ownership: In the absence of a written agreement, the freelancer who creates the work is the presumed owner of the copyright as per the French Intellectual Property Code, Article L111-1.
  • Contractual Agreements: Freelancing contracts should clearly define ownership of IP rights. The client can commission a work made-for-hire, where they own the copyright from creation as per the French Intellectual Property Code, Article L111-1. Alternatively, the freelancer can retain ownership and grant the client a license to use the work under specific conditions.

Protecting Your Rights

  • Registration: Copyright arises automatically upon creation. However, registering works with the Service de la propriĂ©tĂ© intellectuelle (SPI) in French Polynesia provides stronger legal proof of ownership.
  • Trademarks: Registration with the Institut National de la PropriĂ©tĂ© Industrielle (INPI) in France offers nationwide protection, including French Polynesia.
  • Patents: Filing a patent application with INPI initiates the patenting process.

Tax and insurance

As a freelancer or independent contractor in French Polynesia, you're considered a non-salaried worker (travailleur non salarié, TNS) and have specific tax obligations.

H3 Income Tax (ImpĂ´t sur le Revenu)

You'll file under the BIC (Bénéfices Industriels et Commerciaux) tax regime for commercial activities or the BNC (Bénéfices Non Commerciaux) regime for non-commercial activities. Income tax is progressive, meaning your tax rate increases as your income rises. Rates are set annually by the territorial government. You'll typically make quarterly prepayments based on your estimated income for the year.

H3 Social Contributions (Cotisations Sociales)

You're required to contribute to the social security system (Sécurité Sociale) for benefits like retirement, healthcare, and unemployment. Contribution rates vary depending on your chosen social security scheme, typically ranging from 12.8% to 40% of your income. You'll usually pay these contributions along with your income tax prepayments.

H3 Additional Taxes

Depending on your activity and income level, you might be subject to additional taxes like the Territorial Solidarity Contribution (Contribution de Solidarité Territoriale, CST).

While not mandatory, having insurance can provide valuable protection for your freelance business.

H3 Professional Liability Insurance (Responsabilité Civile Professionnelle)

This insurance protects you from financial claims arising from negligence or errors made while performing your services.

H3 Health Insurance (Mutuelle)

This insurance supplements the public healthcare system by covering additional expenses or offering quicker access to specialists.

H3 Retirement Insurance (Prévoyance Retraite)

This insurance helps build a retirement nest egg as social security benefits might not be sufficient.

Rivermate | A 3d rendering of earth

Hire your employees globally with confidence

We're here to help you on your global hiring journey.