France has the highest non-wage labour costs in Europe — more than double those in the UK

Graham Charles Lear
5 min readApr 8, 2021

Maybe this is one reason France’s Airbus now plans to stay in the UK?

Last week the EU published its latest figures for average wage costs for companies across the bloc. As usual, these revealed the total nonsense that is the EU’s talk of a “level playing field”, which it continues to insist must be adhered to by the UK.

How much does it cost a company to employ someone, on top of their wages?

Analysis of the figures shows just how much Brexit Britain can surge ahead of countries such as France in the post-Covid employment stakes.

It is widely understood that direct wages are only part of a company’s total labour costs. On top of these, there are what are known as “non-wage labour costs”. Here is how the EU defines these:

“Non-wage costs include the employers’ social contributions [N.I. etc] plus employment taxes regarded as labour costs less subsidies intended to refund part or all of employer’s cost of direct remuneration.”

Looking at these, the comparison between Brexit Britain and President Macron’s France is stark.

How much per hour does it cost to employ someone, on top of their pay?

Average labour costs per person, other than wages and salaries

United Kingdom: €5.10 per hour

France: €12.00 per hour

According to the EU Commission, France has the highest non-wage labour costs in the EUSource: Official EU data released Wed 31 Mar 2021

When considering the total costs of employing someone, the average cost over and above wages for UK-based employers is less than half the average cost of employing someone in France.

France-based Airbus changes its tune on Brexit

Last week the current CEO of France’s Airbus SAS — the largest civilian plane maker in the world, is headquartered in Toulouse — gave an interview to the Daily Telegraph, giving an upbeat assessment of the Company’s involvement in the UK. It was not always so.

Back in 2018, the then CEO of the French government-backed Airbus delivered yet another damning indictment of Brexit, warning of the dangers posed to the company’s 14,000 UK staff and many more in the supply chain who feed into the company’s wine-making plant in Wales, and design centre near Bristol.

Airbus said that a hard Brexit would mean “severe disruption and interruption of UK production, forcing Airbus to reconsider its investments in the UK and its long-term footprint in the country”. The Airbus COO commented:

“In any scenario, Brexit has severe negative consequences for the UK aerospace industry and Airbus in particular. Therefore, immediate mitigation measures would need to be accelerated.…. Far from Project Fear, this is a dawning reality for Airbus.”

- Airbus COO, 2018

Now Airbus is committed to growing in Brexit Britain

In his interview with the Telegraph last week, however, the new Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury is reported to have laughed when asked about the possibility of moving production out of Britain.

“We want to grow in the UK. We will be willing to do more than we are doing today, to have a win-win for the UK and Airbus.”

- Airbus CEO, Guillaume Faury, 2021

The United Kingdom has always been far out in front. Typically you were twice as likely to be out of a job in the EU27 as you were in the UK.

When it comes to youth unemployment the situation has been even worse. Some countries in the EU have essentially seen almost a generation condemned, with rates as high as 50% in some countries.

In the new post-Covid era we are entering, the challenges for businesses are immense. People who are involved in business know where they would rather employ people. And it would not be in France.

Brexit Britain now has a wonderful opportunity — far ahead of the EU in the vaccination stakes and with a much more appealing basis of employment law and associated costs.

After years of negative and depressing commentary from the anti-Brexit Remainer Establishment, I suspect that business leaders will now be viewing the future in the United Kingdom with rather more optimism than some of their counterparts in the EU.

To be honest, If this is the EU’s idea of a “level playing field”, heaven help them.

The latest official EU figures show what nonsense the EU’s “level playing field” really is

Why it’s better to employ in Brexit Britain than in the EU.

The UK’s companies have a competitive edge over French-based companies. Let's look purely at average hourly wages and salaries across the EU bloc. How much are people paid in each country, on average?

Average hourly wages/salaries across the EU in 2020

Lowest: Bulgaria — €5.40 (£4.66) per hour

Highest: Denmark — €45. (£33.97) per hour

The average salary for one Dane would cover the average salaries of seven Bulgarians combined

These are the EU’s own official figures for 2020

The results of my research are above and they relate to last year, 2020. What they show is just how absurd the EU’s whole idea of a “level playing field” really is.

In the services sector, the wage bill is often the highest component in the variable cost base for a business. In the manufacturing sector, it is highly significant, after materials and other manufacturing costs.

For completeness, the EU does not report the UK’s average hourly earnings for 2020 but the figure for 2019 was €23.40 (£20.17) per hour. With the UK Home Office stating that more than five million EU citizens having applied for permanent residency so far, it is perhaps not surprising that UK salaries are so far below those in comparable EU countries. There can surely be no doubt that the plentiful supply of labour from the EU has depressed wages in the UK for many years.

With the average Dane being paid over seven times the salary of the average Bulgarian, I have exposed the propaganda published by the EU Commission over the years of the Brexit negotiations.

It is not credible for the Commission to talk as if the EU is one country — as they consistently do — when such disparities exist within the individual nations of the bloc itself. For the Commission to go on to insist that the United Kingdom, a newly independent country again, should somehow follow EU ‘standards’ in order to trade with the EU quite simply beggars belief.

Not only does this represent fiction when it comes to matters like corporation tax (ask the Irish government about that one) but I have shown how something as basic as people’s average income is as uneven in the EU27 as could be imagined.

Despite the Commission’s best endeavours — and those of the fanatical supra-statists in the EU Parliament such as Guy Verhofstadt — the EU countries themselves are not even close to finding any form of “level playing field” within their own bloc.

The next time Lord Frost is in any meeting with the EU Commissioners and one of these technocrats mentions “level playing field”, I suggest he just smiles and slides a copy of our of this chart across the table.



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.