France has a highly developed social welfare system. The social security fund is financed by contributions from both employers and employees, calculated on percentages of wages and salaries, and is partially subsidized by the government. Old age insurance guarantees payment of a pension when the insured reaches age 60. Disability insurance pays a pension to compensate for the loss of earnings and costs of care. Survivorship payment recipients must be at lest 55 years old and married for two years if there are no children. Unemployment insurance is provided for all workers. Workers' medical benefits are paid directly for all necessary care. Family allowances are paid to those with children and earnings of less than 55% of the minimum wage. There is a child-rearing allowance for those who quit work to raise a second or subsequent child until that child reaches three years of age. There is an allowance for employed parents to pay for child care in their home. Benefits also go to those paying for accredited child care. Special payments fare available for caring for a seriously ill or handicapped child. Monthly benefits are paid to families having at least two dependent children and single-parent families. Maternity benefits are payable for six weeks before and 10 weeks after the expected date of childbirth for the first and second child, with increasing be
Equal pay for equal work is mandated by law, although this is not always the case in practice. Men continue to earn more than women and unemployment rates are higher for women than for men. Sexual harassment is illegal in the workplace but the laws are limited and the penalties are modest. Rape and spousal abuse laws are strictly enforced and the penalties are severe. Shelters, counseling, and hotlines are available to victims of sexual abuse and violence.
Religious freedom is provided for by the Constitution. However, large Arab/Muslim, African, and Jewish communities have been subject to harassment and prejudice. Extremist anti-immigrant groups have increasingly been involved in racial attacks. Discrimination on the basis of race, sex, disability, language, religion, or social status is prohibited.