In France, the 2005 law gave us, among other things, the right to publicly-funded Personal Assistance. After filing a request to the local agency responsible for disabled people, we are allocated a number of personal assistance hours per day. The local agency only gives us funding based on an hourly rate, and we are responsible for finding the assistants. We have several ways to get Personal Assistants: we can contract an agency, but we can also hire and manage our personals assistants ourselves.
Contrarily to some other countries, the hourly rate we receive depends on whether we use an agency or we hire directly; in particular, the rate is lower if we hire directly. In terms of Independent Living, lots of people decide to hire directly their PAs to be able to select them, train them, and precisely manage their assistance. However, with the lesser amount given to disabled people hiring their own personal assistants, it is difficult to comply with the Labour Code and the applicable collective agreement. In fact, the Coordination Handicap et Autonomie (a French member of ENIL) has been fighting for years to have a sufficient hourly rate for employers to comply with the law and not have to tap into their savings to fund their personal assistance.
A new collective agreement covering personal assistants was approved by unions in 2021, applicable on January 1st 2022, increasing the social contributions due by employers, and thus the cost of hiring personal assistants. As soon as we learned about this new agreement, in August, we contacted the government and every national administrations in charge of PA law and its application. After a lot of discussions, in April we succeeded to have a slightly better rate. Yet, the new rate is still not covering the full true cost of hiring personal assistants.
The fight goes on!