What is the status of the entrepreneur's spouse or partner?

Starting up a business as a couple involves making some important choices. The person who is married, in a civil partnership or in a common-law relationship with the business owner, and who regularly participates in his or her business, whether it's a craft, commercial or industrial activity, needs to specify his or her status, which will determine his or her rights. Which should the spouse or partner choose?

The different possible statuses of the business owner's spouse or partner

The choice of status is decisive for the business owner's spouse, as his or her social rights and professional obligations depend on it. It is possible to choose one of three types of status.

Collaborating spouse

This status is available to the spouse or PACS partner of a sole trader, a sole managing partner of a EURL with fewer than 20 employees, or a majority managing partner of a SARL or SELARL with fewer than 20 employees.

To qualify, the spouse must be regularly employed by the company, not be remunerated, and not be a partner in the company. In return, the spouse is affiliated to the Social Security system as a self-employed worker, and has access to continuing professional training.

Employed spouse

The status of salaried spouse is available to the spouse, PACS partner or cohabitee of a sole trader, company director, sole managing partner or majority managing partner of a SARL.

An employed spouse must participate regularly in the company's activities, benefit from an employment contract and a salary that cannot be less than the minimum wage. As such, they enjoy the same rights as any other employee.

Associate spouse

The spouse, PACS partner or cohabitee of a manager of a SARL, SNC, SARL or SAS may opt for the status of associate spouse, provided they hold shares in the company and work there regularly.

Declaration of spouse's status

The PACTE Act of May 22, 2019 strengthens the protection of the spouse of a business owner by requiring them to declare their status.

In concrete terms, if the collaboration begins as soon as the business is set up, the business owner must attach a declaration to the business start-up application sent to the CFE (Centre de Formalités des Entreprises), attesting to the regular exercise of the spouse's activity and the status chosen.

If the collaboration begins when the company has already been created, or if the spouse wishes to change status or cease his or her activity, the company director must file an amending declaration with the CFE within two months of the change.

From now on, these declarations will have to be accompanied by a sworn statement signed by the spouse or PACS partner confirming the choice of status. TheOrder of August 6, 2021 introducing this obligation specifies that the attestation must also clearly mention the identification of the spouse or PACS partner, and the identification of the company.