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Advice line: seasonal work in the French Alps

Fancy a spell working in a French ski resort? Think again, warns Birgit Mueller-Winkler.

Each year, more than 100 UK physiotherapists apply for seasonal work in the French Alps during the winter – attracted by the prospect of combining their work with the chance to live in a ski resort with unlimited access to snow and slopes.

This sounds appealing, but the reality is often far from this ideal picture. All physiotherapists practising in France, and this includes those working for British tour operators, must be registered with the Ordre des Masseurs Kinésithérapeutes (the French equivalent to the UK’s Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The registration process may take longer than expected as all documents have to be translated into French and applicants must demonstrate a good command of French. At present, applicants must go through an interview-style language test in the Paris office unless they have a language test result equivalent to the ‘test de connaissance du français’ (TCF) level B2.

Although there is an option of ‘temporary registration’ – with less paperwork, language requirements still apply. Under this scheme, according to the French regulator, registration is currently granted for a maximum of three months – whereas the ski season lasts about four to five months. As a consequence, it seems that some international physios decided to ‘bend the rules’. The CSP received emails from members expressing concerns that overseas physios seem to be practising in French ski resorts without registration.  As part of its approach to professionalism, the CSP refers to members’ duty of care, which may include taking action to report certain circumstances to others, including the French regulator.

Avoiding registration is not an option, is clearly against the law and can lead to hefty fines or a two-year prison sentence, let alone the consequences to HCPC registration. CSP insurance for temporary work abroad only covers members who are registered and eligible to practise in the host country. Email questions on this topic to international@csp.org.uk For more information, visit www.csp.org.uk/dutytoreport

Birgit Mueller Winkler is a CSP professional adviser

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