France: the duration of unemployment benefits reduced by a quarter – 2022-11-21 at 14:25


A Pole Emploi panel can be seen in front of one of its offices in Noisy-le-Grand

by Caroline Palliez

PARIS (Reuters) – The duration of jobseekers’ benefits will be cut by a quarter to “encourage” unemployment benefit recipients to find work.

The French government has presented to the social partners the unemployment insurance reform which introduces a mechanism for adjusting compensation rules based on the labor market situation, with the aim of responding to companies’ hiring difficulties.

The unemployment rate calculated according to International Labor Office (ILO) standards stood at 7.3% in the third quarter in France, the lowest level in fourteen years, while, according to the ministry, 60% of companies claims to have recruitment difficulties.

“With this reform, we have maintained one of the most generous unemployment benefit systems in Europe,” Olivier Dussopt assured during a press conference.

The duration of the benefit will therefore be reduced by a quarter of their time for unemployment benefit recipients – with the exception of people looking for work in the Overseas Territories or even intermittent entertainers.

This means, for example, that a jobseeker who was currently eligible for 24 months of benefits will only receive benefits for 18 months.

Rights will only be fully restored if the unemployment rate according to the ILO exceeds 9% or if its quarterly evolution exceeds 0.8%, specified Olivier Dussopt.

However, the duration of the compensation cannot be less than 6 months.

NEW RULES IN 2024

The mechanism, which will be introduced by decree, will only concern new Unédic members from 1 February 2023 and until 31 December 2023, as defined in a law adopted last week in Parliament.

This should give the social partners time to negotiate a new deal for Unédic. But the government has already said that this principle of taking into account the economic situation should be preserved.

The government estimates that the reform will allow 100,000 to 150,000 jobseekers to return to the labor market in 2023 and generate four billion euros in savings a year.

This project has sparked a wave of protest from the trade unions, who denounce an economic reform that risks leading to the precariousness of already fragile populations, especially the elderly, who find it more difficult to find a job. The duration of the compensation will be reduced by 9 months for those over 55 years of age.

“What portends are between 3.5 and 4 billion in savings on the shoulders of the most precarious, of those who have no work in this country. It is a scandal,” said the negotiator of the Force Ouvrière, Michel Beaugas, after the match.

“It’s a trap for precariousness. Those looking for work at the end of their rights will have to eat. They will take small jobs to survive and they will sink into it,” CFTC negotiator Eric Courportin said on his behalf.

The CGT speaks of an “unacceptable” reform that “rolls out the carpet for employers”. For the CFE-GCG, the executives it represents are increasingly questioning the usefulness of continuing to contribute to a regime that is increasingly less favorable to them. They had already experienced a degression of their benefits in a previous reform.

Employers’ organisations, for their part, welcomed the “legibility” of the mechanism. For the CPME there are “safeguards” with in particular the minimum duration of the salary of six months. Hubert Mongon, the negotiator of Medef, for his part evokes a “device that allows us to go in the right direction, towards a return to work”.

When asked about the impact of the reform on the elderly, the employers’ representatives ensure that their situation will be taken into consideration during the pension negotiations currently underway.

(Report Caroline Pailliez, written by Myriam Rivet, edited by Kate Entringer and Sophie Louet)

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