Unemployment insurance reform: new rules, compensation… The government’s tracks

The government presented the contours of this new law. (©AFP/Ludovic MARIN)

Unemployment insurance, season II: the executive gave Wednesday in the Council of Ministers the kickoff of a new reform aimed at responding to recruitment difficulties by varying the unemployment benefit conditions depending on the situation. An idea categorically rejected by the unions.

Opening the way to the first social reform of the second five-year term, the bill paradoxically initially aims to be able to extend the current unemployment insurance rules. Resulting from an already controversial reform of the first five-year term, they are coming to an end October 31.

Avoid a breach of compensation

It’s about avoiding “a breach of compensation” of about 2.5 million job seekerssaid government spokesman Olivier Véran after the Council of Ministers.

More than the content of the text, which will be discussed at the start of the return to parliament in October, the debate focuses on the sequence it triggers “in the logic of the double temporality of the emergency and the deep reforms” according to Olivier Veran.

“In the very short term”, within “a few weeks”, according to Olivier Véran, the government will seize the social partners of the question of a modulation of unemployment insurance so that it is, in the words of Emmanuel Macron, “stricter when too many jobs are unfilled, more generous when unemployment is high”.

Urgency in the face of recruitment difficulties

This will be done “as part of a consultation” and not a negotiation, said Wednesday on France info Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt, adding that in this case, “it’s an exchange, it’s a discussion, it’s proposals, counter-proposals (..) and in the end the government takes the decisions that he must take” by decree.

The objective is to arrive at criteria – unemployment rate for example -, whose upward or downward evolution could determine the number of months of work required to access the compensation (currently 6 months out of the last 24) or the duration of it.

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The executive insists, like Olivier Dussopt, that there is urgency in the face of recruitment difficulties and makes this reform one of the conditions for achieving the objective of full employment (an unemployment rate of around 5% against 7.4% currently) in 2027.

This reform is demanded by employers’ organizations, the CPME (small and medium-sized enterprises) deeming it “urgent” because some companies must, for lack of personnel, “give up contracts or reduce their activity”.

Union Opposition

According to the economist and Renaissance deputy (ex-LREM) Marc Ferracci, one of the instigators of the 2019 reform, “dozens of studies prove that the rules of unemployment insurance, in particular the duration and the eligibility thresholds, have an effect on the level of employment », in particular for the most autonomous unemployed people in their search.

False, retort the unions for whom the difficulties of recruitment are primarily linked to training and the attractiveness of the professions (salaries, working conditions, mobility, etc.).

Meeting on Monday at the headquarters of the CFDT, the unions agreed on their opposition to negotiating such a “countercyclical” measure and should publish a joint text to this effect next week.

It will focus “on the current problem of employment and recruitment difficulties which will not find an effective response with a reform which further reduces the rights of the unemployed”, specified Marylise Léon (CFDT). “We want to negotiate a new unemployment insurance agreementbut on condition that we are left in control, ”adds Michel Beaugas (FO)

The reality is that the executive gives guarantees to the Medef, which therefore has no interest in negotiating with the unions.

Francois HommerilCFE-CGC
Marylise Léon in Paris on January 22, 2015.
Marylise Léon in Paris on January 22, 2015. (©AFP/Archives/DOMINIQUE FAGET)

” Before the end of the year “

In fact, the president of Medef, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, has already judged that “opening negotiations will be useless since it will not succeed for lack of a diagnosis shared with the unions”.

By choosing consultation, the government, which wants to move quickly, seems to have acted on this lack of appetite on the part of the social partners to negotiate. He would like it to be implemented “before the end of the year” according to Olivier Dussopt.

In the longer term, the government intends to open another project on the governance of Unédicthe joint unemployment insurance scheme, in connection with the reform of RSA support and the creation of France Travail, which is to succeed Pôle emploi and better coordinate the players involved in employment.

Source: © 2022 AFP

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