Unemployment insurance: what you need to know about the bill before the examination in session in the Senate

Unemployment insurance is on the Senate’s agenda this week. After its adoption at first reading in the National Assembly on October 12, the bill “on emergency measures relating to the functioning of the labor market with a view to full employment” will be debated in session from this Tuesday 25 october.

Through this text, the government wants to extend the rules resulting from the 2018 reform and be able to temporarily set new rules for unemployment benefits by decree, with the aim of achieving full employment at the end of the five-year term, i.e. 5 % unemployment rate in 2027, compared to 7.4% currently. To achieve this, he wants to introduce a system of modulation of unemployment insurance rules according to the state of the labor market. A month-long consultation with the social partners began in mid-October. During the examination in the Committee on Social Affairs, the senatorial majority of the right and of the center had a certain number of important modifications adopted.

● The commission reduces the period during which the government can act by decree

The rapporteurs Frédérique Puissat (Les Républicains) and Olivier Henno (Centrist Union) said they were “favorable” to the system of modulation of the rules of unemployment insurance according to the economic situation. The bill, which came out of the commission, introduces a legislative basis for this principle in the Labor Code. In view of the change, this clarification was deemed “necessary”.

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They nevertheless refuse that the government keep control for an “excessive period”, undermining the joint management of the unemployment insurance scheme, the preserve of trade unions and employers’ organisations. The end of the authorization to act by decree has been brought back to August 31, 2023, against December 31, 2023 in the initial text.

With a view to a new consultation on the governance of unemployment insurance, the senators wished to “give back control to the social partners”. Their text repeals the “framework letter” procedure, a constraint which had prevented any agreement between the social partners in 2018, causing the government to regain control. The senators’ text sets the framework for a “guidance letter”, which “does not preempt the conclusion”.

● The repeated refusals of CDI penalized in the text of the Senate Committee

The Social Affairs Committee has above all tightened the terms of unemployment insurance for employees who refuse a “stable job”. A jobseeker who has refused three CDI proposals at the end of CDD during the last twelve months will not be able to claim unemployment insurance.

● The provision on “secure” job abandonment

The provision equating the abandonment of post with a resignation, introduced in the National Assembly by deputies of the presidential majority and LR deputies, has been retained. It was clarified in the Social Affairs Committee, in order to “secure” it.

A formal notice will ask the employee to return to his position or to justify his absence within a time limit set by the employer. This may not be less than a minimum fixed by decree of the Council of State.

● The bonus-malus system affecting companies has been reviewed

The bill also provides for the extension of the “bonus-malus” on unemployment insurance contributions until the summer of 2024. This mechanism, encouraging companies in seven sectors to use contracts in progress less often, does not has only been applied since September. In 2018, the Senate opposed this system, fearing that seasonal activities would be penalized.

The Social Affairs Committee has therefore taken up this bill to “correct the shortcomings”. According to the Senate report, the bonus-malus “does not apply to sectors that have the most recourse to short-term fixed-term contracts, but rather to those who frequently call on temporary workers”. The end of contracts for the provision of temporary workers represent 89% of the end of contracts, compared to 9% for fixed-term contracts.

The senators have chosen to limit the bonus-malus to taking into account the end of fixed-term contracts for a period of less than or equal to one month (excluding replacement of absent employees). The purposes of permanent contracts and the purposes of temporary assignments are therefore excluded. The senators also capped the increase in unemployment insurance contributions.

● Removal of the cap on the duration of missions carried out under an interim permanent contract

Another addition made by the Social Affairs Committee: the maximum duration of thirty-six months, applicable to temporary assignments carried out under an interim permanent contract (contract concluded between an employee and a temporary employment company for the performance of temporary assignments interim), has been deleted. This provision will limit, according to the senators, the turnover of temporary workers and will secure their career.

● Expansion of the possibilities of validation of acquired knowledge

Less publicized, a last aspect of the bill plans to extend the validation of acquired experience to caregivers and family caregivers (French people who regularly take care of a disabled or elderly person or person with a loss of autonomy) , in order to facilitate their access to old age professions. Unfavorable to a purely categorical approach, the senators amended the article by specifying that this validation of acquired knowledge would be open to anyone who justifies an activity directly related to the content of the certification in question.

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