French unions fume over unemployment insurance duration cuts

French unions fume over unemployment insurance duration cuts |

People temporarily out of work face having the length during which unemployment insurance compensation applies slashed by 25% from February next year, Labour Minister Olivier Dussopt said on Monday, angering French unions and the political left.

At a press conference in Paris on Monday, Dussopt presented the new rules that will apply to unemployment insurance in 2023 after the final adoption of the law for full employment on 17 November.

The maximum duration of compensation will be reduced by 25% compared to the current system. For instance, a worker who has the right to receive 24 months of compensation will only receive 18 months.

The French system will remain “one of the most generous in Europe”, said the minister. This applies to the length of time worked that entitles one to compensation, as well as to the terms of the compensation in relation to the length of time contributed.

Also, the reform is needed as 60% of French companies are experiencing difficulties in recruiting and a third of them are unable to meet their order books due to labour shortages, the minister explained.

He added that the new unemployment insurance compensation rules are thus intended to take account of the economic situation and the state of the labour market. The aim is to obtain “100,000 to 150,000 returns to employment” in 2023.

However, protection mechanisms are foreseen: if the economic situation deteriorates at the end of the compensation, the jobseeker will be entitled to an “end-of-rights complement”, extending the compensation duration.

The new system will not apply to the overseas departments nor to “seamen, fishermen, dockers, entertainment workers [nor to] expatriates”.

In the event of a situation deemed “unfavourable” for the labour market and the economy in general, the 25% reduction in the duration of compensation will be suspended, and the latter will revert to its current course.

The economic context will be unfavourable if unemployment exceeds 9% or increases by more than 0.8 percentage points in one quarter. Today, unemployment in France is around 7.3%.

The employee unions and left-wing politicians expressed their concern – even anger – at the new rules laid down by the minister.

The CFDT, for example, although considered a reformist union, is concerned that “modulating unemployment insurance according to the economic situation is not a solution for achieving full employment”.

According to the union, the government should rather tackle the “skills gap” and the “working conditions offered” by French companies.

Worried about the labour shortage in certain sectors of the economy, the various employers’ unions said they were satisfied with the minister’s announcements, although, according to Michel Picon, vice-president of the Union of Local Enterprises, quoted by Le Monde, “the reform only provides a partial response to recruitment problems”.

(Davide Basso |


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