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The changes to France's unemployment benefits you need to know about

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The changes to France's unemployment benefits you need to know about
Photo: AFP
17:38 CET+01:00
The French government is getting ready to bring in a raft of new changes to its unemployment benefit system and if you work in France you will be affected. This is what you need to know.
France's Labour Minister Muriel Penicaud has unveiled the changes set to be made to France's unemployment benefit system.
 
The new law is due to be presented to MPs during the first half of April. 
 
Here's what we know so far. 
 
Right to unemployment for workers who resign
 
If the changes go ahead as planned, workers wishing to resign will be able to do so and claim unemployment benefits over a two-year period. 
 
This is currently only the case for people whose contracts are terminated or come to an end and the idea is to give people a helping hand if they want to change careers or start their own business. 
 
"For the first time, we will create a right for those who want to begin a new professional project: for example starting a business or changing careers," said Penicaud in an interview with Le Parisien.
 
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But naturally there are some criteria that need to be met before you qualify for this. 
 
You must have held a position without interruption for five years in the same company which should account for "between 20,000 and 30,000 people a year", the minister said. 
 
The measure could cost €180 million, according to Penicaud's estimates, an amount she says is negligible considering the €33 billion spent on unemployment insurance in total.
 
"Safety net" for self-employed
 
The government also wants to introduce compensation for the self-employed. 
 
That means entrepreneurs, craftsmen, traders or farmers who find themselves in the unfortunate situation of having their business liquidated will, for the first time, enjoy a "safety net". 
 
But it won't cover everyone. 
 
"We will set up a fee of €800 per month for six months," the minister proposes. "It will be aimed at the self-employed who (...) had an annual profit of around €10,000." 
 
Pénicaud described this as "a strong signal that we send to all those who have the courage and the desire to launch [their own business]".
 
Photo: AFP
 
Incentive for companies to limit unstable contracts 
 
The French government will attempt to crack down on companies which are increasingly offering short-term and precarious contracts, such as CDDs (Contrat à Durée Determinée) or a fixed-term contract.
 
Employers will have until the end of 2018 to "moderate" their use of these types of contracts, with Penicaud warning that if they will be subject to penalties "which will be included in the bill" if they don't. 
 
More staff dedicated to managing unemployment benefit claims
 
Penicaud also announced the government's plan to target the "minority who benefits from the system" by not looking for a new job.
 
In order to do this, she said, the  team dedicated solely to controlling job seekers at France's Pôle Emploi (job centre) would be tripled. 
 
With these new agents Pénicaud said she wants to rectify a system that she considers "illogical".
 
"For an unjustified absence from an interview, allowances are suspended for two months," she said. "On the other hand, someone who is not really looking for a job only gets 15 days of suspension," she said. 
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