Parents in France could lose right to crisis unemployment scheme from June

Parents in France could lose right to crisis unemployment scheme from June
Photo: AFP
From June 1st, parents who choose to stay home with their children when schools reopen could lose access to the country's unemployment scheme set up to prevent mass lay-offs during the coronavirus lockdown.

This represents a big change in the current rule that saw parents who wish to stay home to take care of their children automatically qualify for partial unemployment as of May 1st.

“The system of partially working to take cafe of children will be maintained like in May, but from June 1st a certificate from the school will be required,” said French Labour Minister Muriel Pénicaud on Wednesday in an interview with France Inter.

“It is important that children can return to school,” she said.

Primary schools, pre-school and creches are set to gradually reopen in France from May 11th, but with classes restricted to 15 and some local mayors vowing not to reopen schools, not all children may be able to return.

UPDATE: How France's plan to reopen schools has changed

 

Parents who decide to keep their children at home will not be sanctioned.

However, from June 1st, employees will need to provide their employer with a certificate from their child's school stating that the establishment is not capable of receiving the child.

France's partial unemployment scheme – chômage partiel – has been massively expanded since the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic. Over 11 million employees are currently benefiting from the scheme in France.

It has been crucial in keeping businesses from laying off employees en masse after the nationwide strict lockdown on March 17th halted most of the country's economic activity.

Chômage partiel: What you need to know about France's crisis unemployment scheme

But, as France plans to begin to lift the lockdown rules on May 11th, the rules for receiving chômage partiel are set to be tightened.

Gradually reopening schools will be key in order to ensure that the French economy can begin to retake, the French government has said several times.

While parents will not be required to send their children back to school and can choose to homeschool the child if they prefer, but the change in the partial unemployment scheme could have many finding themselves without a real choice of keeping their children at home.

The French government has said it wants people to go back to work as France begins the second phase of the lifting of its lockdown measures on June 2nd.

“We have to go back to work,” said Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire on Wednesday.

France's gross domestic product contracted 5.8 percent in the first quarter, largely because of the coronavirus lockdown, the national statistics agency said Thursday.

The drop was the biggest since quarterly GDP evaluations began in 1949.


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