How unemployment benefits in France are changing in October

Unemployment benefits are changing in France. Here’s what you need to know.
Unemployment benefits are changing in France. Here’s what you need to know. Photo: AFP.
In a bid to save money, the French government is shaking up its system of unemployment benefits payments. We explain how this could affect you from October 1st.

In a press briefing earlier this month, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said that reform to unemployment benefits in France was “absolutely indispensable”.

During the worst of the Covid crisis, changes to the assistance available to job-seekers were temporarily put on hold. But now that the economy is bouncing back, that is all changing.

From October 1st, anyone who signs up to receive payments from Pôle emploi (the state-run unemployment agency) or is seeking to renew payments will be affected.

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Changes to how your payments are calculated 

Up until now, the benefit payments to unemployed people have been calculated by dividing their pre-tax salary earned over the 12 months preceding their last day of paid work, by the number of working days during that period. 

From October 1st, this formula changes. The benefit payments will be calculated by dividing the salary by the total number of both working days AND non-working days during that period. This essentially means that the amount of money sent out in individual payments will decrease significantly.

Receive payments for longer

Under this reform, claimants are eligible to receive benefit payments for a longer period of time. On average, the government says that claimants will be eligible for payments for three extra months – or 14 months in total. 

The minimum period that someone registered with pôle emploi can receive payments for is increasing from 122 days to 182 days. 

READ ALSO: Seven key things to know about French unemployment benefits 

In essence, these benefit changes will work in your favour if you are unemployed for a long time. But they will work against you if you soon find work again because the amount of money you will have received per day of unemployment will be less. 

Tougher requirements on the horizon 

France could implement tougher requirements to those seeking to receive unemployment benefits. If the labour market improves, it is likely that in order to receive payments, claimants must have worked for six months rather than four. 

Jobseekers under the age of 57 with a daily allowance of more than €85.18 would see their payments progressively decrease over the course of their eligibility. After seven months of full-rate payments, these claimants’ allowance would decrease by 30%.


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