France has set a target of “full employment” by 2027, a goal that remains “attainable”, according to Labour Minister Olivier Dussopt, despite economic forecasts predicting low growth in the years to come.
The backbone of the government’s efforts to achieve its ambitious target was reform of unemployment laws, including changes to payments (chômage) made to those who are out of work.
The bill, adopted despite opposition from both far-left and far-right parties, includes a number of important changes.
Job market situation
The primary reform will be linking unemployment benefits to the state of the job market, which would be moderated by government decree.
As of November 18th, lawmakers had not yet specified the framework for this change. In previous statements, the Labour Minister had assured the public that the government “would not touch the amount of compensation” and that conditions to qualify for unemployment benefits would not be modified.
However, the government has referenced plans to change the “maximum duration of compensation” based on the status of the labour market. The period currently ranges from 24 to 36 months depending on the age of the job seeker.
Consultation with unions and businesses to define this framework remained underway on Friday. The details of this reform’s implementation are to be announced on Monday, with the system set to enter into force in early 2023.
In a change from current rules, any employee dismissed for long-term unjustified absence from work will be considered to have resigned their post and will not be entitled to immediate unemployment benefits.
“[An] employee who has voluntarily abandoned his or her position and does not return to work after being given formal notice (…) is presumed to have resigned,” an article in the bill reads.
An employee who contests his employer’s decision is encouraged to take the matter to the labour courts, which will have to “rule on the merits within one month”.
Any employee on a fixed-term contract – or a contrat à durée déterminée (CDD) – who is twice offered a permanent contract – or a contrat à durée indéterminée (CDI) – for the same job, at the same location and on the same pay can be refused unemployment payments when their contract ends.
“In the event of the employee’s refusal, the employer shall inform Pôle emploi, justifying the similarity of the job offered,” the bill states.
On the flipside, companies that overuse of short-term contracts (CDD’s) will continue having to pay additional contributions to the unemployment insurance pot as part of the government’s incentive based bonus-malus system.
Proof of experience
One of the less discussed provisions of the bill is the development of the Validation des Acquis de l’Expérience (VAE) service to validate prior experience in the workplace – which will be in charge of organising certifications based on professional and personal experience. This may be especially useful for those with overseas experience not currently recognised.
A digital platform will be made available for anyone wishing to benefit.