Posted Sep 23, 2022, 12:13 PMUpdated Sep 23, 2022 12:52 PM
Unemployment insurance, season II. After having created new rights for the self-employed and employees who resign to retrain and reformed the conditions of compensation for job seekers so that “no one can earn more from unemployment than by working”, the executive wants to go further so that the unemployment insurance scheme “combines protection and an incentive to return to work”. “Not one or the other, but both,” insists the Minister of Labour, Olivier Dussopt.
The idea is now that the rules of compensation are more modulated according to the economic situation. “When things are going well, we tighten the rules and, when things are going badly, we relax them,” explained the minister.
The kick-off for this new reform was given on September 7, 2022 with the presentation to the Council of Ministers of the bill “on emergency measures relating to the functioning of the labor market with a view to full employment”.
This text paradoxically aims initially to be able to extend the current rules of unemployment insurance until the end of 2023. Decided in 2019 but implemented only in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they come to deadline on November 1 and “have not yet produced their full effects”, according to the executive.
More than the content of this bill, the debate concerns the sequence it sets in motion, because the government has launched a parallel consultation – and not a negotiation – with the social partners on this question ofa modulation of unemployment insurance. “It’s an exchange, it’s a discussion, it’s proposals, counter-proposals (..) and in the end the government takes the decisions it must take” by decree, explained Olivier Dussopt.
The objective is to arrive at criteria – the unemployment rate for example – whose upward or downward evolution could determine the number of months of work required to access compensation or even the duration of this one. The executive, who wants to go quickly, wishes implementation before the end of 2022.
In the longer term, the government intends to open another project on the governance of Unédic, in connection with the reform of the support of the RSA and the creation of France Travail, which must succeed Pôle emploi and better coordinate the actors intervening on employment.
Why modulate unemployment benefits?
The executive believes that the unemployment insurance system “imperfectly fulfills its role”. “When unemployment was above 10%, 55% of job seekers were eligible for compensation, while this share rose to 61% at the end of 2019 with unemployment at 8%”, details the file presenting the bill. . And to continue: “It is the opposite that should be favored: when there are fewer jobs, it is necessary that the rules become more protective and when there are more jobs, they must become more incentive. »
The executive insists that there is urgency in the face of recruitment difficulties and makes this reform one of the conditions for achieving the goal of full employment set by Emmanuel Macron during the presidential campaign (an unemployment rate of around 5% compared to 7.4% currently) in 2027. This reform is called for by employers’ organizations, the CPME deeming it “urgent” because some companies must, for lack of staff, “give up contracts or reduce their activity”.
According to economist and deputy Marc Ferracci (Renaissance), one of the instigators of the 2019 reform, quoted by AFP, “dozens of studies prove that the rules of unemployment insurance, in particular the duration and the thresholds eligibility, have an effect on the level of employment”, especially for the most autonomous unemployed in their search.
False, retort the unions for whom the difficulties of recruitment are primarily linked to training and the attractiveness of the professions (salaries, working conditions, mobility, etc.). In a joint text published on September 11, 13 trade union and student organizations denounce an “inefficient” and “unfair” project. They believe that the executive would do better to work on the “priority issues” of employment and training, integrating the multiple impacts of the ecological transition. They evoke the working conditions, of which the summer heat wave showed how much they can be degraded, or even “support for the transformation of trades to meet environmental challenges”.
What could change:
The executive wishes to modulate the conditions of unemployment insurance according to the situation of the labor market, like what is done for example in Canada – but without copying this model at the regional level. Three parameters can thus potentially change: amount of compensation, eligibility criteria, duration of compensation.
Olivier Dussopt dismissed the reduction in the amount of the monthly allowance, because “there would be a form of contradiction” while “we are in a period of defense of purchasing power”.
” We can act on the maximum duration of compensationwhich today is 24 months, we can act on the conditions to be eligible. Today, you have to have worked 6 months out of the last 24 (..). Will it be 7 or 8 months or will it be 6 months out of 18 instead of 24? he wondered.
It also remains to know what criteria to use to agree that the job market is buoyant or that it is turning around. For this, the unemployment rate measured by INSEE within the meaning of the ILO, is a favorite.
One thing is certain, the changes that the government wants to introduce will have to be simple so that Pôle emploi can quickly update its compensation software.