Unemployment: compensation rules tighten from February 1

It is less talked about than that of pensions, but its consequences are just as significant for the people concerned. The reform of unemployment insurance comes into force on Wednesday: now, all jobseekers who open rights see the duration of their compensation reduced by 25%, with a minimum of six months. An unemployed person who could have received his allowances for twenty-four months until now is only entitled to a maximum of eighteen months. For those over 55, this period increases from thirty-six to twenty-seven months. In any case, the amount of the allowance does not change.

As provided for by the “labour market” law and the decree published at the end of last week in the Official Journal, the duration of compensation for job seekers is now adjusted according to the economic situation. When it is favorable — a “green” period characterized by an unemployment rate of less than 9%, or which does not increase by more than 0.8 points over a quarter — the duration is reduced by a quarter. This is currently the case, with an unemployment rate of 7.3% according to INSEE.

In the event of a transition to a “red” period, if the labor market deteriorates (unemployment rate above 9% or increasing by more than 0.8 points over a quarter), the initial duration of compensation is restored, but only for the unemployed at the end of their rights.

Big savings for public finances

This reform, which does not apply overseas, puts to music the campaign promise of President Emmanuel Macron, who wants unemployment insurance to be “more generous when unemployment is high, stricter when too many jobs are unfilled”, to enable companies to solve their number one problem: recruitment difficulties. For the Minister of Labour, Olivier Dussopt, the objective is to allow “between 100,000 and 150,000 additional returns to employment throughout the year 2023”.

After arousing the wrath of the unions during the discussions this fall, this new regime continues to be debated. Éric Heyer, economist at the OFCE (the French Observatory of Economic Conditions), calls into question the effectiveness of his general philosophy: “Does the fact of reducing rights allow the unemployed to quickly find a job? Academic studies tend to show that if this is the case, it is generally in a degraded job, which a less qualified unemployed person would have accepted. This does not contribute to reducing unemployment. The only positive side is that it costs less to public finances,” he argues, pleading for “active spending on training job seekers”.

Temporary workers asked to accept a CDI

Stéphane Carcillo, associate professor at Sciences-po and member of the Circle of economists, on the contrary defends a “very effective” measure in his eyes. “Studies show that job seekers are very sensitive to the duration of compensation, more than to its amount. It makes sense to focus on getting back to work when the economy is doing well, and protecting income when it is going badly. »

These new rules apply until December 31. But when they return to the negotiating table in the second half of the year to discuss future rules, the social partners will have to integrate this notion of the evolution of the economic situation, the government has already insisted.

The reform also provides that allowances will now be abolished in the event of job abandonment and for employees on short-term contracts (CDD, interim) who refuse a CDI twice in the space of one year, on the same job, the same place of work and with a salary at least equivalent.

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