The government wants to save its unemployment insurance reform

Voted in July 2019 and already postponed three times, the last time at 1er April 2021, the unemployment insurance reform should see the light of day before the summer. The Minister of Labor, Élisabeth Borne, in fact receives the social partners on Tuesday March 2 to present their latest arbitrations.

While the pension reform seems silted up before the presidential election, there is no question for the government to reverse it, translation of one of the campaign promises of candidate Macron. “We must go to the end of this reform”, keeps hammering Élisabeth Borne. A sign of her desire to move forward quickly, the minister must present to the social partners a draft decree that will be promulgated by the end of the month for the reform to come into effect before the summer, time for Pôle emploi to update its systems.

Despite the opposition of the unions, who again recalled last week in a rare joint statement their “Profound disagreement with the founding principle of this reform according to which the reduction in unemployment benefits would encourage a more rapid return to employment”,Élisabeth Borne shows her desire for dialogue, ensuring that she has taken into account the criticisms in order to adapt the ” settings “ reform, but without abandoning its spirit.

As a sign of this taking into account of the pandemic context, two flagship measures of the reform should see their implementation conditional on a “Return to good fortune”. This “return to good fortune” will itself be defined thanks to a clever calculation taking into account the “Labor market dynamics” (depending on the number of promises to hire) and the“Extent of unemployment” (number of job seekers and proportion of leavers).

First of these postponements: eligibility for unemployment insurance. It is currently necessary to have worked four months during the last twenty-eight months to be compensated: in the new system, it will be necessary to have worked six months during the last twenty-four months.

Also postponement of the degression of allowances for salaries of more than 4,500 € gross per month. A measure which, according to the unions, would encourage “To accept less qualified jobs in contrast to the objective of a general increase in qualifications”.

The new calculation of the daily reference wage (SJR), which is used to determine the allowances, should however enter into force immediately. According to a note from Unédic published last November, 850,000 unemployed people should see their allowance fall by an average of 22% with this new SJR. Hence the outcry of the unions, even if the government explains wanting to set up a floor to avoid too low allowances and that this should allow to touch a lower allowance, but for longer.

As for the bonus-malus on contributions affecting employers who resort too much to short contracts, the government, supported this time by the unions, is faced with the refusal of the employers who are contesting the implementation of this measure in times of crisis.

Refusing to apply a reform which would then give the impression of affecting only the rights of the unemployed, the government is therefore keen to immediately maintain taxation of short contracts, even if the bonus-malus, which was to apply to seven sectors particularly greedy in this area, could be postponed to the summer of 2022 …

“Our economy uses short contracts much more than other countries”, we explain to the Ministry of Labor, stressing Elisabeth Borne’s desire to work with professional branches to tackle the causes of this excessive use.

It remains to be seen when the famous “Return to good fortune”. “The government is betting on a recovery in the spring, it is very risky”, deplored Sunday February 28 Marylise Léon, deputy secretary general of the CFDT, in The Sunday Journal. In its forecasts presented Wednesday evening February 24 (read opposite), Unédic was counting on another 230,000 jobs destroyed in 2021, not anticipating a return to the situation of January 2020 before the end of 2022.

However, in its equation – and as the Council of State has just recalled – the government must also take into account the budgetary balance that it had demanded in its framework letter to the social partners. They had failed to come to an agreement, their failure triggering the reform that the government must implement.


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