Three things to know about “active job search” and the suspension of unemployment benefits

“Job seekers who do not demonstrate an active job search will have their benefits suspended.” This is what Emmanuel Macron recalled during his televised address on Tuesday, November 9, without specifying whether the criteria of this “active search” were going to be modified or toughened. The Minister of Labor, Elisabeth Borne, in any case announced Wednesday morning on RTL that the Pôle Emploi advisers were going to carry out additional checks.

Guest of the morning of franceinfo, the spokesperson of the government, Gabriel Attal, clarified that it was about “25% more checks in the next six months, especially in sectors in tension where there are many unfilled jobs, where business leaders have difficulty in recruiting.” The following are particularly targeted: catering and construction. But what is an “active search” for work? And how does Pôle emploi carry out checks? Franceinfo takes stock.

Dedicated advisers to carry out checks

To check whether the job seeker is indeed in “active search”, an employment center agent examines his direct actions: the search for job offers, the responses to these offers or spontaneous applications. It also studies indirect actions or prior to direct research (participation in an employment forum, training courses, etc.), actions intended to create, take over or develop a business or the frequency of contacts between the job seeker. employment and its advisor.

After analyzing the file, if the controller considers that there is a breach, he sends a questionnaire to the job seeker by post. Then he conducts a telephone interview and, as a last resort, a physical interview. Finally, if the controller does not validate the job search, he can decide to send the job seeker a warning letter before delisting (delisting from the list of compensated job seekers suspends benefits and rights are deferred). The job seeker then has 15 days to challenge the decision.

A control can only be carried out by agents who are dedicated to this task. Since 2015, the advisers responsible for supporting job seekers in their search have not monitored their actions. However, they can report cases to the 600 controllers who work on a specific platform. In 2017, the checks initiated following a report only led to delisting in one out of two cases, Pôle emploi noted that year.

Controls on the rise since 2017

The government spokesman said Wednesday morning on franceinfo that the controls have “almost tripled since 2017”. “Out of 100 checks carried out today, there are on average 14 people to whom the agents send a message, a warning, or to whom we have to suspend the benefits for a certain time, from one to four months”, up to “what they testify to an active job search”, explained Gabriel Attal. In 2019, 400,000 checks were carried out by Pôle emploi, at a rate of 200,000 per semester, the general management of the public establishment told franceinfo. Out of these 400,000 checks, 51% of job seekers were indeed actively seeking, 22% needed to be re-mobilized and to be accompanied by an adviser. And 15% were sanctioned (cancellation and withdrawal of allowances).

With the 25% increase in checks announced by the government, this means that the target is now set at 250,000 checks in the next six months. “We will therefore change the control procedure, we will simplify it to make it more efficient with constant numbers of staff”, specifies the management of the public body, whose workforce has increased for a little over a year. Some 2,800 full-time positions, on CDD or CDI, to cope, at the time, with the sharp increase in the number of job seekers during the crisis linked to the Covid-19 pandemic and to support young people, had specified the Minister of Labor at the end of August 2020.

Pôle emploi unions demand a clearer roadmap

The declaration of the Head of State is struggling to get through to the Pôle Emploi unions. “It is not the coercive and repressive logic that must be at work”, estimates Guillaume Bourdic, of the CGT Pôle emploi, who sees in the words of Emmanuel Macron a desire to statistically lower the unemployment figures. According to him, more resources are needed “to better support job seekers, even if it means that the means for job search checks are redirected towards supporting users.”

“We know that Emmanuel Macron is in his role, but we, advisers and managers, we need a very clear roadmap. We want the presidential instructions to be transformed into a roadmap “, abounds Laurent Mérique, general secretary of the national union of the personnel of Pôle emploi (Snap).

The staff feel torn apart, with the millefeuille of missions that we have to accomplish “, he emphasizes. Laurent Mérique recalls that, in the coming months, increased monitoring of the unemployed will be added to other projects initiated in recent months, in particular the monitoring of young people with the youth employment contract or the application of the latest provisions of the unemployment insurance reform, which will come into force on December 1.

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