Will the social partners stay in the passenger seat or take the wheel? While the government presented, Monday, November 21, a new reform of unemployment insurance, the unions are wondering about the margins of maneuver – more and more limited – that they hold, with the employers, within these measures. They fear being relegated to a subordinate position, facing the State which has become almost omnipotent.
In ordinary times, employers’ and employees’ organizations set the parameters for compensation for the unemployed, within the framework of agreements concluded after negotiations between them. They are also responsible for administering the system, through an association: Unédic. This is called “joint management”. The executive has, of course, always occupied a place as important as it is discreet: for the conventions to apply, the Ministry of Labor must give its approval, which allows it to“control the content and if necessary play the balance of power”, decrypts Jean-Pascal Higelé, sociologist at the University of Lorraine. In addition, the public authorities provide their financial guarantee to Unédic when the latter borrows money to make up for deficits.
But the state has increased its influence in recent years. In 2019, it tightened the conditions for access to the scheme while modifying the rules for calculating the allowance, resulting in a reduction in the monthly amount paid to certain unemployed people. In addition, a law enacted in September 2018 requires social partners to follow a framework letter when discussing the content of an agreement.
“We are moving from parity to tripartism”
The reform unveiled Monday by Olivier Dussopt, the Minister of Labor, extends this fundamental movement. Fulfilling a campaign promise by Emmanuel Macron, it will in particular have the effect of reducing by 25% the duration of compensation for job seekers whose employment contract ended from 1er February 2023. Mr. Dussopt specified that he would soon contact the organizations of employers and employees, so that they negotiate on the ” governance “ unemployment insurance: “This will be an opportunity to re-examine the place of joint action, the place of the State, the place of Parliament [dans le système] »he said.
The Minister also indicated that the trade unions and employers will open negotiations at the end of 2023 on the terms of compensation: they “wish to regain their prerogatives, which we share”, he added. But the protagonists will have to comply with the principle of modulation, now enshrined in law, which varies the duration of payment of the allowance according to the economic situation. Mr. Dussopt even mentioned scenarios with even stricter parameters in the event that the unemployment rate would drop to “4.5% or 5%” (against 7.3% today).
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