France's unemployment insurance scheme is the product of a negotiated agreement between the two sides of industry (national and multi-industry employers' and employees' organizations).
The government then approves the agreement if it is pursuant to applicable law. This approval makes the agreement officially enforceable.
The Unemployment insurance system applies to metropolitan France, the overseas Departments, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, and Monaco. It does not apply to Mayotte, which has its own system.
The public employment service is organized around two bodies: the bipartite body UNEDIC (National Professional Union for Employment in Industry and Trade), which will continue to perform its task of administering the unemployment insurance scheme and organizing the benefits payment system, and the service for jobseekers ("Pôle emploi").
Pôle emploi brings all employment services under a single body, with a single point of contact for registering, counseling, training, placing and paying benefits to jobseekers.
The unemployment insurance scheme is financed through contributions paid on earnings: subject to the limit of 4 times the monthly social security ceiling (€13,712 in 2020). As from January 1st, 2019, only employers contribute into the employment insurance scheme. Employee's contributions have been ended, except for short-term contract workers in the entertainment industry (“intermittents du spectacle”), salaried workers in Monaco, and some expatriate employees. The State also pays into the employment insurance scheme to substitute for the employee's contribution, which has been eliminated.
Unemployment contributions are paid to the competent collections agency as determined by the workers' local authority: Urssaf in metropolitan France and the general social security fund (CGSS) in France's overseas departments.
The scheme is applicable to all employees of companies in geographical areas covered by the agreement.
The amount and duration of benefit payments depend upon the period during which the claimant has contributed to the scheme and total contributions paid.
To qualify for unemployment benefits (Return to employment benefit or ARE), the claimant must meet the following 7 requirements:
* Due to the extraordinary circumstances related to the Covid-19 epidemic, the base period for insured wages has been extended by 3 months (i.e. increased to 27 months or 39 months, depending on the jobseeker's age). Moreover, minimum length of employment for claimants whose contract ended between August 1st, 2020 and December 31, 2020 has been reduced to 88 days or 610 hours (4 months).
Unemployment benefits can be stopped if claimants fail to meet their obligations by:
Benefits can be stopped for a period of 1 to 4 months, depending on the type of violation. Payments can be permanently stopped if the claimant declares false information.
Unemployment benefits are subject to social security surcharge (CSG) and Social security debt reimbursement contribution (CRDS) withholdings.
The return-to-work allowance ("Aide au retour à l'emploi"/ ARE) guarantees replacement income to eligible employees who have been involuntarily deprived of a job.
“ARE” rates are calculated partly on the basis of a daily reference wage (SJR). The reference wage is based on gross earnings subject to contributions during the 12 calendar months prior to the last day of paid work (calculation reference period/ “PRC”) up to a limit of 4 times the monthly social security ceiling (€13,712). It is calculated as follows:
*The weighting factor of 1.4, or 7/5, is used to convert the number of days worked to calendar days.
SJR = Reference salary/ Number of days worked during the calculation reference period X 1.4*)
The daily ARE rate is equal to the highest of the following amounts:
This amount cannot be below €29.38 or exceed 75% of the SJR.
Due to the Covid-19 epidemic, rate reductions based on past earnings are suspended until 2021.
Effective November 1st, 2019, unemployment benefit awards of more than €84.67 per day (based on a prior gross monthly wage of at least €4,500) are reduced by 30% from the 7th month of payment. However, benefits cannot be reduced to less than €84.67 per day.
Claimants with a prior gross monthly wage above €1,304.88 are liable to a withholding, which comes to 3% of their daily reference wage (SJR), from their gross daily benefit amount. This withholding, which finances supplementary retirement pensions for unemployment insurance claimants, cannot reduce daily benefits to less than €29.38.
Payment begins on the day following the waiting period and any deferred compensation period(s).
The duration of benefit payments is based on the principle of "a day of work equals a day of compensation". The days of work that count toward eligibility are multiplied by 1.4 in order to determine the payment period.
Payment cannot be made for under 122 days or more than:
Length of award is determined by age and length of membership. It is calculated by multiplying the claimant's number of days worked by 1.4.
|Age when the employment contract was terminated||Minimum length of membership||Length of award||Maximum length of award|
|Under 53||At least 130 days worked or 910 hours worked over the previous 24 months||Number of days worked x 1.4||24 months or 730 days|
|53 to under 55||At least 130 days worked or 910 hours worked over the previous 36 months||Number of days worked x 1.4||30 months or 913 days; 36 months or 1095 days if the employee has worked more than 652 days and has completed a training program as part of their personal employment plan (“PPAE”).|
|55 and up||At least 130 days worked or 910 hours worked over the previous 36 months||Number of days worked x 1.4||36 months or 1,095 days|
This program allows a jobseeker who is drawing unemployment benefits to take one or more jobs while accruing new entitlements and postponing the cutoff date for the existing entitlements they have not yet used.
N.B.: If the claimant's most recent employment contract ends after August 1st, 2020, they only need 4 months of employment in order to qualify again.
To accrue new unemployment entitlements, the applicant must have worked at least 910 hours or 130 days (i.e. approximately 6 months) since their last unemployment benefits claim. This can have been through either a single or several periods of employment, whatever the duration and type of contract signed for each job (open-ended, fixed-term, or interim). These jobs must have ended before the applicant's benefit entitlement was exhausted.
If the applicant's last employment contract ended prior to November 1st, 2019, they are required to have worked at least 150 hours (1 month) in order to requalify for entitlements.
Under certain conditions, and as an alternative to roll-over benefits, individuals can choose to receive the benefit to which they are entitled based on their latest period of employment without having to first use up their unused entitlements from a previous period of unemployment. This opportunity can arise when a jobseeker receiving benefits begins a new job that is better paid than the one that entitled him/her to the initial benefits. If the jobseeker uses this ability to choose, s/he permanently gives up any remaining benefits resulting from a previous ARE entitlement in order to draw new entitlements at a higher rate.
For more information, visit the UNEDIC website.
It is possible to receive return-to-work (ARE) benefits at a partial rate on top of earned income, with no consideration for the number of hours worked.
Benefits paid if a salary is being earned at the same time are calculated as follows:
However, this amount is capped: it must not exceed the claimant's daily reference salary (“salaire journalier de reference”/ SJR).
More information is available on the UNEDIC website.