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, and 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 2021). 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.
To qualify for unemployment benefits (Return to employment benefit /”ARE” ), the claimant must meet the following 7 requirements:
* Due to the Covid-19-related public health crisis, the required 88 days or 610 hours of work can now have been accrued over a period that has been extended by the number of days occurring between March 1st and May 31, 2020, and between October 30, 2020 and June 30, 2021.
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.
An additional withholding amounting to 3% of the claimant's benchmark daily wage (“SJR”) will be deducted from the gross amount of the daily award. This withholding, which finances supplementary pensions for unemployment insurance claimants, cannot bring a claimant's daily benefit award down below 29.56 €.
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 benchmark daily wage (SJR). Since October 1st, 2021, the benchmark wage has been based on gross earnings subject to contributions during the 24 months (36 months for people aged 53 and over) prior to the end of the employment contract. 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. Unemployment benefits will be calculated according to a new method from April 1st, 2021.
SJR = Total pay / Total number of calendar days (worked and unworked) during the reference period
**The days not worked taken into account are capped at 75% of the number of days worked.
The daily ARE rate is equal to the highest of the following amounts:
This amount cannot be below €29.56 (amount valid from July 1st, 2021) or exceed 75% of the SJR.
Effective July 1st, 2019, jobseekers under the age of 57 with an unemployment benefit award of more than 85.18 € per day (based on a prior gross monthly wage of at least 4,500 €) draw 30% less from the 9th month of payment. However, benefits cannot be reduced to less than 85.18 € per day.
Due to the ongoing public health crisis, rate reductions based on past earnings were suspended from March 1st, 2020 through June 30, 2021. As a result, this rate reduction will only apply to affected claimants from July 1st, 2021.
Payment begins on the day following the waiting period and any deferred compensation period(s).
Since October 1st, 2021, the compensation period has corresponded to the reference period taken into account in calculating the SJR, being the number of calendar days between the first day of the first contract and the last day of the last contract identified in the past 24 months, or the past 36 months for people aged 53 and over.
In all cases, the compensation period may not exceed:
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.: Effective August 1st, 2020, a minimum period of employment of 4 months or 610 hours is required to requalify for unemployment benefits.
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.
|Employment termination date||Minimum period of employment in order to requalify for entitlements|
|Prior to November 1st, 2019||150 hours (1 month)|
|Between November 1st, 2019 and July 31, 2020||910 hours (6 months)|
|From August 1st, 2020||610 hours (4 months)|
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 benchmark daily wage (“salaire journalier de reference”/ SJR).
More information is available on the UNEDIC website.