Unemployment Benefits in France

  1. Registration with Pôle emploi
  2. Export of Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
  3. Business Start-Up Support
  4. Rules on Unemployment Benefit

4. Rules on Unemployment Benefit

Unemployment benefit in France is called l’allocation d’aide au retour à l’emploi (ARE), or less officially, allocation chômage.

I. Conditions of Entitlement

Only salaried persons pay a compulsory social security contribution granting an entitlement to unemployment benefit.

The rate of this contribution for the employee is 2.4%. Those over 65 of years of age but retaining employment also pay this contribution.

Accordingly, business owners are not eligible for unemployment benefit, although it is possible to take out private (expensive) insurance.

If you lose your job you do not automatically have a right to unemployment benefit.

You will need to meet certain conditions. Those conditions are that:

  • You did not leave your job voluntarily;
  • You have worked for at least four months;
  • Be registered as a job seeker with Pôle emploi;
  • Be physically capable of work;
  • Be actively searching for work;
  • Not be in receipt of a full State retirement pension.

There are situations where those who have resigned can still retain a right to unemployment benefit. They are:

  • Spouse gets a job in another region of the country;
  • Marriage or civil partnership, in which the new couple change their place of residence, which must take place within two months of each other;
  • Having lost a job, another job immediately found, from which the person resigns within 91 days;
  • Resigns from one job to take another, which employer ends within 91 days (provided three years paying unemployment contributions)
  • Other unspecified legitimate reason.

Those whose contract is terminated or naturally comes to an end, and who receive a lump sum severance payment, must wait 6 months before they can be entitled to unemployment benefit. A rule that concerns primarily senior managers.

II. Duration of Benefits

The right to unemployment benefit is based the amount of time you have paid unemployment contributions.

The following table shows the minimal period of contributions, and the maximum period of cover. The actual level of cover will otherwise be the period of employment during which you paid unemployment contributions.

It is also possible to 'roll-over' unused entitlement if you obtain employment prior to using current entitlement, but then subsequently find yourself unemployed. It is called droits rechargeables.

Age Minimum Contribution Period Maximum Duration of Benefits
Under 50 Year 4 months during the last 28 months 24 months
50+ Years 4 months during the last 36 months 36 months

III. Level of Benefit

The level of unemployment benefit you receive is calculated with reference to your previous salary.

Broadly speaking, your benefit entitlement is a percentage of a reference daily rate, called salaire journalier de référence (SJR). The SJR is calculated from your previous salary.

Thus, if you earned €20,000 in the previous 12 months, then the SJR would be €20,000/365 days = €55 per day.

You would then be entitled to either 40.4% SJR + €11.64 per day (July 2014-July 2015), or 57.4% SJR (57% SJR for those whose gross salary is above €2,042), whichever was produced the larger amount.

The minimum amount payable is €28.38 per day (July 2014-July 2015), and the maximum amount cannot be greater than 75% SJR. This minimum amount is reduced to €20.34 if you are on a traning course presecribed by Pôle emploi.

If the monthly salary was less than €1,090, then you are entitled to unemployment benefit equal to 75% of your previous gross salary.

Those who become unemployed as a result of redundancy are entitled to enhanced benefits, and there are also particular rules for seasonal workers and those in the entertainment industry.

In addition, an unemployed person who takes part-time work or a contract of short duration can continue to be entitled to receive some of their benefit.

IV.Other Benefits

In the event that your unemployment benefit does not reach a minimum level, then it is possible to obtain entitlement to other benefits, such as Revenu de Solidarité Active (RSA), as well as housing benefits.

There is also entitlement to free health cover through the Couverture Maladie Universelle (CMU).

V. Reduced Hours

In certain circumstances, where your employer reduces your hours of work due to financial difficulties or a downturn in the market or other eligible reasons, it is possible to obtain a form of unemployment benefit.

This benefit is payable under circumstances called chômage partiel.

Where the reduced employment is likely to be longer than three months, the employer can apply for assistance under the scheme of activité partielle de longue durée (APLD).

It is for the employer to take the steps to securing this assistance, which comes in the form of a supplement to the pay packet.

VI. Social Security Contributions

Unemployment benefits do not entirely escape liability to social security contributions – cotisations sociales.

The social charges CSG and CRDS are payable by those who receive at less €1,971 gross a month in allocation d’assurance-chômage. The rate of CSG it is 6.2% on 97% of the benefit, or 3.8% for those whose taxable income did not pass €9,876 for a single person, increased by €2,637 for each addition half-part. The rate of CRDS is 0.5% on the gross level of the benefit.

There is complete exemption from these charge where the cotisations sociales in total or in part reduce the net level of l’allocation d’aide au retour à l’emploi to less than €48 a day.

Nevertheless, a social charge of 3% of the SJR is levied to finance the complementary retirement pension, except where it would reduce the benefit to below €28,21 per day.

No health contributions are payable, except in Alsace-Moselle, where they are levied at the rate of 1.6%, except for those below the above income thresholds.

VII. Payment of Unemployment Benefit

Unemployment benefit is not offered immediately at the end of an employment contract.

There are two different points of departure.

First, there is a delay of seven days except for those who become unemployed again within twelve months of first becoming unemployed.

There are also delays in the receipt of unemployment related to the payment by the employer for paid leave not taken before departure, as well as a delay due to any compensation package that might have been received at the end of the contract.

Once payment starts it is then paid every month.

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