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Unemployment Benefits Slammed by French Auditors

Tuesday 05 March 2013

The system of unemployment benefits in France is expensive, unequal and inefficient, says the French National Audit Office.

Not for the first time the French Cour de Comptes has shone a piercing light on an aspect of the French social and economic system that is otherwise rarely discussed or revealed in France.

Under the spotlight on this occasion is the unemployment benefits system, which the auditors consider is unsustainable and in need of fundamental reform.

Top of the list of reforms the auditors consider is the need to change the proportional basis on which unemployment is paid, as it is very costly and unfair to those on low incomes.

The level of unemployment benefit in France is based on the previous salary, not a flat rate sum.

Although there is a maximum sum that can be granted, the ceiling is set very high, at €6,129 a month, albeit you would need to have been earning at least €12,124 a month to be entitled to such a sum.

So the auditors state that the system does "couvre les salariés les plus précaires, mais réserve aussi le plus haut niveau de protection aux salariés les mieux insérés dans l'emploi"

They also consider that the high level of benefit granted to those on the highest incomes is not warranted by the level of security of employment normally afforded to this income group.

For someone earning an average salary the level of benefit would be around 66% of the previous salary, the highest percentage level of benefit in Europe.

According to the authors it compares with unemployment benefit of 38% of average salary in the United Kingdom, the lowest in Europe.

Indeed, the comparative analysis of the report reveals the United Kingdom having the least generous system of unemployment benefit in Europe.

Salary/Unemployment Benefit
Level of Salary
France
Germany
Denmark
Spain
Italy
United Kingdom
50% of Average
78.7%
67,1%
91.3%
74.1%
73.1%
68.9%
100% of Average
66.4%
62.3%
60.6%
59.6%
58.2%
37.9%
150% of Average
69,1%
61.9%
44.5%
40.9%
42.8%
26.4%
200% of Average
68.3%
59.6%
35.3%
31.9%
33.9%
20.7%

Not only is the level of benefit highest for those on highest salaries, but the contribution record needed to obtain access to unemployment benefit is the lowest in Europe, and the duration of the benefit amongst the highest.

In order to be eligible, for those under 50 you need to have been employed for at least four months (which need not be continuous) in the past 28 months. If you are over 50 then the equation is a minimum of 3 months in the past three years.

In the former case of those under 50 your period of entitlement is a maximum of two years, whilst for those 50+ the period of entitlement is three years, in both cases up to the duration of your employment.

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