The dispute over unemployment insurance reform is definitely closed. In a decision issued on Wednesday, December 15, the Council of State, unsurprisingly, rejected all the actions of the trade unions against the merits of the unemployment insurance reform, and in particular its flagship measure, namely the new method of calculating the reference daily wage (SJR) *, which determines the level of unemployment benefits. During the examination of these appeals to the Council of State on 15 November, the public rapporteur, Marie Sirinelli, had already set the tone, stating “that none of the criticisms leveled against the naked SJR are that in the light of a sufficiently salient element to justify a cancellation “.
The judges have therefore just followed the opinion of the public rapporteur, in their decision published this Wednesday. According to them, the trade unions “are not justified in arguing that the provisions relating to the methods of calculating the reference daily wage […] “Furthermore,” the difference in treatment between employees, depending on the period of employment, continuous or discontinuous during the reference period, is not manifestly disproportionate “, according to the Conseil d’État. The body responds here directly to an impact study by Unédic, used as an argument by the unions, according to which jobseekers affected by the reform (ie those who alternate between short-term contracts and periods of inactivity , what the Council of State calls a “discontinuous” period of employment) would see their allowance drop by an average of 17% compared to the system in force before October 1.
In fact, this decision of the Council of State does not change anything, since the entire reform of unemployment insurance is already in force. On October 1, in fact, the government implemented the new method of calculating the SJR, and therefore unemployment benefits. Then, on December 1, the conditions for opening a new right to unemployment and the rules of degressivity of allowances for the highest incomes (more than 4,500 euros gross per month) were tightened. You must have worked six months out of the last twenty-four (not four) to be compensated. As for the degressivity, it applies from the seventh month of compensation since December 1, against the ninth month before.
This is not the first time that the new formula for calculating unemployment benefits has been at the heart of the debates in the Council of State. In November 2020, the body had already censored the first version of the reform of the method of calculating unemployment benefits, believing that it would lead to a “break in equality”. Following this decision, the government had to revise its copy on the merits. To limit the breakage, he has planned to set a floor level for the reference daily wage, below which he will not be able to go down. Concretely, the decline in the SJR should now be limited to 43% compared to the old calculation method.
Le Conseil d’État was then in a new seizure for the unions, but only to change the timetable for implementing the measure. Supposed to come into force on July 1, it was suspended last June by the Council of State, due to an economic context deemed too uncertain. The government has announced that it must abandon the reform timetable and need a new way of calculating unemployment benefits on 1 October. It is therefore the new version of the method of calculating unemployment benefits that was challenged before the Council of State, and which has just been definitively validated by the latter. “There will still be a substantive hearing on the date of entry (into force of this measure, October 1, ed.), However, Antoine Lyon-Caen, the CGT’s lawyer, told AFP. But it will be purely formal. “
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* The amount of unemployment benefits is determined by the reference daily wage (SJR). Previously, the latter was calculated only from the days worked by the jobseeker. But since the reform came into force on October 1, the SJR has been calculated on the basis of the average monthly income received by the jobseeker over a period of 24 months (or even 36 for those over 53). This method of calculation is therefore less favorable for applications for employment, after which periods of inactivity will be taken into account in the calculation of the allowance. This greatly reduces the SJR, and therefore the amount of unemployment benefits. However, a floor level has been set, which consists of limiting the baisse du SJR to a maximum of 43% compared to the old calculation method.
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