French government plans to restrict access to unemployment benefits

The French government is planning to shorten the period people can claim unemployment benefits in order to strengthen incentives to work, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said in an interview published on Sunday.

Unemployment benefits will be limited to a maximum of 15 months, down from the current 18 months, Attal told La Tribune Dimanche.

The government also plans to require someone to have worked eight months during the last 20 months, instead of six months during the last 24 months as is currently the case, to qualify for unemployment benefits.

"If we do not reform unemployment insurance, we risk stalling on the road to full employment," he said. "This reform will allow us to create ever more jobs in our country."

A 2023 reform allowed for the length of benefits to vary depending on labour market conditions, the idea being that it should be shorter if jobs are readily available.

But the government, which struggles to keep its deficit reduction plans on track, considers this did not go far enough.

According to the Labour ministry, the reform is expected to save €3.6 billion and put 90,000 people back into work.

But Denis Gravouil from the hardline CGT trade union slammed the reform as an "anti-youth measure".

(with Reuters)

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