In France, as in Poland, a person who has problems finding a job can apply for unemployment benefit at the Labour Office. However, obtaining the right to the allowance in question is subject to many conditions. In this article, we will indicate these conditions, describe the method of determining the amount of the benefit and the period for which the benefit is granted.

1. Conditions for obtaining unemployment benefit

A person who wants to obtain unemployment benefits in France must fulfil several conditions. The official examines whether they are met in a given case. Failure to meet any of them results in refusal to grant the benefit.

The condition for applying for unemployment benefit:

a) Working a certain period of time

The employee should prove that in the last 24 months he/she worked at least 6 months, i.e. 130 workdays or 910 hours. For persons over 52 years of age, the period from which the working time is examined has been extended to 36 months.

The period of employment also includes days which are usually counted as seniority, e.g. maternity leave.

b) Involuntary loss of job

Unemployment benefit is payable for any involuntary loss of job. The reason for the loss of employment doesn’t matter. Therefore, the allowance is also due in the event of termination of a fixed-term contract and termination of the contract by mutual agreement.

Regardless of the reason for termination of an employment relationship, unemployment benefit isn’t available to civil servants. It also doesn’t apply for self-employed persons and employees who have given notice of termination of their employment contract to the employer. However, there are situations that justify the payment of the allowance despite termination of the employment contract with notice by the worker. They are indicated in Article II of the regulation to the Decree of 26 July 2019 on unemployment insurance.

c) Registration with the office in due time

An unemployed person should register with the Labour Office – Pôle Emploi within 12 months from the date of end of employment.

d) Residence in France

As a general rule, unemployment benefit can be received by persons living in France. However, it’s possible that such an allowance will be paid to a person who has left France. More on this later in the article.

e) Ability to perform work

2. Registration with the Labour Office

A person who wants to obtain unemployment benefit should register with Pôle Emploi. It can be done in several ways:

  • by telephone on number 3949;
  • using the “Mon espace” – Pôle Emploi mobile application (For smartphones with the Android operating system, the app can be downloaded from the Play Store. For smartphones with the iOS operating system, this application is available on the App Store);
  • via the website – in order to register with the Labour Office in this way, a login, password and postal code are necessary. The login and password are valid for 6 months.

3. Meetings in Pôle emploi

After registering with Pôle Emploi, the unemployed person will be invited to an appointment at the Office. The invitation will be sent by e-mail or post. Participation in the meeting is mandatory.

The following documents must be presented at the meeting:

  • a certificate from the employer;
  • the Carte Vitale with the insurance number;
  • an identity document;
  • RIB, i.e. a document with details of the bank account to which the benefit is to be paid.

Each registered person is under an absolute obligation to maintain monthly contact with the Labour Office in order to confirm his/her situation and acquire the right to continue payment of the benefit. The unemployed person can do it by telephone, in writing or via the Internet. This should take place between: 28th day of the current month and 15th day of the following one. No contact within the indicated period results in the suspension of the right to payment of the allowance.

Any significant change in the unemployed person’s situation, such as starting a job, resuming an activity, undergoing training, the birth of a child, illness, moving, etc., must be notified to Pôle emploi within a maximum of 72 hours.

4. Amount of the benefit

From 1 October 2021, new rules for determining the amount of unemployment benefit apply. Currently, the amount of the benefit depends on the amount of earnings received by the unemployed person in the last 24 months of employment. For persons aged 53 and over, the period from which earnings are examined has been extended to 36 months.

Lower and upper benefit limits have also been introduced. Therefore, the allowance can’t be lower than €30.42 gross/day and higher than €256.96 gross/day. These limits apply to people who worked full-time.

In order to determine the amount of the allowance, the reference daily wage (SJR) is established in the first place. It’s based on the number of periods worked and not worked in the last 24 or 36 months. For this purpose, it’s necessary to count all calendar days worked and not worked between the start of the first employment contract and the end of the last contract. Then, the entire gross salary for the said period, without the following allowances: prime de pécarité and indemnité de rupture du contrat de travail, is divided by the total number of days worked and not worked. The gross daily remuneration obtained in this way constitutes the basis for calculating the amount of the benefit.

If periods without employment dominated in the last 24 or 36 months, Pôle Emploi will take them into account only up to the limit of 75% of periods of employment.

For an employee who has worked for the entire 24 months, SJR shall be calculated according to the following formula:

The amount of the monthly gross salary x 24 months worked
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ = SJR
730 days (365 days*2)

For a worker employed on the basis of a fixed-term contract or for a period shorter than 24 months, SJR is calculated according to the formula:

The amount of the monthly gross salary x the number of months worked
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ = SJR
730 days (365 days*2)

After the determination of the reference daily wage, the amount of daily benefit is calculated. Two formulas apply:

  1. the amount of daily benefit = 40,4% SJR + €12,12
  2. the amount of daily benefit = 57% SJR

Both formulas need to be used. However, when paying the allowance, the formula used to obtain the benefit amount more favorable for the employee will apply.

5. Degressivity of the benefit

After 6 months of receiving the allowance, its amount is reduced. However, this only concerns persons who are under 57 years of age at the time of the termination of the employment relationship and who obtain a daily allowance of more than €87.65 per day.

If the beneficiary’s daily allowance doesn’t exceed €121.68, the amount of the allowance may be reduced to 30% of its original amount. Persons who receive an allowance of between €87.65 and €121.68 will obtain a proportionally reduced benefit, but not less than €87.65.

In the event that the beneficiary searches for work very intensively and takes advantage of a training offer, the amount of the benefit paid to him/her will be maintained for the duration of the training.

6.Date of payment of the first allowance

The first payment of the benefit doesn’t occur immediately after registration with the Labour Office. It’s postponed in time and its date depends on several factors:

  • Postponing the payment of the first allowance is affected by the employer’s payment to the worker of severance pay at the end of the employment contract, the amount of which is higher than the determined level. This level is variable and its amount is established annually. This level is variable and its amount is established annually.

    This level is variable and its amount is established annually. It can’t last more than 150 calendar days. However, in the event that the dismissal is for economic reasons, the deferral period can’t exceed 75 days. The postponement of the payment of the first allowance doesn’t apply to workers covered by CSP (CSP, or Contrat de sécurisation professionnelle, is an enhanced support system providing for the organisation and implementation of the process of the return to work), as well as to persons obtaining ATI, i.e. the allowance for independent workers.

    In the event that the employee has worked for several employers within the last six months, all severance pays are taken into account, and the deferral period of payment will be calculated for each of terminated employment contracts. Consequently, the period that expires the latest will be taken into account.

  • The payment of holiday compensation delays the payment of the first allowance by the number of days for which the equivalent has been received in the last six months. The deferral period in this case can’t last more than 30 days.

    Also here, the postponement of the payment of the allowance doesn’t concern persons covered by CSP, made redundant for economic reasons, covered by ATI.

  • Usual waiting time of 7 days. This doesn’t apply in the event that Pôle Emploi has already used this period within the last twelve months.

The date of payment of the allowance is determined after adding up the factors indicated above.

7. Period of payment of unemployment benefit in France

As a rule, unemployment benefit in France is granted for the following periods:

  • 24 months (or 730 days) for persons under the age of 53;
  • 30 months (or 913 days) for those between 53 and 54 years of age;
  • 36 months (or 1095 days) for those who have reached the age of 55 years.

For persons made redundant for economic reasons, the duration of the benefit may be extended, provided that they have joined the CSP.

If there have been interruptions in employment, the aforementioned periods of receiving the allowance may change. The length of the benefit period is calculated on the basis of calendar days actually worked. Though, days not worked can’t constitute more than 75% of days worked. Working time doesn’t include:

  • illness lasting more than 15 consecutive days;
  • duration of maternity and paternity leave;
  • convalescence due to an accident at work;
  • duration of occupational diseases;
  • duration of training included and not included in PPAE (PPAE – personalized return to employment project developed in cooperation with the Pôle Emploi adviser) financed in part or entirely by CFP (CFP or compte personel de formation is an individual financial account of vocational training);
  • periods not declared in Pôle Emploi.

8. Departure of the unemployed person to look for a job outside French territory

A person receiving unemployment benefit who plans to leave France in order to look for work abroad should apply to Pôle Emploi for the U1/E301 form. The U1 form contains a summary of periods of insurance or employment in the territory of a EU, EEA country concerned, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

An unemployed person who moves from France to Poland should, in addition to the U1 form, also have:

  • a copy of a valid ID card or valid passport,
  • a copy of a valid residence permit – this requirement concerns non-EU nationals,
  • a copy of a document confirming the assignment of a social security number/copy of the health insurance card (also known as “carte vitale”),
  • a copy of the employer’s certificate called “Attestation employeur” for each period of employment covered by the application. In the absence of such an attestation, it’s necessary to have:
    • a copy of the last 4 payslips,
    • a copy of the proof of employment for each period of employment relating to the application,
    • a copy of the notice of termination/copy of the reference from the last employer or a copy of another document from the last employer indicating the date and reason for termination of an employment relationship,
    • if applicable, a copy of the internship and/or training certificate.

A person receiving unemployment benefit in France will retain the right to the benefit in question, despite the departure to another EU country, if he/she registers with the Labour Office of the State to which he/she arrived within 7 days. In the event of unfulfilment of this condition, payment of the benefit in France will be suspended until registration with the Labour Office in the new country. On the other hand, in case of registration with the Labour Office of another EU country, Pôle Emploi will continue to pay unemployment benefit for a maximum period of three months.

An unemployed person who, in order to retain the right to French unemployment benefit, has registered with the Labour Office of another EU country can’t stop actively seeking work. If the unemployed person ceases looking for a job, the Labour Office in the new country will send the U3 notification to Pôle Emploi. Its sending may result a change of the entitlement to receive the benefit and the suspension of the right to the allowance.

9. Changes effective from 1 February 2023

On 17 November 2022, the French Parliament adopted a reform of the unemployment benefit system. It was introduced in connection with the labour market situation and the unemployment rate in France. The reform entered into force on 1 February 2023.

New provisions allow the French government to shorten the benefit period by 25% for newly registered persons. This means that, instead of e.g. 24 months of payment of the allowance, new unemployed people will receive it only for 18 months. If the unemployment rate drops below 9% and doesn’t increase above 0.8 points during the quarter, the labour market situation is considered stable and the benefit payment period is reduced by the aforementioned time. Otherwise, allowances will be paid in accordance with the rules before the reform.

It’s assumed that the situation on the market will improve if the unemployment rate remains at 9% for 3 consecutive quarters.

According to INSEE, the unemployment rate currently stands at 7,3% and continues to decrease slightly. Therefore, the government will shorten the duration of unemployment benefits by 25% from February.

The amendment of the provisions won’t affect the amount of the benefit in any way, nor will the required seniority change. In fact, the reform relates to persons whose contract hasn’t been renewed after its expiration.

The reform doesn’t apply to TOM (overseas territories) and to certain groups of professions, e.g.: seafarers, fishermen, dockers, persons dismissed on economic grounds, persons employed in the entertainment industry.

10. Legal notice

The study is a work within the meaning of the Act of 4 February 1994 on Copyright and Related Rights (OJ 2006, No. 90, item 631, consolidated text, as amended). Publishing or reproducing this study or its part, quoting opinions, as well as disseminating in any other way the information contained therein without the written consent of Crede sp. z o.o. is prohibited.

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