The government is pushing for the use of long-term partial unemployment to preserve employment

Faced with the economic firedamp announced in this year full of uncertainties, this is the anti-layoff shield par excellence. Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, the government has opened the floodgates of the Long-term Partial Activity Agreement (APLD), a device initially referred to by the acronym “ARME” (Reduced activity for job retention). which came to supplement partial unemployment. For a period of up to 24 months, the employer can decide to reduce employees’ working time in the form of non-working hours (up to 40% on average), with state aid.

This type of agreement now concerns more than 7,000 companies, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Labor, i.e. more than 500,000 employees covered to date by this system, the cost of which is estimated at 7.6 billion euros in the Recovery plan. “It works beyond what we had imagined” recently welcomed the Minister of Labor Élisabeth Borne. Unanimous observation, the APLD has achieved its objective: to limit job cuts and keep skills in companies affected by the crisis while giving employees a little visibility.

Already 44 branch agreements signed

“It is undeniable that the APLD makes it possible to avoid layoffs in companies which, otherwise, would have made social plans. But the risk is that it will be a waiting lock ”warns Pierre Roger, one of the CFE-CGC officials. “It’s a bet on the future,” he continues, “and in the event of a hard blow this will not prevent some employees from ending up at Pôle emploi at the end of the system. “

At the level of professional sectors, 44 branch agreements have been concluded to date which can be applied in companies via an agreement or unilaterally. This is a potential of more than 4.9 million employees who can benefit from this safety net against the crisis. Among these branch agreements we find metallurgy, plastics, Syntec, the cinematographic sector, cardboard packaging, collective catering, manufacture of furniture, leather goods, footwear, road transport, tourism … In other words, sectors in turmoil with the Covid crisis. About twenty other branch agreements are currently being negotiated, particularly cafeterias, collective and fast food restaurants, etc. which are also very affected.

SMEs with less than 50 employees favor the system

Launched in July, this variation of short-time working over a long period, up to 24 consecutive months or not (over a reference period of 36 months), allows employers to adjust employment month after month and train employees avoiding layoffs. The APLD must be set up via a company, branch or even unilateral agreement, with commitments on employment and training. It must be validated by the administration services of the Ministry of Labor (Direccte).

Concretely, the employee receives 70% of his gross remuneration (84% net) on non-working hours. The company is compensated at least up to 85% during the term of the agreement – even if the classic partial unemployment benefit decreases during the period – and even up to 100% if it belongs to one of the most important sectors. affected by the crisis.

At Airbus, one of the first large groups to have signed an agreement, the manufacturer severely affected by Covid-19 estimates that the APLD has enabled it to preserve 1,500 jobs. At Air France, faced with “an unprecedented crisis”, the majority pilots’ union signed an agreement which, according to it, will allow “a significant drop in the wage bill over time for the company” to pass the gap. air and therefore to preserve jobs. But the APLD is also fully used by SMEs (80% of agreements signed in companies with less than 50 employees).

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On the training component, a weak link in the system, Élisabeth Borne brought together companies a month ago (in video) to call on them to put more emphasis. Due to lack of time or organizational problems, many have not yet invested much in the training of their employees during their partial unemployment. To encourage them, the government finances 100% support for educational costs for companies with less than 300 employees. Upgrading, or even increasing skills, will however be one of the challenges to keep employees when they take over …

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