Director of Muriel Pénicaud’s cabinet when she was Minister of Labor (May 2017-July 2020), Antoine Foucher was one of the main architects of the reform of unemployment insurance – in its initial version which dates back to July 2019. In his eyes, the changes that the government of Jean Castex has just made to these measures are inappropriate, in particular because strong unknowns weigh on the reality of the labor market.
What do you think of the changes made to the unemployment insurance reform, which the government has just detailed to the social partners?
It is impossible to know whether these arrangements are suitable or not because we do not know the current reality of the labor market. INSEE has just recorded a decrease in the unemployment rate in the last quarter of 2020, but indicating that it was a decrease ” trompe l’oeil “. All our measuring instruments are confused by the exceptional aid in progress: partial activity, loans guaranteed by the State, solidarity funds. These powerful devices allow tens of thousands of employers, and millions of self-employed workers and employees to survive the crisis. But what will happen when these safety nets are gradually withdrawn?
Do you think it is not opportune to initiate this reform today?
It sounds like a roll of the dice, because I repeat: no one knows what the job market will look like after the Covid-19 epidemic. The reform, when it was presented almost two years ago, was justified because it took place in a context of economic growth, with a number of job seekers in decline and historic job creations. It sought to modify the behavior of all the actors involved, in a systemic manner. A single example: the reduction of precariousness. The measures developed with this in mind in 2019 included two orientations: increasing the contributions of companies that abuse short contracts and encouraging people to resume a sustainable activity, instead of chaining odd jobs and periods of inactivity compensated, as we saw it. for a long time in several sectors – the hotel and catering industry, among others. But since then, the situation has radically changed: if thousands of cafes and restaurants are forced to close their doors in the coming months, or if the tourist season is still in decline, what is the meaning of such provisions?
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