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Unemployment insurance reform: In the Senate, the right-wing and center majorities want to unite to keep their version of the text

Are we headed for a war of words over unemployment insurance reform, with each camp refusing to budge on the other? The Joint Joint Commission (CMP), which will make a fate with this bill, will be held on Wednesday. Deputies and senators must agree on a common version of the text, while on October 25 the Senate has significantly sharpened the copy that came out of the Palais Bourbon. “At this stage, no agreement …”, blurted out the LR co-rapporteur of the Senate, Frédérique Puissat, on Tuesday mid-day on the sidelines of a group meeting where Les Républicains agreed to show firmness to this. text. In addition, the preparatory discussions between the various parties should continue in the evening.

“My goal is to ensure that the majority of the Senate holds. We must be aligned with our center allies so that the majority is in harmony,” explains Frédérique Puissat. Just a few days after having to give up several of the guarantees that it had posed on the renewable energy bill, sometimes at the end of months of debates, the senatorial right wing intends to show its determination. It must be said that the latter, aware of the balance of power that the LR and its center allies can establish under the CMP, with five elected representatives sitting on the 14 parliamentarians who make it up – that’s as much as the president’s majority – are at the beginning most of the changes that the Upper House has made to the a-tassere form. “Whether we switch to one side or the other , this is the story we have to write”, launches the elected representative from Isère.

Bonus-malus on short contracts is eased

Among these changes, two main stumbling blocks for the executive. In particular, the senators wanted to deprive unemployment insurance on the one hand of temporary workers who would not accept a CDI offered for the already filled position, on the other hand of jobseekers on fixed-term contracts who would refuse three CDI proposals in the same year. “I think that these two amendments carry identical risks”, warned Olivier Dussopt, the minister for relations with the parliament, in an interview given to the Ouest France daily on Friday. “The first is to encourage job seekers not to accept short contracts or temporary assignments for fear of finally being locked into a job that they would have taken for food, temporary reasons and without necessarily wanting to build their professional life there, ” he explains. “The second reason is that I consider that an employee who has terminated the contractual obligation he has signed should not be sanctioned. »

Another subject of tension: the relaxation of the experimental bonus-malus system created in 2019, which modulates the rate of contribution of companies to the unemployment insurance according to the number of contract expirations that give rise to registration at the employment center. The senators excluded from this unit the ends of the CDI and the temporary missions, to retain only the ends of the CDD of less than a month. Too much unraveling, says the government. “We consider that this reform is useful, it is only one year old, and it must be made permanent. That is why we have included in the bill its extension until August 31, 2024”, pleaded Olivier Dussopt, still in the columns of Ouest France.

On the other hand, the minister with the abandonment of the post, which is now equated with a resignation after the adoption of an amendment tabled by LR deputies, welcomed the “supervision” conditions set by the Senate’s Social Committee.

On the way back to joint management of the insurance system?

The High Assembly also wanted to reopen the way for joint management of the system. If the main issue in the text is to allow the executive to act by decree to be able to modulate the rules of unemployment insurance according to the economic situation, the senators shortened this intervention period and transferred it from December 31, 2023 in the first version of the text as of 31 August 2023. Above all, they replace the “framework letter” that defines the procedure to negotiate an agreement with a simple “guidance document”, to give oxygen to the social partners. “We are clear that some within the presidential majority no longer believe in joint management. But I think that on this point the government can hear us,” says Senator UDI Olivier Henno, the other co-rapporteur of the text. At the end of the day, the president’s majority of deputies seemed ready to accept a compromise on this point, according to a parliamentary source.

The withdrawal of benefits after several denials of CDI award is also part of the red lines defined by the senatorial majority. “On the fact. It does not mean that we are closed to certain adjustments”, nuances Frédérique Puissat. “Perhaps we can still move the number of refusals, it is not a question of being excessive, but with this measure it is the question about the incentive to work that is asked”, insists Olivier Henno. The centrist is also ready to let go of the relaxation of the bonus-malus. “Personally, I do not believe in this device. It is neither fair nor efficient. But since it has been tested a bit due to covid-19, let’s go all the way with the implementation. We will conduct an evaluation at the end of 2023.”

“It is not a question of giving in to all the achievements of the Senate – the president’s majority will have to accept to take over some of our markers – but it would be a shame if this CMP was not decisive”, continues Olivier Henno. If necessary, the text would return to the National Assembly in the version prior to the Senate’s changes. “LR deputies warned me, this time they will no longer vote for the government text”, warns Frédérique Puissat.

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