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Pensions: improving the employment of seniors, a bet far from won for the government

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Pensions: improving the employment of seniors, a bet far from won for the government

Sanctioning companies that do not employ enough seniors would be “complicated”, acknowledged Saturday, January 14, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, questioned at the microphone of France Inter about the “senior index”. This provision of the pension reform project intends to establish the obligation, from 2023 for companies with more than 1,000 employees (and in July 2024 for those with more than 300 employees) to publish an index supposed to reflect their efforts in terms of employment. seniors. But only those who do not publish the index would be exposed to a financial penalty, up to 1% of their payroll. In other words: bad students do not risk much…

However, improving the employment rate of seniors is indeed the heart of the matter. According to a study de la Dares, 35.5% of 60-64 year olds were employed in France in 2021, one of the lowest percentages in Europe. With the postponement of the legal retirement age to 64, the government hopes to keep these populations in business longer. In theory, the gain is twofold: pension funds collect more contributions in one pocket, and pay less in the other. But in practice, the equation thickens, as the unions keep repeating. “We cannot discuss the extension of the duration of the career if we do not resolve the fate of all those who are put out before retirement”, annoyed Laurent Berger, the general secretary of the CFDT, in the JDD columns.


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The idea that raising the retirement age would automatically lead to a deferral of unemployment insurance has a hard life. In reality, only 11.5% of the insured were compensated by Pôle emploi before liquidating their pension in 2019. A share in sharp decline, but which does not include the workforce in inactivity or disability. Between the reduction in the duration of compensation by unemployment insurance, which must come into force on February 1, and the decline in age, opponents of the reform therefore fear an aggravation of situations of fragility. This is true in the short term: after the reform of Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010, the number of unemployed people aged 60 and 61 receiving benefits had thus doubled between 2008 and 2015, according to Unédic. But in the long term, postponing the age has rather favored an increase in the employment rate of seniors.

And the alternatives to encourage companies to retain their workforce until liquidation have shown their limits. The previous governments have already broken their teeth there… The Delalande contribution, for example, in force from 1987 to 2008, which aimed to tax the dismissals of employees over 50, above all encouraged companies to limit hiring older staff. Same observation for the senior penalty, which punctured up to 1% of their payroll from companies that have not adopted an action plan in favor of the employment of older employees. Incentive measures have not done much better: the “generation contract” imagined under François Hollande, which provided for assistance for any hiring of a young person under 26, associated with the continued employment of an employee over 57 years old, was abandoned due to its low success. In 2015, 40,300 contracts were signed, five times less than expected.


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The government of Elisabeth Borne is therefore counting on two other devices, in force but which are struggling to gain momentum: the combination of employment and retirement on the one hand, and gradual retirement on the other. The first, intended for those who wish to resume an activity after liquidation of their rights, will again create additional rights. The executive thus hopes to encourage more retirees to work, while this system only attracted 3.7% of them in 2019. As for gradual retirement, which allows you to reduce your working time while receiving a part of his pension, the reform project intends to open it up to civil servants, and limit the possibilities of refusal on the part of the employer. In 2021, it represented only 1.9% of direct rights grants.

What to avoid going through the Pôle emploi box for the first concerned by the reform? Not sure. It is clear that in the event of economic difficulties, seniors are often the first to be pushed out. “I cannot be satisfied when we see large companies making voluntary departure plans or collective contractual terminations targeted at seniors,” Elisabeth Borne agreed on France Inter. And keeping these employees in place will be even more difficult if the economic situation deteriorates in 2023 and the unemployment rate stabilizes or even rises again. More pessimistic than the government in this area, the Banque de France expects GDP growth of 0.3% this year and a rise in unemployment to 8.3% at the end of 2024…

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