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Partial unemployment for two and a half months, my life is like a video game put on pause

"It's like a vacation. But non-consensual and confined". Mathieu*, 24 years old, had just found her first job as an engineer when, in march, France is diving

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Partial unemployment for two and a half months, my life is like a video game put on pause

"It's like a vacation. But non-consensual and confined". Mathieu*, 24 years old, had just found her first job as an engineer when, in march, France is diving into the containment. As soon as hired, it is placed in the part-time unemployment. He returned, for the occasion, to live with her parents: "my father, who had not stopped work, was surprised that the workshop is going to invest so much in me." Since then, the young engineer still has not set foot in his new company.

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Mathieu is part of the 50% of French assets which, during the containment, have been placed on partial unemployment. With the déconfinement, many have gone back to work. Other, because they work in sectors still subject to restrictions, or because their business does not yet meet its order book, have been kept to partial unemployment. Two and a half months off. Two and a half months strange of what could amount to a vacation but that also looks suspiciously like the - real - unemployment.

links with the company, Matthew quickly weakened. A few emails have been exchanged at the beginning of confinement, and are now more rare. "I tried to send a few messages to my superiors regularly. But they work a lot while I did after a while more large-thing to ask". Mathieu finds himself again in a situation of an "applicant", not of employment but of "his" employment. But hard to complain as we had neither to go to his place of work, or telecommute, and that one has received compensation.

Need visibility

The psychosocial risks of such a gauge, the life of the enterprise exist yet. "The employees that are still in the part-time unemployment can only adapt to a decision that emanates from their employer, underlines Thierry Nadisi, associate professor at the emlyon business school and a doctorate in management. The company has hand, so it is up to her to do something: this is what we call the justice interactional". It's up to the manager to come to the employee, according to the professor. "It is necessary to give the information as often as possible. Does not justify himself, but to justify the decisions that have been taken". And above all, to provide visibility, a horizon of resumption of work.

otherwise, all days are alike. "During the first weeks of confinement, we were doing points every two days, and training, says Cyril, the programmer of 38 years. And then they are spaced. It was heavy, it was not known how long this would last". Cyril is to be subjected to a new routine, with times of sunrise, sunset, and of course, a few exits. The déconfinement has not changed in the course: get out, for what? Cyril has made one or two barbecues in the gardens, at the most. Tunnel effect guaranteed. "My life is like a video game that would have been put on hold", he said,

The free time was not short, and Cyril has tidied up his house, handed over his affairs in order. Worn by the context of a pandemic, his thoughts wander also. The resumption of work is a distant horizon, but is it only desirable? "I don't really know if I'm looking forward to returning" says the one who had yet lived as "frustration" to be on the bench during a long period of time. The professions considered "essential" were at the front during the outbreak. Hers does not seem to be a part of it. "I'm going to begin training in naturopathy, which I thought about for a long time to help people, of course. The part-time unemployment has allowed me to mature this project", he explains : "I have cleaned up my house, and I have also moved my spirit."


Charles, 27 years old, was hired as an engineer in a company in the automotive sector, in the paris region, a year ago. Since its introduction to partial unemployment at the beginning of the confinement, he counted without too much difficulty interactions with his superior: "two e-mails". Among his colleagues, there was only one that he likes enough that they have exchanged their mobile numbers.

The employees of the production chain have taken the path of business; he, in charge of optimization of working methods, still do not know when it may resume. On LinkedIn, he happens to marvel at videos of plant machinery. "On Friday, I still hope that I will be recalled for Monday," he says. I am angry, because you could at least tell us a little bit how is the company. When I return, it will be several months late on my work," plague-t-it.

A relationship of frustration that led him to "make the point". "This experience has been much questioned the studies that I had done, and why I work". The links which hold with its use are weak; upon reentry, it will return to the university to initiate a conversion. Charles now wants to become a math teacher, "something that I thought about, but later in my career." A job of sharing. And then, "math is logical, it is rational, it is either true or false". No in-between, not troubled waters.


During the crisis of the sars coronavirus, the government had widespread access to partial unemployment, to avoid massive layoffs. The minister of Labour Muriel Pénicaud has, nevertheless, recognized this Friday morning, that this will not "last very long". "A lot of social plans, prepare", she added, while the government is preparing a new plan of support to the sectors most affected.

will This be sufficient? This visibility, as the employees are claiming both a lack of the businesses themselves. "If they were already fragile, is the part-time unemployment is not going to change it to full unemployment?" points out Sandra Gallissot, a lawyer and expert in law, human resources. The weak signals of social plans and bankruptcies to come multiply. "I think a lot of employees in partial unemployment, shall take this period as a conditional", based Dominique Lhuilier, professor emeritus in the centre research on work and development (CNAM), in Paris.

For Alexander, 26 years old, the part-time unemployment is a laborious countdown. Placed in this device in march, it has nevertheless worked for two additional days, telecommuting: "it was Scam-Land". His company has ordered him then to not to use his professional equipment. Its activity is suddenly stopped, which was reflected on his mood, his relationships: "It has taken me a head, I couldn't sleep at night. It has also exacerbated tensions with my girlfriend - mostly of my doing."

read also : A tsunami of bankruptcy filings in order to the start of the school

His communications company passes through a hard crisis. In April, her superior called. His contract was to end in July, Alexander will remain on partial unemployment until the end, and will not be renewed thereafter. The only compensation that he touches during this period is different from the "real" unemployment, which he feels all the anxieties. Indeed, he had eaten, without a great noise, and the break up with his company: in the heart of the confinement, he made himself one last time in the premises, filed his equipment to telework, his badge, and closed the door behind him.

*All names have been changed.

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