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Employment of seniors: faced with “a huge waste”, the government unveils its proposals for those over 55

The government is once again tackling the issue of senior employment.

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Employment of seniors: faced with “a huge waste”, the government unveils its proposals for those over 55

The government is once again tackling the issue of senior employment. This Thursday, Elisabeth Borne estimated that “doing without their expertise and experience (was) a huge waste”. “We will not be able to achieve full employment without taking up this challenge,” declared the Prime Minister during the “SME Impact” event organized by the Confederation of SMEs (CPME) in Paris, calling on the social partners to find “ new and ambitious solutions.

A few hours earlier, Bruno Le Maire had also returned to this subject. A week after his remarks which triggered a controversy over senior unemployment, the Minister of the Economy and Finance clarified his proposals on France Inter, presented as “a real action plan for the employment of over 55s ". The boss of Bercy first congratulated himself on having brought this subject back to the forefront. Wishing to put an end to “a certain number of hypocrisies” in the French social model, he put forward “very concrete measures” aimed at promoting the employment of seniors and fighting against their early exclusion from the labor market. First, all people between 35 and 45 years old exercising a “difficult [...], arduous” profession should have an “automatic right to a new qualification, training”, in order to avoid ending their career in a profession trying.

Then, the minister pleaded for a “gradual exit” from the labor market for those over 55. They could thus have contracts allowing them to work 80% of the time, while receiving “90% of their salary and 100% of their retirement contributions”. A way to gradually support them towards retirement, while keeping them in their jobs and allowing companies to benefit from their “know-how”, he argued. It remains to be defined, however, who would pay the difference between the salary and the actual working time, a point “which we must discuss” with the social partners, specified Bruno Le Maire. This system would, however, make it possible to combat unemployment among seniors, thus bringing additional contributions to state coffers.

The alignment of unemployment compensation with other assets can also be discussed, he argued. He also promised to soon take other “strong” measures in favor of the employment of young people, always with the objective of reaching full employment by the end of the five-year term.

Also read: “They are less sick, more punctual, they know how to write…”: these bosses who favor seniors

Last week, Bruno Le Maire had already spoken out in favor of a reform of the duration of unemployment compensation for seniors, whose employment rate reached, in 2022, 66%, well below the 25 to 49 year olds - 82, 5%. A “scandal”, he protested at the microphone of Franceinfo, denouncing a system which consists of sidelining the oldest, to make way for the youngest. He thus defended a transformation which would also make it possible to fight against the disguised “early retirement” of these workers. Their protection being more extensive than other assets, they can be retired early. “Why 27 months?”, Bruno Le Maire pretended to ask.

This is not the first time that these subjects have been addressed by the government. During the presentation of the pension reform project last year, the Prime Minister had already indicated that she wanted to reform the professional prevention account (C2P). Objective: use it to allow workers in difficult jobs to reorient themselves. If there already exists a progressive retirement system in France, the boss of Bercy wants to go further. He thus cited the “countries of northern Europe” as an example, following the example of what Olivier Dussopt had done in recent months, hailing the Swedish example. Same observation for MP (Renaissance) Astrid Panosyan-Bouvet, member of the Social Affairs Committee and the study group on the adaptation of society to aging: “We know what works with the example of Finland: a methodical and comprehensive plan. Health at work, professional training, gradual retirement, change in our cultural representations of seniors in the workplace… We must tackle all these subjects simultaneously,” she told our colleagues in Le Monde this Thursday.

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