Paul-Henri Antonmattei, professor of labor law: “The government wants to completely regain control of unemployment insurance”

Paul-Henri Antonmattei, professor of labor law: “The government wants to completely regain control of unemployment insurance”

Paul-Henri Antonmattei, professor of labor law at the University of Montpellier: “we should rather focus on providing enhanced support” for job seekers. NIMES – STEPHANE BARBIER

Paul-Henri Antonmattei is professor of labor law at the Faculty of Law of Montpellier (Montpellier 1 University). It takes a critical look at the government's plans to change the current unemployment insurance framework.

Gabriel Attal wants to modify the current criteria which govern unemployment insurance, in particular the duration of compensation and the eligibility conditions. What do you think??

The government's approach seems to me inappropriate, ineffective and inconsistent. The feeling I have is that we want to sideline the social partners. Since 1958, we have had joint management. Except that in recent years, the government has taken control. He sends them a framing letter and asks them what they think of his proposals. This approach is dangerous. Let’s stop this stranglehold on unemployment insurance and trust the social partners.

Does the government's approach seem inappropriate ?

We have the feeling that the government wants to completely regain control of unemployment insurance. It is too early to make new changes. The ink of the last reform is, in fact, not yet dry. It is more preferable to wait for the results of a reform that only dates back to last year.

Why do you think it is inconsistent?

In the last reform, we retained a principle with the somewhat barbaric name of “contracyclity”. What does that mean?? It means that we modulate the duration of compensation according to the economic situation. When unemployment is low, it is severe and when it rises, it is broader. There, we want to do the opposite: unemployment is rising and we are being severe. This is, in my opinion, ineffective. Why ? We are tightening and restricting, making severe, the duration of compensation and eligibility. What do we get back with that?? A few million euros. I remind you that the unemployment insurance system is paid by employees. It’s an insurance scheme. The State only puts its hand in its pocket when it is in deficit. We are looking to save money. And, what's more, we link that to the savings that the State must make. Wouldn't there be other positions regarding savings?

What may be the consequences for job seekers?

We give a degraded image of the job seeker. We stigmatize him. Instead of wanting to reduce the duration or conditions of access to unemployment compensation, we should instead focus on its reinforced support. This is what we have to play on. This is also what the law of December 18 provides. We must also explain the great complexity of the labor market in France.


Yes, today we are experiencing a change of unprecedented severity and speed. The changes are technological, social and economic. Fortunately we have traditional professions, which are not strongly affected by these developments. In the hotel industry, crafts, for example. Except that they can no longer find people to hire. I regret that there is not sufficient political discourse in our country to fully understand the challenges of the changing labor market. Never in the history of humanity have we had such intense and rapid transformations in employment.

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