Sunday, March 06, 2011

France: Government Adds Incentives To Increase Employment of Older Workers

In order to build on the momentum created by legislation raising the retirement age in France, French employers are are to get a €2,000 bonus from the government if they hire job-seekers aged over 45, but they also face a surcharge on their wage bill if they have too few apprentices or young trainees. According to an article in The Connexion, the bonus comes on top of €2,000 already paid by the Pôle Emploi job centre for taking on over-26s and an exemption of social charges for taking on over-45s.

The necessity for this can be found in Bruce Crumley's article Time magazine, which recounts Sarkozy's success in raising the retirement age in France by two years, but points out that this law will not succeed unless Sarkozy "persuades French bosses to play along; they have a nasty habit of dumping employees older than 50." As Crumley notes, barely 40% of French people ages 55 to 64 are in the workforce as compared to an OECD average of 54%, and U.S. and British levels of around 60%. Furthermore, he notes, there is an attitude among French employers that older employees are handicaps rather than assets continues to harden, citing a 2007 survey finding that 50% considered 45-to-55-year-old workers already old.

Crumley follows up with remarks from Sorbonne sociology professor Anne-Marie Guillemard, author of "The Challenges of Aging: Age, Employment and Retirement," focusing on how many people approaching 50 are marginalized with busywork by employers, and what might need to be done about that. "Aging employees don't want to stop working, but when they see more than a decade of dead-end activity awaiting them in a place that wants them gone, most accept some sort of agreement terminating their job in exchange for a payout," says Guillemard, and then collect unemployment and other assistance until they reach pension age.
In French

Sources: Time Magazine "France's Labor Paradox" (March 14, 2011); The Connextion "€2,000 for hiring older workers" (March 2, 2011)

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