December 01, 2017
Unemployment insurance for all - nice idea, but does it work?
Emmanuel Macron promised a universal unemployment insurance for a modern society, in which job changes occur more often and the share of self-employed is rising. But the idea of universality sounds more attractive on paper than it is in practice, writes the editorialist Etienne Lefebvre. The first challenge is what to do with those who voluntarily resign from their job. A full coverage could end up being costly for the insurance fund. Most likely there will be special rules in this case. The political risk for Macron is that it undermines the idea of universality, and that this could then easily be understood as a simple extension of existing provisions. The inclusion of the self-employed is even more daunting. The self-employed are a heterogeneous group of people with different needs, where income is difficult to measure and the line between voluntary and involuntary job loss gets blurred. The insurer is not necessarily able to verify that the self-employed do not organise their own end of activity. And this is not even about the implementation difficulties. It is not even clear the self-employed want unemployment insurance. It is more in the interest of the employees to get them into the system.
The task is now to find objective criteria to distinguish involuntary loss of work, and to focus on basic fixed payments rather than a relative income payment to make this idea of an universal unemployment insurance work. The current proposal on the table is a fixed monthly payment of something between €600 and €700 for a duration of six months, and limit this to those independents whose businesses went bankrupt, according to an exclusive in Les Échos.