Partial unemployment down by two thirds since start of year

Partial unemployment aims to preserve jobs in a sector experiencing a temporary economic downturn Photo: Shutterstock

Partial unemployment aims to preserve jobs in a sector experiencing a temporary economic downturn Photo: Shutterstock

The number of people working reduced hours under a state subsidy scheme has dropped from 34,117 at the start of the year to 11,992, the government said on Wednesday.

An economic affairs committee--the Comité de conjuncture--met on 27 September, the economy ministry said in a press release two days after the meeting. The committee approves applications for partial unemployment.

It granted 672 requests by companies to cut working hours for staff with a view to preventing lay-offs. This means the equivalent of 11,992 full-time employees will be paid 80% of their wages by the state in October. People earning the minimum wage receive their full salary, but companies continue to pay social charges for their staff.

The government mid-year began scaling back the partial unemployment scheme, tightening rules after restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen their doors. Prior to the pandemic, the scheme was limited mostly to industrial companies but temporarily extended to cover all businesses because of the crisis.

In the wake of the July floods, the government also allowed businesses not covered under normal rules to apply for partial unemployment if they were unable to work because of damage caused by the unprecedented flooding.

During its meeting this week, the committee approved 23 requests for partial unemployment by companies that have not yet recovered from the natural disaster. At its August meeting, 66 requests were approved.

Earlier in the year, building companies received extra help because of material shortages slowing down construction.

The end of subsidies for the hospitality sector has meanwhile created opportunities for sector federation Horesca.

For a hospitality business to benefit from state support, it must present a job retention plan or a plan on how it intends to recover from the financial straits it finds itself in. Horesca offers a ready-made solution to its members, facilitating the process.

There are more than 2,700 businesses in the hospitality sector, the latest figures by Statec show. Around 1,350 are Horesca members.

Additional reporting (in French) by Catherine Kurzawa on Paperjam.