Partial unemployment in 2021: the main changes

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The partial unemployment scheme, which has helped many companies in recent months, will soon undergo new changes. The Council of Ministers held on Monday, December 21 specified the changes to the partial activity scheme. These will come into force on February 1st 2021. We summarize the main changes to come regarding partial unemployment in 2021.

The ordinance adopted on December 21, 2020 is formal. State-compensated partial activity will indeed be reduced in 2021. The only exception to the rule: sectors still closed by administrative decision. These will be able to continue to benefit from the aid until the end of June.

The Council of Ministers also welcomed the partial unemployment scheme. The latter has “proven its effectiveness in preventing economic layoffs”. Mathieu Plane, from the Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques (French Observatory of Economic Conjunctures), said: “This is one of the successes of this crisis management. This measure has cushioned the Covid shock and saved more than a million jobs in France.

Partial unemployment: what is the situation today?

At present, an employee who has been put on short-time work receives an indemnity corresponding to 70% of his or her gross salary, for a minimum salary of €8.03 per hour. In contrast, employees paid at the SMIC receive 100% of this compensation.

The employer, on the other hand, receives a partial activity allowance, paid by the State and Unédic. This allowance is used to reimburse the indemnity paid to employees. Until June 2020, the amount of this allowance was set at 70% of gross salary. At that time, the State fully covered the compensation paid by companies to employees. Since then, this amount has been reduced to 60% of the gross salary, leaving companies with a remaining 15% to pay. Note that this measure does not apply to the sectors most affected by the health crisis.

The ordinance adopted on Monday 21 December by the Council of Ministers extends the possibility of increasing the rates of assumption of responsibility according to the sectors. This will go beyond December 31, and until the end of June “at the latest”. In light of this ordinance, a draft decree will be published shortly detailing the different rates.

Partial unemployment in 2021: what changes are planned?

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The reduction in the short-time compensation rate was originally scheduled to take effect on November 1, 2020. This was postponed due to the increase in cases and the lockdown that occurred this fall.

Some changes will now take place as of February 1, 2021. The terms and conditions will be as follows:

  • Compensation for employees will be reduced from 70% of gross salary to 60% of gross salary.
  • Employers will be reimbursed for 60% of this compensation, i.e. a remainder of 40% (compared to 15% currently).
  • The list of sectors benefiting from full coverage annexed to the decree of June 29, 2020 has been modified. The following three categories have been added:
  • “media advertising agency”,
    “group accommodation for minors in tourist accommodation” and
    “manufacture of metal structures and parts of structures”.
  • In addition, four activities have been changed from ‘related sectors’ to ‘main sectors’. These are:
    “provision/rental of tents, marquees, structures, sound, photography, light and pyrotechnics”,
    “passenger transport by cabs and tourist vehicles with driver” and
    “short-term rental of cars and light motor vehicles”.
  • Finally, 45 new sectors have been added to the list of “related” sectors of activity.
    From now on, the rates of allowance and compensation may be modulated according to a geographical criterion. This new feature should make it possible to take into account the situation in certain territories, where specific restrictions related to Covid-19 may be applied.
  • Home-based employees will be able to benefit from a partial activity scheme for the period from November to December 2020. The partial unemployment scheme will also be extended for “vulnerable private sector employees”. Employees who have to look after their children because of a closed school will also be able to benefit.

Partial unemployment: what happens to the so-called “protected” sectors?

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The protected sectors are not affected by the latest decree issued on December 23, 2020. For these sectors particularly weakened by the current crisis, the decree issued on June 29, 2020 is still in force.

By “protected sectors”, we mean :

Companies belonging to the “main sectors”, particularly affected by the crisis. Tourism, hotels, restaurants, sports, culture, air transport and events

The companies belonging to the “related” sectors carry out an activity closely linked to that of the main sectors. They are therefore experiencing a significant drop in turnover (-80% between 15 March and 15 May 2020)

Companies whose main activity involves receiving the public and which may have been interrupted during this particular period. All the establishments closed following the last governmental measures will benefit from a complete assumption of responsibility. And this, until the end of June 2021.

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