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Unemployment benefits in France

In what situation can I claim?

The back-to-work allowance (allocation d’aide au retour à l’emploi, ARE) is the allowance paid by unemployment insurance to employees.

It constitutes a replacement income that is paid to you if you can prove a minimum duration of work prior to the unintentional loss of your job.

You must also prove that you are actively seeking work under the individual job-seeking plan (projet personnalisé d’accès à l’emploi, PPAE).

What conditions do I need to meet?

In order to receive unemployment benefits, you need to:

  • show a termination of the employment contract by dismissal, or the termination of a fixed term employment contract (CDD), or a contractual termination, or resignation for a legitimate reason;
  • be physically capable of carrying out a job;
  • be enrolled as a job seeker with the Pôle emploi and comply with the individual job seeking plan (PPAE);
  • be actively job seeking;
  • have a certain duration of affiliation to the system (at least 88 days over the previous 28 months or the 36 previous months for employees of at least 53 years old) at the time of the termination of the employment contract;
  • have not reached the legal retirement age (or the age required in order to receive a full pension);
  • accept reasonable job offers (in the event of refusing two reasonable job offers, the job seeker may be sanctioned).

What am I entitled to and how can I claim?

Amount of the back-to-work allowance (ARE)

The gross amount of the daily allowance to help you return to employment includes:

  • a fixed part equal to €11.84;
  • a variable part, equal to 40.4% of the daily reference wage (SJR).

This sum cannot be less than 57%, nor higher than 75%, of the daily reference wage.

If the employee worked part-time, the fixed part of the back-to-work allowance is reduced proportionally.

The monthly replacement income is equal to the amount of the daily allowance multiplied by the number of days in the month considered.

The net amount of the back-to-work allowance cannot be less than €28.86 per day. If the beneficiary follows training prescribed by the job centre and receives a back-to-work or training allowance (allocation d’aide au retour à l’emploi formation, Aref), the net amount of the latter cannot be less than €20.67 per day.

Duration of payment of back-to-work allowance (ARE)

The duration of payment of the allowance to the job seeker depends on the duration of affiliation taken into account for the entitlement to benefit rights over:

  • the 28 months preceding the end of their contract, if they are under 50 years old;
  • the 36 last months, if they are 50 years old or more.

This duration of payment cannot be less than 88 days (4 months) nor higher than:

  • 730 days (2 years), if the job seeker is less than 53 years old on the date of the end of their employment contract;
  • 913 days for those aged between 53 and 55.
  • 1,095 days (3 years), if they are 55 years old or more.

The duration of payment can however be extended in certain cases. More information is available on the French administration's site.

The "renewable rights" measure allows a job seeker receiving compensation to resume one or more activities the total duration of which is greater than or equal to 150 hours, without losing the rights they had acquired at the time of their first application for compensation. They can combine the new rights resulting from a short period of activity with those that had not been used at the time of their return to work.

Contributions and taxation

A deduction intended for the financing of supplementary pensions is made from the gross amount of the daily allowance.

The back-to-work allowance is also subject to the generalised social contribution (contribution sociale généralisée, CSG) and the contribution to the repayment of social security debt (contribution au remboursement de la dette sociale, CRDS). The Aref is exempt from CSG and CRDS.

The back-to-work allowance (ARE) and the allowance for return to employment or training (Aref) are taxable income.

Jargon busters

  • Daily reference wage (SJR): it enables the amount of the allowance to be calculated, and corresponds to the average gross income received during the 12 months prior to the last paid working day, up to a limit.
  • Back-to-work allowance (ARE): allowance paid by unemployment insurance.
  • Allowance for return to employment or training (Aref): it is paid by the job centre to indemnified job seekers who are following a validated training course.
  • Personalised project for access to employment (PPAE): this is established by the job centre after the job seeker signs on as unemployed - it aims to determine a path for return to employment that is adapted to the job seeker's situation.
  • Interprofessional national union for employment in industry and trade (Unédic): body that runs the system of unemployment insurance and sets the terms and conditions of indemnification.
  • Pôle emploi (job centre): a body that concentrates all the assistance necessary in order to find a job in the same place (reception, orientation, training, placement of job seekers and payment of a replacement income).
  • Generalised social contribution (CSG) and Contribution to the repayment of the social security debt (CRDS): social security deductions destined to diversify the sources of financing for social security.

Know your rights

The following links provide further information about your rights:

Who do you need to contact?

Pôle emploi is the sole point of contact for job seekers in France.

European Commission and national authorities dealing with unemployment insurance.

This page was last updated on February 15, 2020.

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