March 25, 2023

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Pensions: SMEs and craftsmen open to a gesture for those who started working early

Posted Jan 25, 2023, 6:30 AM

The fate reserved by the pension reform for the French who started working early raises questions even in the ranks of employers who nevertheless support the government’s project. Employers’ organizations representing VSEs and SMEs say they are open to parliamentarians modifying the contribution period required for certain people who entered the workforce at a young age.

“It is an adjustment that can very well be done at the level of Parliament, here is an opening that could be discussed at the level of the National Assembly”, declared Tuesday morning on France Inter, François Asselin, the president of the Confederation of small and medium-sized enterprises (CPME), while defending the need for reform.

Critics up to the majority

The employer leader was questioned in particular on the advisability of lowering from 44 to 43 years the contribution period for people who started working at 20 years old. Due to the postponement of the legal age, from 62 to 64, some will indeed have to retire having contributed one year longer than the contribution period required for most French people (43 years at the end of the scaling up of the reform).

“We are in favor of a modification on the 44 years, it is a point which we have already raised”, also declares to “Echos” Pierre Burban, the secretary general of the U2P, the organization representing the craftsmen, the merchants and the liberal professions. Medef, on the other hand, is obviously not on the same line, some of its leaders already worrying about the fragile financial balance of the reform. The CPME, vigilant on the cost of such a measure, is awaiting the figures on this one.

The question of the duration of contribution necessary for people who started working early arouses criticism from the side of the unions but also within the Republicans, key to obtaining the adoption of the reform without 49.3, and even in the ranks of the majority .

Knowing that the 44 years of contributions will also concern a certain number of people eligible for early departure under “long careers”. In detail, French people who started working before the end of their 18th birthday will be able to leave at 60, but they must also have contributed at 44 years old. Those who started before the end of their 16 years will be able to slow down at 58, with 44 years contributed.

“Less demanding” rule

Asked about this subject on Monday, the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, endeavored to defend the reform, arguing that the planned device has advantages compared to the one that applies today. “We are in a system where we ask those under 16 to be able to leave at 58 to have worked two years longer than the legal contribution period. We wanted to return to a less demanding rule by going to one year, ”she defended. Similarly, a possibility of leaving four years before the legal age has been opened up to careers started before the age of 18.

“We will continue to have these debates in Parliament,” she continued, before emphasizing that we could not base everything on the contribution period in a system which is also based on the legal age. “These are not at all subjects that came up in the debates with the employers’ organizations and trade unions,” added the Prime Minister. Not sure that the argument hits the mark on the side of the social partners who say they discovered the details of the reform during its presentation on January 10.

The head of government did not mention the cost of possible changes to the duration of contributions. This is however key, while the balance promised by the reform already appears to be compromised beyond 2030. In the parliamentary camp, it is circulating that the lowering of the required contribution period from 44 to 43 years would cost around 1.8 billion euros by 2030.

According to our information, the executive estimates that it would cost 1.2 billion euros in 2030 if people who started at 20 could leave at 63, having contributed for 43 years. And the bill would swell quickly afterwards, because the number of people concerned per generation would become increasingly important. Moreover, this figure does not take into account the cost of a possible reduction in the conditions for careers started before the age of 18.