Where is the employment rate for seniors?
Under the effect of successive pension reforms, the employment rate of 55-64 year olds rose from 38% in 2008 to 56% in 2021. France, however, remains below the European average (60,5%). The differential is very high for 60-64 year olds (33% in employment against 46% in the euro zone according to the government), the 55-59 age group being in the European average.
The shift in the retirement age is "one of the most effective levers for increasing the employment of seniors", according to the executive: under the effect of the reform, the employment rate of the over 60s would increase 2 points from 2025 and 6 points from 2030.
But according to a 2018 report by France Strategy, if the rules (legal retirement age and contribution period) have "a strong impact" on the employment of seniors, it is "far from being mechanical". Raising the legal age from 60 to 62 in 2010 thus resulted "in an increase in employment for only half of the people concerned", the others being divided between inactivity (including a substantial proportion of invalidity or long illness) and unemployment.
What is this new index?
To encourage companies to change their behavior, the government has announced the creation of a "senior index" similar to the gender equality index. It must be implemented by companies with more than 1.000 employees from 2023 and by those with more than 300 employees in 2024 and "will make it possible to promote good practices and denounce bad ones", according to Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne.
"The refusal to inform the index will be a reason for financial sanction", assured Olivier Dussopt. The indicators that will be used to set up this index will be "defined following an interprofessional consultation", specified the Minister of Labor.
Companies where the employment of seniors is not progressing will not be sanctioned, but they will be subject to a "reinforced obligation to negotiate a social agreement" in order to improve the situation, added the minister.
What are the reactions?
The Medef has repeatedly said its opposition "to the principle of a senior index". Its president, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, had cited the example of "a company which hires a lot of apprentices and therefore sees mathematically its percentage of seniors reduce", and which "will be classified as bad".
For Philippe Martinez (CGT), "this is not an index that will scare employers who every year lay off hundreds, thousands of employees who are over 57, over 58 years old".
"There will be the report and what will we do? We will act (...) in the companies to tell the boss: the employment rate of seniors is not good, it must be increased. But it does not there are no sanctions", lamented Laurent Berger (CFDT).
"It's a small smokescreen", while companies have been "honed for 20 years doing layoff carts (...) from the age of 58", added François Hommeril (CFE-CGC).
Annie Jolivet, economist at CEET-Cnam, “cannot very well imagine a rapid and direct impact of the index” and notes that “everything depends on the way” in which it will be constructed.
Benoît Serre, vice-president of the National Association of HRDs (ANDRH), suggests that these indicators include the "rate of access to training", "internal mobility" or "the hiring rate" of the over 55s. years.
"But it's not the index that will solve the problem on its own, we need public policies on the side, on the model of the plan + a young person, a solution +. Otherwise, we will just shift the problem: today , it is the 57-58 year olds who have difficulty finding a job. Tomorrow, it will be the 61-62 year olds, "he predicts.