This guide walks through how to get unemployment benefits (“chômage”) after you lose your job. Pôle emploi uses specific calculations to determine your pay, however it cannot exceed 75% of your previous salary.
What is chômage?
Chômage is the French term for unemployment. France has one of the strongest unemployment benefits schemes in Europe, so don’t worry if you have lost your job.
In France, individuals who are unemployed may be eligible for unemployment benefits, also known as chômage, which provide financial assistance while they search for a new job. It is used as a catch-all phrase for anyone not working and receiving benefits from the pôle emploi.
Who can get unemployment benefits?
In order to be eligible for unemployment benefits in France, an individual must meet certain criteria. These include:
- Living in France (mainland and overseas, except Mayotte where the unemployment insurance rules differ).
- Having worked for at least 4 months (i.e., 88 days or 610 hours) during the last 24 months (last 36 months if the insured is at least 53 years old at the date of the end of the last employment contract).
- Having involuntarily lost their job (end of a fixed-term contract or temporary assignment, early termination at the initiative of the employer, dismissal), or following a contractual termination.
Unemployment benefits for immigrants
Types of contract termination eligible for chômage
There are several types of contract termination that may make an individual eligible for unemployment benefits in France.
This refers to a situation where an individual is dismissed from their job by their employer. In order to be eligible for unemployment benefits, the dismissal must be involuntary.
Mutual contract termination (“Rupture conventionnelle”)
This refers to a situation where an individual and their employer mutually agree to terminate their employment contract. In this case, the individual may still be eligible for unemployment benefits.
End of fixed-term contract (“Fin de CDD”)
This refers to a situation where an individual’s fixed-term employment contract comes to an end. In this case, the individual may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they are actively seeking employment.
Forms of unemployment benefits
There are several forms of unemployment benefits available in France.
Allocation d’aide au Retour à l’Emploi (ARE)
This is the standard form of unemployment benefit available to individuals who have lost their job involuntarily and meet the eligibility criteria outlined above.
Allocation de solidarité spécifique (ASS)
This form of benefit is available to individuals who have exhausted their rights to ARE and are still actively seeking employment.
Allocation temporaire d’attente (ATA)
This benefit is available to specific categories of individuals, such as asylum seekers and individuals released from prison, who are not eligible for other forms of unemployment benefits.
How quickly do I get unemployment benefits?
Once you have followed the steps below, you will receive your first payment on the next upcoming payday.
How much money do I get?
It is relative to your previous monthly salary. If it was less than €1,186, you will receive 75% of that salary. However, if for example, it was €1,400 the amount will be equal to 40.40% of the salary daily + €12.05, or 57% of €1,400, whichever is higher.
The daily unemployment benefit is calculated using the highest result from the following two formulas:
- 40.4% of the daily reference salary + €12.95
- 57% of the daily reference salary
In any case, the benefit cannot exceed 75% of your daily reference salary.
It’s important to note that these numbers are just an example and that the exact calculation and percentage used can vary depending on individual circumstances and factors such as the individual’s age and previous employment history.
How long do unemployment benefits last?
The length of time an individual can receive unemployment benefits in France depends on several factors, including their age and previous employment history. In general, benefits can be paid out for up to 2 years for most workers, and even 3 years for those over 55.
However there is a degression (“dégressivité”) on the amount received. After each year passes, the reduction can be up to 30% of the initial allocation amount. However, there is a minimum amount that the allocation cannot fall below, which is €91.02 per day (approximately €2730 per month gross for a 30-day month).
How to apply for unemployment benefits
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to apply for unemployment benefits in France.
Step 1: Register with pôle emploi
The first step in applying for unemployment benefits in France is to register with pôle emploi within 12 months of losing your job. You can do this online or in person at your local pôle emploi office.
Step 2: Attend a preliminary meeting
Once you have registered with pôle emploi, you will be invited to attend a preliminary meeting by e-mail. During this meeting, you will discuss your situation with a pôle emploi counselor and provide any necessary documentation. Don’t worry, they are there to help you and some can even speak English. You don’t need to bring anything with you.
Step 3: Receive notification of eligibility
After your preliminary meeting, you will receive notification from pôle emploi regarding your eligibility for unemployment benefits. If you are eligible, you will receive information on how much you will receive and how long you will receive benefits.
Step 4: Actively search for employment
In order to continue receiving unemployment benefits, you must actively search for employment and attend regular meetings with your pôle emploi counselor. They may call you and inquire about your job search. You may also be required to participate in training or other activities designed to help you find employment.
Receiving unemployment benefits
You will receive payment at the start of each month by bank transfer like a regular salary.
Once you begin receiving unemployment benefits, there are certain rules and requirements you must follow in order to continue receiving benefits.
- You must be actively looking for a job and be able to prove it.
- You must also accept reasonable job offers and participate in any training or job search support programs that pôle emploi offer you.