"I asked the government to implement this tax cut by funding it by removing some tax loopholes, the need to work more and cuts in our public spending." This excerpt from Emmanuel Macron's speech, recorded last Monday but not broadcast because of the Notre-Dame fire, highlights a new, unconventional axis of the President's policy. The French will have to devote more time to their working lives in the coming years.
Read also – SURVEY. If the French had to work more, they would prefer that it be by returning on the 35h
France is one of the countries where we work the least and one of those who redistribute the most toward the most disadvantaged. To balance the social accounts, let alone to lower the income tax, as the head of state should confirm Thursday, the status quo no longer seems feasible.
The French will leave later retired
The debate on pension reform is the first illustration. Admittedly, the draft points system carried by High Commissioner Jean-Paul Delevoye does not provide, for now, to delay the age of departure, currently set at 62 years. But many personalities, including Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, the leader of the Medef, propose that we go more clearly in this direction to 64 years. On average, the French are already retiring at 63 years old. Soon they will leave later. Unless accepting a decline in their pensions.
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There are two other ways to "work harder". Give up the 35-hour week and delete one or more holidays. The first hypothesis seems excluded. Especially since companies do not ask for it. "The 35 hours are no longer a real constraint, says the head of a business lobby.If a company wants to spend 36 or 37 hours, it can do it by offering overtime."
One less holiday is "a boost of 0.4% for GDP" according to Bercy
On the other hand, the second option really seems to be under study. "A holiday less, it is about 3 billion euros of social revenue and more, calculated one in Bercy, and a boost of 0.4% for GDP, or 9 billion euros of national wealth and more. "
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The example of the chaotic suppression of Pentecost Monday decided in 2004 by Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin does not seem to scare the government. In this case, May 8, already removed by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing but restored by François Mitterrand in October 1981, would be an ideal target. Hard to touch another Catholic holiday right now.
Deleting a holiday, "a foil" with the public opinion
The executive will have to be convincing: our survey carried out by Ifop points out that the suppression of one or more public holidays is, of the three measures that would make it possible to extend the duration of the work, that which is the most rejected. "The French believe that public holidays are an advantage, analyzes Ifop Director General Frédéric Dabi, which is a repulsive measure and clearly a warning signal for the government."
The other lesson from the survey is that retirees and LR and LREM supporters are most supportive of longer working hours. "We find the same cleavage as the reforms of the labor market or the SNCF," says Frédéric Dabi. A cleavage that could well trigger the battle of working time.