France plans to restrict unemployment benefits

The French government is planning to shorten the period people can claim unemployment benefits to strengthen incentives to work, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal says.

Unemployment benefits would be limited to a maximum of 15 months, down from 18 months now, Attal told La Tribune Dimanche in an interview published on Sunday.

The government also plans to require someone to have worked eight months during the previous 20 months - instead of the current six months during the previous 24 months - to qualify for unemployment benefits.

"If we do not reform unemployment insurance, we risk stalling on the road to full employment," he said.

"This reform will allow us to create ever more jobs in our country."

A 2023 reform allowed for benefit duration to vary depending on labour market conditions, the idea being that it should be shorter if jobs were readily available.

But the government, which has struggled to keep its deficit reduction plans on track, considered this did not go far enough.

Attal said the government planned to adopt the reform by decree, rather than present it to parliament, and that it would enter into force in December.