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Tuesday · April 04 2006

French students protest new labor laws
Protestor Victor says:

It means that when I do get a job I will basically have to work as hard as I can to keep it.

I'm sure there's some good reason to protest the new laws, but I don't think this is it.

What you had to say:
April 04 2006

I hope for Victor's sake that that's a bad translation.

My understanding is that the new law would mean that new employees are on probation for two years. Most of us are used to 3 months probation. During that period, they can fire you without much of a good reason and you don't have the same rights to grievances and what not that you would after. It shouldn't take more than 3 months to realize that you've accidentally hired a useless tosser. So the fear is that, by making it two years, the law is creating a whole class of temps.

On the other hand, unemployment among the young is obscenely high in France, and at least part of that is because employers don't want to hire somebody if they know that it will be damn near impossible to ever get rid of them if they need to.

April 05 2006

Most places I've worked, the policy has been that the company can fire you without reason, but you can also leave anytime without reason. The difference here is that it applies to everyone. Seems highly discriminatory to single out people 26 and under.

April 06 2006

Interesting article in the Trib today argued that the United States's fire-at-will policies actually help to keep our unemployment down. If that seems counterintuitive, the writer went on to explain that French employment laws make it incredibly difficult to get rid of employees. Usually they require several months' notice from the employer, an even more lengthy severance package (sometimes up to 3 years), fines paid to the state and court approval. Because of that, French companies do whatever they can NOT to hire additional employees. They would rather suffer competitively from a lack of resources than be stuck with dead-weight employees. This reluctance to hire has a negative impact on the country's overall unemployment rate.

So, I guess the French youth don't know how good they have it. Basically, the French government has created a liquid job market for what are basically unskilled, under-experienced workers. Of course, it most likely won't be viewed that way when a 24-year-old French kid shows up looking for a job after he's been at 3 companies within the past 2 years, but perhaps down the road they'll figure it out...or not...they are still the French, after all.

© 2006 Jason Keglovitz