During her 38-year career as a sales and marketing manager, Christine Jagueneau rarely thought about retirement. But when her job at a French industrial company was eliminated just before her 59th birthday in February last year, the idea of dipping into her pension took on unexpected urgency.
Despite nearly a dozen job interviews, employers have hinted that she is too old to be hired, she said. She has enough savings to live until she reaches France’s current retirement age of 62.
But a recently unveiled government plan that would see French people working until age 64 threatens to undermine their financial security, along with that of millions of older job seekers who have been effectively locked out of France’s job market.
“They tell us to work harder,” Jagueneau said. “But it’s almost impossible for older people to get jobs, because companies in France don’t hire them.”
As President Emmanuel Macron embarks on a reform of France’s expensive and generous pension system, the idea of forcing people to postpone their retirement has incited fury. Polls show that four out of five people oppose it. A united front of unions recently went on strike and hundreds of thousands of workers have joined the protests.
The disagreement has highlighted age discrimination in a country where millions of older applicants are excluded from the labor market before reaching the official retirement age.
In recent surveys by Indeed France, the country’s largest online job board, a quarter of applicants age 55 and older reported that employers had told them they were too old to qualify. Four out of 10 employers said they had no intention of recruiting people over 45 years of age. And 25 percent of companies said they would hire a younger person at a lower salary over an older candidate.
Just over half of French people aged 55 to 64 have a job, one of the lowest levels in Europe, according to Eurostat. By age 60, less than a third work — just under half the rate found in Germany and the Nordic countries.
Unions, including those that have been most open to some of Macron’s previous reforms, have warned that raising the retirement age will create a larger pool of older people without jobs.
“Telling people to work longer without dealing with the real issue of employability for older adults is hypocritical,” Jagueneau said.
Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne recently introduced measures that she said would make things fairer. To help older workers stay employed longer, the government would require companies to establish a publicly disclosed “index” of their senior employment rates, and provide information on access to training for people age 55 and older. years.
However, Patrick Artus, a government adviser, said a serious change in bosses’ attitudes was essential.
“If the result of this reform is only to have an increase in older adults with unemployment benefits because companies continue without hiring them, then the reform will be a failure,” he said.
Tom Nouvian contributed reporting to this article.
By: LIZ ALDERMAN
BBC-NEWS-SRC: http://www.nytsyn.com/subscribed/stories/6542047, IMPORTING DATE: 2023-01-23 20:10:07
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