The ball of consultations around the controversial pension reform opened last week, and the least we can say is that the debates are already heated between the social partners, employers and the executive.

Until November 7, discussions must focus on the “employment of seniors” section of the bill.

On the subject, the Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt assumes the ambitions of the government, which wants to promote the return to employment of the over 55s.

According to challenge-jobs, in the third quarter of 2021, the duration of registration for jobseekers aged 55 or over was 771 days, compared to 349 days for all ages. France is also lagging behind at European level: the employment rate for 55-64 year olds is 56% there, notes La Tribune, compared to 72% in Germany or 76% in Sweden.

However, with the adoption of the reform desired by the government, which would shift the retirement age to 65, seniors would therefore risk spending even more time unemployed.

In an interview with the Journal du Dimanche a few days ago, the Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt reveals the government’s ways to promote employment for the over 50s.

Thus, the minister who is piloting the reform has issued the possibility, for the oldest, of combining salary and part of the unemployment benefit, “in order to compensate for the loss of earnings” on the income side.

A false good idea, for the CFTC. “This would give companies the opportunity to hire seniors with lower wages,” says Pascale Coton, vice-president of the union at Capital.

Olivier Dussopt has also shown himself to be in favor of phased retirement, and combining employment and retirement, and ensures that his cabinet is working on “incentive mechanisms, in the form, for example, of exemptions from social security contributions” for companies.

Finally, to encourage the work of seniors, the Minister of Labor mentioned the creation of a professional “index”, on the model of that for gender equality.

Concretely, this would involve asking companies to have a “minimum” number of seniors among their workforce, according to a percentage still to be defined.

But is it really a good idea? Opinions differ.

The measure, which will undoubtedly be the subject of heated discussions, is notably supported by the National Association of HRDs (ANDRH).

It is inspired by the model, implemented in 2019, to fight against gender inequalities in business, and promises to promote the hiring and retention of seniors.

The current index works thanks to a 100-point indicator of respect for gender equality in the workplace.

But how can this system be applied to the problem of age? By setting up, not compensation criteria, but indicators such as turnover in the company, the rate of internal professional mobility of the over 55s, the share of seniors in recruitment or training of the latter.

For the ANDRH, it would “help the HRDs who will in any case be confronted with the problem because of the reforms in progress”, abounds Sandrine Lannuzel, secretary general, in Figaro.

“Calculating this index would allow the subject to be followed in companies. It would help raise awareness and change mentalities”, assures Benoît Serre, deputy vice-president of ANDRH, in Usine Nouvelle.

“Such an index would allow companies to become aware of their practices. But it would also have another interest: it would help people over 50 who are looking for a job”, explains Marc Ferracci, Renaissance deputy, in the Express.

But for others, the implementation of such a device does not only have advantages…

Medef boss Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux recently spoke out against such a measure.

For him, an index would amount to imposing a “minimum percentage of seniors” on companies, which is absurd. “I don’t see how we can put this in place in a reasonable way… It makes no sense, for example, to ask start-ups to have a minimum percentage of seniors”, commented the person concerned in the Echoes columns.

Audrey Louail, president of CroissancePlus, goes in the same direction, speaking in the Express:

The consultations should continue until the end of November.