France’s new work-for-cash program could have serious ramifications for workers

Earlier this month, the French government relaxed the nation’s stringent employment law for the first time in 25 years, effectively allowing anyone who wants a job to get one with the help of a pocketful of cash.

The new policy will last until June 30 and is designed to quell growing resentment among jobless workers and a lack of investment by businesses.

It comes at a time when the country is facing a seemingly endless downturn in employment and a raft of new laws has been proposed in Paris to seek out the source of the problem.

“This law allows those who want to contribute to the economy to do so and simultaneously boost their income,” said the French President, Emmanuel Macron, who has made boosting the economy a key aim of his presidency and the adoption of the law had been long-anticipated.

In order to qualify, an adult can apply to a state agency for a three-month short-term contract that lasts for at least 45 days. They are given up to 9,000 euros in monthly subsidies and can get up to 100 euros extra to spend on goods and services.

A bill to extend the program to five years from the current 3 was tabled in the French National Assembly in late February and has already passed through the chamber and is now awaiting a parliamentary debate.

Though it was approved by 171 votes to 20, the initiative drew some criticism that it was in fact deepening the unemployment crisis instead of easing it, especially since a third of the unemployed live on less than 1,000 euros a month.

The idea of the “vantage points” has been employed by many governments before to stem the tide of inequality.

Though advocates say they will help put more people back to work, the French Left is deeply skeptical that such policies will be able to pull unemployment down much.

They also say that workers will be in the same position after the year-long scheme ends — and consequently risk losing their positions or worse — again.

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