Women, big losers of the pension reform? On this point, the government has all the more difficulty in doing work of “pedagogy” as its own assessment of the effects of the reform is clear: women will retire seven months later, against only five for men.
“We absolutely do not disagree. On this point, women are a little more impacted than men ”, even had to recognize the Minister for Relations with Parliament, Franck Riester during an interview, causing unease even in the ranks of the majority. And the smiles of the opponents of the reform. “We will soon have little more to do to convince the French of its harmful effects,” confides a trade unionist.
Lower pensions for women
“I have heard a lot of inaccuracies”, reframed Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne on Sunday January 29 on Franceinfo, affirming that “this reform protects women, especially those who have interrupted careers”. And to come back at length to all the provisions of the reform aimed at reducing the inequalities that affect women with regard to retirement.
These inequalities are real. Admittedly, due to better life expectancy, their average retirement period is longer than that of men: 26.5 years, compared to 23.2 years. But their pensions are also lower: 52% of women receive a pension of less than €1,000, compared to only 20% of men. The effect of an accumulation throughout their career: this is often put on hold or slowed down by motherhood. With the effects of lower remuneration and greater exposure to part-time work.
The amount of their pensions suffers. They are on average 25% lower than those of men, even if, under the effect of changes in society and a place that is gradually normalizing in the world of work, this situation is tending to improve – in 2000, this inferiority was still 30%. Many women, to correct the effects of a broken or incomplete career, find themselves more or less forced to continue working until the age of the cancellation of the discount. They are now twice as likely as men to continue until age 67 to obtain a full pension. The government’s assurance that it will not reach this age is precisely one of its arguments to underline that its reform seeks to protect women.
Contributions during parental leave at the heart of the debate
Among the other measures is a better consideration of quarters contributed for parental leave. These contribution quarters – as well as those taken as carers – will now be counted to benefit from the “long career” scheme, even if their limitation to four will only allow 3,000 women (compared to 200 men) to benefit from it each year. These quarters of the stay-at-home parent will also be included in the calculation of the increased minimum contribution, which, the government hopes, could allow 2,000 women to leave a year earlier each year.
More broadly, the announced increase in the minimum contribution should benefit pensioners who have worked part-time, therefore mainly women: 1.1 million of them (for 70,000 men) will see their pension increase by €460 per year on average (against €300 for men). “Two-thirds of the beneficiaries of the minimum pension at 85% of the minimum wage will be women”, assures the Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt.
Ultimately, the government explains that its various provisions will allow an increase in women’s pensions: from + 1% to + 2.2% (compared to + 0.2% to + 0.9% for men). Enough to slowly reduce the gap between pensions, which could rise to 17% in 2035, then to 7% in 2070.
Like men, women will also see their legal retirement age increase from 62 to 64. This decline will contribute to improving their pensions, as they will contribute longer to better wages, but it will also have a specific negative effect for women. This will cause many of them to lose the usefulness of the eight quarters of contributions they receive after the birth or adoption of a child.
Should the cancellation age for the haircut be lowered to 66?
In fact, these two years of contribution “offered” in compensation for the negative effects of maternity on their careers, which often made it possible to make up for quarters without contributions despite reaching the legal age of 62, will be absorbed in the two more years of work.
Many of the 6,956 amendments tabled before the National Assembly’s Social Affairs Committee, which begins Monday, January 30 to examine the bill, seek to correct this effect of the reform. Deputies “In common”, the left wing of Renaissance, thus propose to count the quarters contributed beyond forty-three years to allow women to leave from 63 years old if they have a child, from 62 years old if they have two.
For its part, Horizons suggests offering a premium to women losing the benefit of the eight quarters, the MoDem outlining a similar proposal. The Republicans, they propose to lower to 66 years the age of cancellation of the discount from two children and to look into this other “trap to small pensions” which constitute the different methods of calculation of survivor’s pensions.
The Minister of Labor does not close the door to these reflections. Thursday, January 26, during his wishes to the press, he thus noted the inequality between private and public employees, the latter only benefiting from four quarters instead of eight per child. “On survivor’s pensions, there are thirteen different ways of calculating the right and the amount of the pension, with or without a means test depending on the case,” he acknowledged.
“Opening the door to the modernization of family rights”
Olivier Dussopt says he is ready to “open the site of the modernization of family rights”. “They were designed at a time when the family was reduced to a single model, without taking into account the evolution of families, their recomposition, new kinship ties which mean that, sometimes, in the education of a child or building a family, social ties outweigh a number of natural ties,” he said.
Would this mean that a mother-in-law could benefit from additional trimesters for having participated in the education of the child of her spouse? “It’s a political debate, but I am convinced that parliamentarians will be able to seize it”, commented the minister, acknowledging that these subjects went beyond the framework of a social security amending finance bill, the vector chosen by the government for its pension reform. But he says he is ready to address the issue “in other legislative vehicles”.
A tight legislative timetable
Monday January 30. Beginning of the discussion of the amending social security financing bill (PLFRSS), support for the pension reform, before the National Assembly’s Social Affairs Committee.
Mardi 31. Second day of strike and demonstration at the call of the unions.
Wednesday, February 1. Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt is heard by the Assembly’s women’s rights delegation.
Monday 6. Beginning of the discussion in the hemicycle. The debates can last until Friday, February 17, the start date of the parliamentary recess.
Wednesday February 15. The Senate hears the union representatives.
Monday February 27. If the deputies have not voted on the bill before February 17, the government can directly seize the Senate of the text, which has two weeks to decide.
Sunday March 26. Deadline for a final vote on the text.
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