Nearly 240 million francs withdrawn each year from sanctioned unemployed –

In Switzerland, fines imposed on absent-minded or negligent job seekers amount to some 240 million francs a year, or 1.4 million unpaid daily allowances. Because of these fines, some unemployed live below the subsistence level, the program Temps Present reveals.

Every year, some 90,000 job seekers are punished by unemployment insurance for violations, real or supposed, of their duties. Delays in looking for work, insufficient searches or forgetting an appointment with a labor consultant, all leading to the abolition of the per diem allowance. Certain so-called serious offenses are sanctioned with three months without income. For example, refusal of eligible work is serious misconduct, even if the assigned job is two hours away from home. It is possible to object within 30 days.

On the side of the associations of assistance to the unemployed, one is being moved. “Unemployment insurance does not take into account the minimum subsistence level when punishing,” says Doris Gorgé, founder of the Geneva association Le Trialogue. Sanctioned job seekers and therefore temporarily without income often do not have access to social assistance benefits or do not apply for it, for fear of losing their residence permit.

Will of the legislator

“The legislator wanted to exert a certain pressure through the sanction, so that the jobseeker takes his duties seriously,” explains Boris Zürcher, head of the labor division of the State Secretariat for the Economy (Seco), for his share in Bern. , in charge of the Confederation of supervision of the cantonal employment offices. “Targeted sanctions will ensure a quick and sustainable return to the labor market,” he said.

The legislator wanted to exert a certain pressure via the sanction

Boris Zürcher, head of the labor department at Seco

But pressure is also being exerted on the Regional Placement Offices (ORP). “The Seco has introduced a certain number of indicators that compare us and therefore creates – what we are going to say in quotes – a healthy competition”, for its part acknowledges the head of the employment service of the canton of Neuchâtel , Valerie Gianoli. “The law uses the logic of an insurer, so the logic of the insurer is to limit the damage. And that is why the legislator has determined in this logic that the jobseeker who does not fulfill his obligations sets the ‘sanction’, she continues.

The Seco publishes an annual ranking of cantonal employment offices. The division distinguishes the cantons mainly on the basis of the rapid reintegration of the unemployed into the labor market. A report commissioned by Seco in 2007 concluded: “Overall, both the frequency and magnitude of sanctions have clearly had positive effects,” the TempsPresent report found.

perverse effect

The direct link between fines and a quick return to work is easy to explain, according to professor of economics at the University of Lausanne Rafael Lalive, author of a study to the question, “The sanction leaves you without resources, so you accept the first job offer that comes along.”

Rafael Lalive studied the biography of a cohort of formerly unemployed who returned to work under the influence of a sanction. “These people stay in low-paid jobs for a long time, their lives are permanently damaged,” he notes. His 2012 study looked at a 42-month period following a period of unemployment.

The longer a jobseeker has unemployment insurance, the more the attractiveness of his profile decreases

Valérie Gianoli, Head of the Employment Service of the Canton of Neuchâtel. [Temps Présent - RTS]

Valérie Gianoli, Head of the Employment Service of the Canton of Neuchâtel.

“We prefer job seekers to get back to work quickly, even if it’s in a slightly less well-paid job,” says Valérie Gianoli. “The longer a jobseeker stays on unemployment benefits, the more the attractiveness of his profile decreases.”

As for the Seco, it doesn’t keep track of the professional future of people who have completed unemployment insurance.

Raphael Engel

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