3 questions to understand a contested project

3 questions to understand a contested project

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Anything but pay rises. After the purchasing power bonuses and the increase in the ceiling for tax-exempt overtime, Parliament agreed on the principle of the purchase of RTT (catch-up working time) by employers. After the National Assembly, the Senate adopted the device, included in the amending finance bill, on the night of Monday, August 1.

It looks like a victory for the right and Valérie Pécresse, of which it was one of the measures of the program for the presidential election. It is indeed an old idea, pushed during his five-year term by Nicolas Sarkozy, supposed to restore purchasing power to employees, by allowing them to be paid for their days off, obtained when they have worked more 35 hours per week.

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If the two chambers agreed on the principle, with the support of the government, they however voted two different versions of the text. In accordance with Bruno Le Maire’s wishes, the deputies voted for a limitation of this device to the end of 2023. On this date, the government would like to assess the effects of the measure and also limit the cost for public finances, currently estimated at 500 million euros per year. On the contrary, the Senate, where the right is in the majority, voted for the measure to be final. This question will have to be decided by the final adoption of the amending finance law, and could also rebound during the major social consultation announced at the start of the school year.

Redeeming your RTTs, what will change?

The measure voted by Parliament is a derogation from the Labor Code. According to the terms of the bill, which has not yet been finally adopted, the aim is to allow a “employee, regardless of the size of the company” of “give up all or part of the days or half-days of rest” acquired as RTT, and therefore to be paid for them by his employer. An employee can benefit from these RTT if the collective agreement on which he depends so provides, as long as he works more than 35 hours per week. If these RTT days are not taken, they are in principle lost for the employee.

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On paper, the ” redemption “ RTT must be strictly voluntary and obtain the agreement of the employer. The principle is not new. Since 2016, the measure could be provided for by certain collective agreements, in particular if the absence of rest was attributable to the employer. But the sums received were subject to income tax and social contributions, which will no longer be the case.

Also, the negotiation was done at the collective level, considered preferable by the unions to avoid weakening the position of the employees. After the vote of the National Assembly, sixteen personalities, elected officials, experts and academics, denounced in a column published on July 31 in the JDD the “consecration of mutual agreement, leaving the employee alone with the employer”. While some employees may wish to knowingly benefit from the measure, the signatories fear that it may not be imposed by employers in certain companies.

Is it for everyone?

No. First, the measure is only applicable to private sector employees and therefore does not concern the 5 million public officials. In addition, as its name suggests, this system only concerns employees who can benefit from RTT, the benefit of which is provided for by a convention or collective agreement. In its costing of the cost of the measure for public finances, the government provided that only 15% of employees would benefit from the measure, and that they would only be paid one day of RTT per year.

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In practice, it is mainly executives who risk being affected by the measure. And they are also those who will derive the most benefits, since they will benefit fully from the tax exemption provided for by the text, unlike the many employees who are not taxable on income. The days or half-days worked will be paid with a salary increase. This must be at least equal to that of the first overtime hour, ie not less than 10%.

Is this the end of the 35 hours?

This new device in any case circumvents the spirit. Limiting working time to 35 hours per week was justified by the idea of ​​work sharing to reduce unemployment and the need to give workers more rest. According to the official assessment of the General Inspectorate of Social Affairs, 350,000 jobs have been created. The payment of RTT goes against this logic. It is the same for raising the ceiling for overtime to 7,500 euros, against 5,000 euros today, also validated by parliamentarians within the framework of the amending finance bill.

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With the sustainability of the increase in tax exemption and the desocialization of overtime, LR senators thus explain wanting “encourage the increase in the working hours of employees” and increase through work the purchasing power of employees”. Clearly, there is no question for them of increasing wages by cutting back on corporate margins. Last year, their margin rate reached its highest level since 1946, according to INSEE.

What makes say to the signatories of the tribune of the JDD that the repurchase of the RTT “is mainly used to avoid dealing with the real subject of purchasing power: wage increases. An issue that should give rise to major collective negotiations at the inter-professional level, in the branches and in the companies”. The return to social life could be agitated, some unions have already called for a day of strike at the end of September.

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