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€2,000 for hiring older workers

€500 million aid bid to stop discrimination against older workers and to help young jobless into work

COMPANIES are to get a €2,000 bonus from the government if they hire job-seekers aged over 45 – but they also face a surcharge on their wage bill if they have too few apprentices or young trainees.

The carrot-and-stick moves, revealed by President Sarkozy, are part of a €500 million aid package intended to stop discrimination against older workers and to help young jobless into work.

It comes alongside other measures, with Mr Sarkozy saying half the money would be used to create work for 50,000 long-term jobless by giving extra aid.

France is among the poorest employers of older workers in Europe, with just 38 per cent of over-55s working. The bonus for older workers comes after a recent survey of personnel staff revealed that 70 per cent of them thought an employee was “old” at 45.

More than half admitted that they had considered a job applicant’s age when hiring.

The bonus also comes on top of €2,000 already paid by the Pôle Emploi job centre for taking on over-26s and an exemption of social charges for taking on over-45s.

As for young workers, Mr Sarkozy says companies with more than 250 staff will have to pay an apprentice tax of 0.1 per cent of their wage bill if they have fewer than three per cent of under-26s on their payroll. If they have less than one per cent, the tax will rise to 0.2 per cent.

Companies with more than four per cent of under-26 employees will get a bonus of €400 per contract a year. The government has calculated that this bonus-malus move could create 135,000 jobs for young people inside a year.

There is aid, too, for companies with under 250 staff which will get six months’ exoneration of paying social charges for each worker under 26.

Using Germany as an example, where two thirds of young workers were trained in apprenticeships or through college day-release, Mr Sarkozy said France had to do better than its present one third rate.

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