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MAKE SENSE OF: Pôle emploi

THE Pôle emploi is the French job centre service.

THE Pôle emploi is the French job centre service. It was created in 2008 when two other services merged: ANPE, which helped jobseekers find work, and Assédic, which paid their benefits. Branches can be found in mediumsized towns; cities may have several. Find yours at www.pole-emploi.fr/annuaire/am/#!/

Their main role is to help people who register as jobseekers (demandeurs d’emploi), though, for example, anyone can use its site to search for jobs. To register, you must be seeking work and legally resident.

How do you register?
Visit your centre or make an application online. You need to have available your social security number, a CV in French and a bank RIB (paper with account details). Click at the top of the page at www.pole-emploi.fr/accueil/where it says Vous inscrire à Pôle emploi. You will be asked if you have already been a registered jobseeker (if it was less than six months ago there will be no need for an interview for you to register); if you have a personal space on the site - if you have had no dealings with the Pôle emploi before you will not; and if you are available for work. You must then give your name and address, work periods and previous salary, knowledge and training, and the type of job wou are looking for. You will be given a choice of dates and times for interview. You will be posted an invitation, plus paper forms to be filled in, signed and brought in with certain documents, including your passport, an attestation Pôle emploi from your last employer (they are obliged to give you one), a photocopy of your carte vitale and a bank RIB.

The interview
You need to bring the completed paperwork and the documents mentioned above, plus your diplomas. A Pôle emploi worker will help you create a PPAE (projet personnalisé d'accès à l'emploi) - an action plan as to the kind of work sought, expected geographical area and salary, plus what action you will take to find work. It is based on qualifications and experience and the local job market and is reevaluated at least every three months. The Pôle emploi may suggest suitable openings, based on the PPAE.

Ongoing relations
If, after three months, you have not found work, you will move to monthly follow-ups with a named advisor, called your conseiller référent (the first will be during the fourth month). They will help you plan what you need to do - contacting potential employers, attending training sessions, doing skills analyses, etc.

Job offers
If you refuse a “reasonable job offer” twice, you must unregister. Initially the new job should pay at least 95% of the previous salary and correspond to your qualifications; after six months 85% and you should accept up to an hour’s commute (or 30km); after a year, it should correspond to your qualifications and pay at least as much as your unemployment benefit, with the same distance criteria. You are not obliged to accept a job at a salary lower than that usual in the region for the job type, a part-time job, or a temporary one, if you are looking for a permanent one.

Unemployment benefit
Registering as a jobseeker means you become eligible for unemployment benefit if you have built up the right to it. The main benefit is Allocation d’aide au Retour à l’Emploi (ARE). You need to have been paying into social security for at least 122 days (or have done at least 610 hours of work) in the 28 months before the end of the last job (for under 50s) or 36 months (aged 50 or above); be unemployed involuntarily, and be under state retirement age. The daily amount is based on your old daily salary (pre-social charges). It is: 40.4% plus €11.57 or 57.4%, whichever is higher (do a simulation at: www1.pole-emploi. fr/simulation/formulairedroits) Some social contributions are deductible.

NOTE: If you are not eligible for benefits, you can still register and may therefore benefit from various training opportunities as well as jobseeking help.

Language barriers
If your French is poor you may need help from a French-speaking friend for the form-filling and interview (larger branches are more likely to have English-speaking staff). Once registered, the Pôle emploi is likely to suggest French lessons, such as those organised by government agency OFII, which are free and aimed at helping foreign arrivals settle in (www.tinyurl.com/OfiiFrenchLessons) - jobseekers are prioritised for places. Branches in large cities also have sections called Pôle emploi international, with officials called conseillers EURES, who have language skills and can offer extra advice to foreign people in France (they also advise French people wanting to work abroad). Several English-language information leaflets on the Pôle emploi and working in France are also available at Pôles emploi.

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