Workers who are suspended from their jobs without pay as they refuse to have a Covid vaccination as required for the job should not get low income top-up benefits, say council leaders in 15 departments in France.
Collectives from the departments sent a letter to Prime Minister Jean Castex on October 29 stating their opposition to the government decision to require the councils to grant access to France’s RSA income top-up benefit to unvaccinated workers in these circumstances.
The letter said that RSA benefits were not for this purpose as it is a “social and professional insertion resource” that could not “replace a national benefit specifically for people who stop work as they do not have a valid health pass”.
The collectives also said they should have been consulted before the initial government decision to grant RSA for such workers.
Which departments are refusing to give RSA payments?
The 15 departments are: Ariège, Aude, Côtes d’Armor, Gers, Gironde, Haute-Garonne, Haute-Vienne, Landes, Loire-Atlantique, Lot et Garonne, Lozère, Nièvre, Pyrénées-Orientales, Seine-Saint-Denisand Tarn.
President of the departmental council in Landes, Xavier Fortinon, told Sud-Ouest: “The state has made a decision that now has to be taken on by others – notably by departments. It’s incoherent and unfair. It’s not up to us to do this.”
A representative from Landes also told Midi-Libre that the decision from the government would “transform the RSA into an unemployment benefit in disguise, which is not its purpose”.
Vaccination against Covid became obligatory for professionals such as healthcare workers and firefighters in mid-September.
Those who refused to get vaccinated were liable to be suspended without pay.
What is RSA?
RSA (revenue de solidarité active) aims to provide a minimum income for unemployed or underemployed people of working age who are permanent residents in France and have low incomes.
- Claimants aged over 25 who are not students, unpaid interns, on parental leave, taking a sabbatical or unpaid or extended leave
- Claimants aged from 18-25 who have worked for at least two years without claiming unemployment or doing an internship during this time
- Young parents or expecting parents who are not pupils, students, unpaid interns, or on parental leave, taking a sabbatical or unpaid or extended leave
- Single parents who are divorced, separated or widowed with children to look after. Parents who are geographically separated are not eligible.
The amount of funds granted via RSA depends on the number of people living in the claimant's household and their household income.
For example, a single person with no children could be eligible for €565 per month, but a single person with two children to look after could be eligible for €1,018 per month.
Claimants may also be eligible for other benefits (such as single parent benefits) in addition to RSA.
This differs significantly from unemployment benefits, which in France are calculated based on the claimant’s previous salary.
People who have worked for at least four out of the past 24 months are generally eligible for separate unemployment benefits, however eligibility criteria are more complicated for people who have quit their jobs.
People who had to leave their jobs as they refused to get a Covid vaccine may be considered to have quit by default.