Imagine, for a moment, a world in which you can – if you wish – take a break from your banking career every half decade and get paid a huge amount by the state to pursue your dream of setting up a fintech firm, or gym, or food delivery service?
Welcome to France under (ex-banker) Emmanuel Macron, where plans are afoot to allow disaffected high earners to quit their jobs and develop new careers whilst being paid up to £66k ($87k/€74k) a year in unemployment benefits.
The plans were first expounded by Macron on the campaign trail in 2016 and are part of his proposed changes to unemployment benefit. “Every five years, everyone will have the right – if he chooses – to resign to change career or develop his own professional project,” said Macron last December. A spokesperson for Macron’s party En Marche clarified the plan for Le Figaro, saying that the intention is to reach out to employees who have a “feeling of uselessness” in their organization, and to give them a twice decade chance to do something else whilst claiming unemployment benefits.
French unemployment benefits are notoriously generous. Payable at 70% of a previous salary (capped at around €74k) for up to two years, they’re sufficient to inspire senior associates and vice presidents with entrepreneurial aspirations to quit banking and follow their “dreams.” Nothing comparable is on offer in London, where there are instead fears that current tax advantages offered to entrepreneurs could be scrapped under a Labour government.
Junior bankers moving from London to Paris could therefore have more than just the architecture to look forward to. There’s some trepidation in France that Macron’s plan could be unaffordable, but for the moment he’s simply addressing this by suggesting that the generous resignation benefits will be restricted to people with “projects” (thereby excluding those who wish to resign and lie about). Given that almost every junior and mid-ranking banker has a project, this is unlikely to do much to deter financiers who fancy trying their hands at something else for a bit.
Photo credit: Bienvenüe Paris by Magdalena Roeseler is licensed under CC BY 2.0