In France a new labor law was passed, called the First Employment Contract (CPE), that allows business owners to fire an employee without any reason before two years of employment is over if the employee is under the age of 26 . The new law was passed in a slightly devious manner by avoiding a debate on the statute that is, apparently, standard before any regulation issued by the prime minister (Dominique de Villepin) is placed into law.
Large protests and rioting have been taking place throughout France because of the devious manner in which the statute was passed as well as there is strong resentment towards how the law affects youth employment. The main disagreement with the law is that giving an employer the ability to fire someone 26 and under after two years creates a strong bias against long-term employment for youths. Some argue that because of this bias “an employer will have an incentive to end their employment before the two years are up and hire another employee who is under 26.” (from ohmynews.com) This is especially prominent right now because youth unemployment has reached almost 20%, prompting me to wonder: how could Dominique de Villepin have thought that this statute would help lower the youth unemployment rate? Is the idea to give employers more of an incentive to hire younger people because they can easily fire them later? I would think there is a better approach.
Before the CPE was passed businesses could fire an employee with no reason only before one month of employment. It seems to me that two years is a bit exorbitant, though I also believe that an employer should have longer than one month as a trial period for the new employee. Three to six months, with no age restriction, seems at least reasonable to me and any more than that begins to give the employer incentive to continually find new people. I hope France is able to come up with a good alternative to the CPE that can show the rest of the world that strict labor laws, and strong labor unions, can make life more of a life rather than simply an employment history.
I applaud 35 hour work weeks. I love the idea of at least one month of vacation per year. And I truly doubt stipulations such as those would have any negative effect on business in the US.