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France lower house approves job law replacement

[JURIST] The French National Assembly [official website], the lower house of parliament, on Wednesday approved compromise labor legislation [legislative materials] to replace the controversial First Employment Contract (contrat premiere embauche, CPE) [JURIST news archive], the youth jobs plan that prompted weeks of protests [JURIST report] across France. The new proposal calls for increased training and internships for youths, and would change only Article 8 [JURIST document] of a larger law on equality of opportunity [PDF text]. The French Senate [official website] must now vote on the proposal, but the vote is not expected to come before parliament adjourns for spring recess Friday.

The CPE created an age-based exception to traditional French labor regulations by allowing workers who were under 26 years of age at the time of hiring to be fired without cause at any time during the first two years of their employment. It was thought that such an "employment-at-will" provision would encourage hiring and lower France's youth unemployment rate, running at about 22 percent and over 50 percent among immigrant youth in some areas. The measure was signed into law [JURIST report] by President Jacques Chirac earlier this month before its replacement [JURIST report] was dramatically announced Monday in separate statements by Chirac and French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. AP has more. Le Monde has local coverage.

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