Record numbers resign in France as bargaining power balance shifts -labour ministry

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Workers at Rafaut manufacturer near Paris

By Myriam Rivet and Tassilo Hummel

PARIS (Reuters) - More French employees than ever quit their jobs at the end of 2021 and start of 2022, as the balance of bargaining power shifts away from employers, a labour ministry study showed on Thursday.

Over one million quit between October and March, the study by the ministry's Dares research body showed, 90% of whom had coveted permanent labour contracts offering some of the highest level of job protection in the world.

Even though the figures were historically high, the trend was not as strong when viewed in relative terms, taking into account that the overall workforce has been growing in recent years, Dares said.

Growing numbers of people across many countries have left their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic as skilled workers start to re-evaluate careers and life choices - a phenomenon that a U.S. management professor famously dubbed the "Great Resignation".

Dares said the latest French figures did not point to a shrinkage of the workforce on that scale.

It said the resignation rate in the euro zone's second-biggest economy stood at 2.7% in the first quarter of 2022, the highest since the 2008-2009 financial crisis but below the level of 2.9% it had reached just before then.

"In the current context, the increase in the resignation rate thus appears to be normal, in line with the economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis", it said.

Tensions in the labour market, where bosses in some branches such as construction or hospitality increasingly struggle to recruit enough people, fed the trend, translating into job opportunities for many employees.

"Bargaining power is changing in favour of employees", Dares said.

(Writing by Tassilo Hummel; Editing by Ingrid Melander and John Stonestreet)