Employees are entitled to 30 days of annual leave (working days – jours ouvrables). They acquire the days at a rate of 2.5 vacation days per month, but employers may agree to anticipate the days. The holiday calendar runs from June 1st to May 31st.
Workers on paid leave, leave to compensate for overtime, leave for family reasons, absence from work due to occupational accidents or illnesses, maternity or paternity leave, adoption leave, training leave, and military service periods accumulate days off while taking them.
The employment law establishes that employees should not take more than 24 working days off at once, and they must take at least 12 consecutive working days of the leading vacation at one time. If an employee gets sick during the holiday leave, they are not entitled to additional days.
Some companies give additional vacation days depending on how many years the employee has been with the company. Some collective agreements provide extra days off for Christmas or Easter holidays.
Employers and employees can agree to carry unused holidays to the next year if the collective agreement permits it. However, this is not mandatory, and the employee may lose any days they didn't take by May 31st (provided the reason for not taking them was heavy workload).
Reduction of working time (RTT)
The 30 days holiday entitlement is an employee right based on a 35-hour workweek. In cases where employees need to work beyond the legal 35 hours, certain companies and CBAs may offer reduced working time (RTT) of up to two days per month to compensate for the extended working hours. RTT is calculated by taking the working days in the year and subtracting the contracted days. Employees cannot carry RTT days to the following year.
There are 11 public holidays in France, but only Labour Day (May 1st) is a statutory paid holiday. However, most employers grant all public holidays as paid time off (part of the employment agreement or CBA).
Employees who work on Labour Day are entitled to a premium pay of 200%, while other public holidays don't trigger a pay increase for those who work during these dates (unless specified on the CBA or employment contract).
Public holidays that fall on weekends do not move to the next working day.
France 2021 Public Holiday Calendar
|1/1/2021||Friday||New Year's Day|
|5/8/2021||Saturday||WWII Victory Day|
|11/1/2021||Monday||All Saints Day|
An employee's absence due to illness suspends the work contract and the employer's obligation to compensate the employee fully. The Social Security Health System pays out a daily benefit to employees on sick leave. The employer may be required to top up the pay depending on the applicable collective bargaining agreement's provisions.
Employees are entitled to sick leave paid by Social Security for six months if they have either:
- Worked at least 150 hours during the three months before the leave
- Made contributions to the Social Security of at least 1,015 times the legal hourly minimum wage in the past six months
After the 6th month of illness, employees must satisfy the following criteria to extend the leave to up to one year:
- Have worked at least 600 hours in the 12 months before falling ill
- Have contributed to the Social Security benefit for at least 12 months before falling ill
- Have received an income of at least 2,030 times the hourly minimum wage in the 12 months before falling ill
Social Security covers up to 50% of the employee's daily earnings, capped at €46 per day, from the fourth day of illness onwards.
The employer must provide a salary certificate to social security authorities to enable the employee to receive social security benefits.
In Alsace-Moselle, the employer is responsible for paying the benefit from the 1st to the 3rd day of illness.
The benefit payment is raised to 90% of the employee's gross income for the first 30 days of illness if they:
Have worked for the company for more than one year
- Notify the employer within 48 hours and present a medical certificate (the employer may request a second medical examination)
The amount is lowered to 67% for a maximum of 6 months. This additional compensation only kicks in after the 8th day of absence due to illness.
The sick leave is considered unjustified if the employee doesn't present a doctor's note, even if sick for only one day.
Employment agreements or collective agreements may stipulate full compensation, topped up by the employer.
In case of severe or prolonged illness, the benefit can be extended for up to three years. Employers are allowed to terminate the employment contract if:
- The illness impacts the employee's ability to work in their current position
- The employee is deemed medically unfit for any rehabilitation or reintegration measures the company might reasonably take to accommodate them
- The employee's continued absence causes significant disruption to the company, forcing the company to look for a permanent replacement
Mothers are entitled to a minimum of 16 weeks of paid maternity leave if the employee:
- Has made contributions to Social Security for at least ten months before the birth of the child
- Has worked at least 150 hours during the 90 days before the leave started.
Pregnant employees can take up to 6 weeks off before the child's birth and the remainder after it (minimum of 8 weeks). During the leave, the employee's contract is suspended, and the employer does not have to pay the employee an allowance unless stated by the CBA.
Employees may be granted a 15-day antenatal leave prescribed by their doctor before maternity or even a supplementary postnatal leave. During maternity leave, employees are entitled to an allowance by the Social Security equal to their average income over the last three months preceding the prenatal leave, capped at €89.03 per day. Many collective agreements guarantee full salary, while others guarantee the employer's continuity of salary payments during maternity leave.
The employer must provide a salary certificate to the social security to enable the employee receiving the social security benefits. Pregnant employees are protected from being terminated during pregnancy and up to 10 weeks after their actual return to work.
After the third child, the employee receives a longer maternity leave: 8 weeks before birth and 18 after (for a total of 26 weeks). If the actual day of giving birth happens after the estimated date, the prenatal leave is automatically extended. However, the postnatal leave entitlement remains the same.
If the mother suffers an illness during pregnancy, she is entitled to two additional weeks before birth and four additional weeks after birth.
Fathers are entitled to 3 days leave for the birth or adoption of a child (full salary paid by the employer) and 11 days of paternity leave (paid by Social Security). That is extended to 18 days in case of multiple births. They must take paternal leave on consecutive days, within four months of the birth.
They must inform the employer at least one month in advance. Employers must provide a salary certificate to Social Security so that the employee can receive an allowance, capped at €89.03 per day. Employers can choose to top up the benefit.
France has currently passed a reform that extends the paternity leave to 28 days, but it hasn't entered into effect yet (it will on July 1st 2021). Out of the 28 days of paid leave, employees must take at least seven days off. The employer pays the first three days, and Social Security pays the remainder.
Employees adopting a child are entitled to paid adoption leave. Its length depends on existing children in the household and those being adopted:
- One child adopted with up to one child already in the family: 10 weeks if taken by one parent or ten weeks plus 11 days if split between two parents
- One child adopted with two or more already part of the household: 18 weeks if taken by one parent or 18 weeks plus 11 days if split between two parents
- Two or more children adopted, regardless of the number of kids already in the household: 22 weeks if taken by one parent or 22 weeks plus 18 days if split between two parents
When two parents split the adoption leave, they can only do so into two maximum periods, the shortest of which is at least equal to 11 days (or 18 days in the event of multiple adoptions). These two periods can follow each other or be taken simultaneously.
For the leave to be paid by Social Security, the parents must meet the same criteria as specified under the maternity leave section. The salary taken into account for the allowance is capped at €3,428 per month, and the benefit is capped at €89.03 per day.
The leave begins on the date of the child's arrival at the home. However, it can start earlier, within the limit of 7 consecutive days preceding the child's arrival at the home.
The employment contract is suspended during this leave, but the employee still benefits from protection against dismissal.
Parents are entitled to unpaid parental leave or part-time arrangements at the end of the maternity and paternity leave. The leave is available between six months and three years (if the parent has more than one child) after birth. The leave lasts for one year, but can be extended until the child's third birthday and divided between both parents. It can be taken simultaneously or alternately by the parents.
Employers cannot refuse an employee's request to take parental leave if they have been with the company for at least one year before the child's birth. During this leave, the employment contract is suspended, and the employer does not have to pay the employee. Some parents may benefit from Social Security allowances.
If the child has a serious illness or disability, the parents are entitled to an additional 310 days off over three years.
Parents are entitled to unpaid time off to care for a sick or injured child under 16, regardless of how long they have been employed. Employees are entitled to three days off a year to care for their sick children (5 days if the child is younger than one or if the parent has three or more children). Employees must present their employers with a medical certificate.
Employees are also entitled to unpaid leave to care for a disabled relative or relative suffering from a severe loss of autonomy. The person in need of help must be a French resident. The leave duration is often listed on the CBA, but in the absence of a contractual clause, the maximum period of leave is three months, with the option of renewal for up to 1 year.
Employees must request such leave one month in advance. During the leave, the employment contract is suspended. Even though the leave is unpaid, some CBA might provide for it, or the employee may qualify for a daily caregiver allowance (AJPA) by the government. AJPA allowance is limited to 66 days a year (22 per month). For an employee living as a couple, the daily pay is €43.83 (€52.08 if single).
Employees are entitled to time off, paid by the employer, in the following life events:
- Death of a child: 7 days when the child is aged under 25 or is a parent
- Death of a partner: 3 days
- Death of a close relative: 3 days
- Child accident or disability: 2 days.
- Family solidarity to be with a loved one at the end of their life. A CBA or the employment agreement will determine the specifics, however, family solidarity is capped at three months (renewable ones with the compensation optional). Social security allowance of €56.27 per day
Employees are entitled to take additional time off, paid by the employer, for the following life events:
- Birth or adoption of a child: 3 days
- Wedding or civil union: 4 days
- Child's wedding: 1 day
The collective bargaining agreement can provide additional days to those specified by law and outlined above.
Business creation leave
Employees starting or taking over a business are entitled to take unpaid leave or go part-time to take care of their business. The leave lasts for up to one year and can be renewed once. To be eligible, the employee must have been with the company for at least 24 months.
The employee must request the leave two months in advance. Employers have the right to postpone (up to 6 months if the leave is detrimental to the company) or refuse it (if employing less than 300 employees and the leave will harm the company's operations). If the employer doesn't respond within 30 days, the leave is considered granted.
Employees who have been working for the same company for at least 36 months (and six years for their entire professional career) can request an unpaid sabbatical leave. The leave may last between 6 and 11 months, and the request must be submitted three months in advance.
Employers may postpone it for up to 9 months or refuse it if they employ less than 300 people and can prove that the employee's absence would impact business operations. During the leave, the employment contract is suspended.