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France Leave Laws & Holidays for 2024

Paid Time Off (PTO), Vacation, Sick Leave, Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, Bereavement Leave, Jury Duty Leave, Military Leave, and Voting Leave

Table Of Contents

Paid Time Off (PTO) in France

Last updated on December 30, 2023.

Vacation Leave Quota (aka Annual Leave)

5 weeks (25 working days)

All employees are entitled to paid leave of 2.5 days for each month of actual work. This gives 5 full weeks, resulting in 25 days annually.

Nota Bene: By French calculation, this is actually 30 days of vacation, because Saturday is considered a working day in this calculation. For the purpose of counting vacation, working days are considered all days of the week, except Sundays and public holidays. Saturday is therefore considered a working day. Thus, a regular week has 6 working days, including Saturday. An employee who takes a whole week off, from Monday to Friday, will therefore be counted as taking six days off, even if he never works on Saturdays. The same system exists in Finland as well.

Public (national) holidays are in addition to this vacation entitlement (11 days per year).

France offers one of the most abundant vacation policy globally. France offers more days than Germany and far more when you compare it to leave laws in the United States or Canada. The only country that has similar vacation policy is the United Kingdom.

Eligibility

All employees

All employees and workers in France can take this vacation leave (Congés Payés) including: 

  • full-time and part-time employees
  • employees with all kinds of contracts (CDI, CDD, or contrat d’intérim)
  • regardless of their seniority, employment, qualifications, nature of compensation, and working hours. 

The part-time employee has the same rights as the full-time employee. Their vacation leave entitlement is calculated proportionately to the employee’s actual working time (on a pro-rata basis). 

Accrual rate

2.5 days per month

Employees start accruing paid vacation benefits from the moment they are hired (there is no waiting period). 

Employees receive 2.5 days of paid leave per month of actual work.  

However, these periods of actual work also include certain types of leave: paid holiday leave; maternity, paternity leave, adoption leave; leave to compensate for overtime; periods of military service; absences due to accidents at work, accident or occupational disease; leave for family reasons (marriage, miscarriage, birth, death of a family member); and training leave. During these periods, employees continue to accumulate their paid vacation leave.  

Other types of absences aren’t taken into account as actual work: sick leave, strikes, parental attendance leave, family solidarity leave, etc. 

In calculating, if the number of earned days is not a whole number, the number of days is rounded to the next whole higher number. For example, if an employee has worked 7 months during the year, he or she receives 2.5 x 7 = 17.5, rounded to 18 days of paid holiday. 

Accrual period

June 1 to May 31

The vacation benefits are accrued during the reference period (la période de référence) which goes from June 1st of the previous year to May 31st of the current year

Sometimes, completing an entire year of work is required before being eligible for vacation leave. On the other hand, an employer can be flexible and provide the vacation days “in advance” (par anticipation), before they are accrued. This is especially valuable for employees who have just started working and didn’t have time to acquire vacation days. 

Taking a Vacation Leave

Mostly in August

The time for taking a vacation may or may not spread throughout the year, but it must always include the legally mandated period between May 1 and October 31. During this period, an employee must take at least 12 days off. 

The longest period of leave is called main leave or master (congé principal). An employee is not allowed to take a main leave that lasts more than 24 consecutive working days (4 weeks). 

Typically, vacations are scheduled during August, which is considered a sacred month in France, resulting in an almost complete standstill of the country’s activities. Many firms may shut down officially, and numerous small businesses, eateries, and local service providers may be closed as well. 

If an employee falls ill while on vacation, they do not have the right to receive extra days off. 

Carry Over

Not allowed. The ‘use it or lose it’ policy is applied.

Typically, an employee is not able to carry over unused vacation into the following reference year. Thus, all unused days by 31st May will be lost (a “use it or lose it” approach). 

However, if there is an agreement between an employer and employees to carry unused vacation days to the following year, days not taken will not be lost. 

Payout of Vacation Leave

Paid by an employer

During the vacation leave, employees don’t receive their usual salary (their employment contract is suspended). Instead, they receive a vacation allowance. 

There are two methods of calculating a vacation allowance: 

  • The rule of maintenance of salary – employees receive a salary that they would receive if they worked normally. 
  • The 10th rule – employees are entitled to 1/10th of their total remuneration received over the reference period 

To calculate the employee’s compensation, employers need to decide which option benefits the employee more out of the two available choices. Usually, the 10th rule method is more generous to employees. 

Payment of Unused Vacation on Termination

An employer must pay all unused vacation days (vacation indemnity) unless termination was due to serious and gross misconduct. 

Sick Leave in France

Social Security pays a daily allowance that is 50% of the standard daily wage. 

According to labor laws, there is no set amount of days designated for sick leave. Instead, employees are permitted to take time off from work when they are ill, as long as they can provide a doctor’s certificate or note as proof of their absence. 

If an employee is unable to work due to health issues, it is important to inform their employer as soon as practicable, verbally or in writing (by telephone, email, SMS, the company leave management software, etc.). If there is no specific timeframe mentioned in their collective or company agreement, it is generally expected that they inform their employer within 48 hours of their sickness.  

Additionally, they should provide the employer with a medical certificate or note to validate their situation. They should also inform Social Security – CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurances Maladie) or MSA (Mutualité sociale agricole). 

Employees who follow this procedure will be entitled to a daily sickness allowance. This allowance is paid by the social security: CPAM or MSA. 

Daily allowances (les indemnités journalières) are 50% of the employee’s daily wage, but can’t exceed 50,58 € (from January 1st, 2023). 

The first 3 days are unpaid, employees begin receiving a daily allowance on the 4th day

Employees may receive additional pay; it depends on a collective or company agreement. 

Eligibility depends on whether sick leave lasts more than 6 months or less, but any sickness allowance requires at least 3 months’ service. 

Sick leave is called congé de maladie in French.

Payout 

Sick leave in France is paid by the social security system, not the employer. 

During the period of illness or injury, the work contract is suspended, as is the employer’s obligation to pay employees (unless stated by the collective bargaining agreement). Employees receive daily allowances from the Social Security System. 

Maternity, Paternity, Adoption, and Parental Leave in France

Maternity Leave (Congé de maternité

16 weeks paid by Social Security. 

Maternity leave in France lasts 16 weeks

  • prenatal leave – 6 weeks 
  • postnatal leave – 10 weeks 

A mother is entitled to 2 additional weeks of prenatal leave, and 4 additional weeks of postnatal leave in case of a pathological pregnancy or health complications. 

Mothers expecting their 3rd child are entitled to 26 weeks of maternity leave (8 + 18). 

Mothers expecting twins are entitled to 34 weeks of maternity leave (12 + 22). 

Mothers expecting triplets are entitled to 46 weeks of maternity leave (24 + 22). 

After maternity leave is over, employees will go back to their previous job, or a comparable job that pays the same. An employer is not allowed to dismiss employees during maternity leave, and 10 weeks after the end of maternity leave. 

Payout 

Maternity leave in France is not paid by the employer because the employment contract is suspended. An employee is entitled to a Daily Maternity Allowance which is paid by Social Security (CPAM), that is the average of their income over the 3 months before the maternity leave, limited at 95,22 euros (for 2023) per day. 

However, the majority of companies also have collective agreements that dictate the employer’s responsibility to continue paying the employee’s salary while they are on maternity leave. 

Paternity Leave (Congé Paternité

28 days

Paternity leave is 28 days of fully paid leave in the case of a single birth.  

Paternity leave starts with 3 days of leave when a child is born or adopted, during which their employer will pay their full salary. They can also take an additional 25 days of paternity leave, which will be paid by Social Security. In cases of multiple births, paternity leave is 32 days. 

This paid paternity leave policy is longer than most leave laws in Europe.

Paternity leave was increased to 28 days in 2021 (previously it was 14 days). The law is inclusive of the second parent in same-sex couples, whether they are male or female. 

Payout

First 3 days of paternity leave is paid by the employer.

Following 25 days are paid by Social Security.

The daily allowance paid by Social Security is capped at 95.22 euros, but the employer may choose to supplement it. 

Adoption Leave 

In France, an employee who adopts a child is entitled to adoption leave. The duration of the adoption leave depends on the age of the child and the number of children being adopted. 

During the adoption leave, the employee is entitled to a daily allowance paid by the Social Security system. The amount of the allowance is calculated based on the employee’s average daily salary. 

Parental Leave

At the end of maternity and paternity leave, parents have the option of taking unpaid parental leave or working part-time. This leave can last between 6 months and 3 years, depending on how many children there are in the family. Generally, the duration of parental leave is 1 year, but it can be prolonged until the child turns 3 years old, and both parents can share it. They can take leave at the same time or take turns. 

An employee is eligible if he/she has worked for at least 1 year before the date of their child’s birth, or before welcoming a child no older than 16 years to their home with a view to adoption. This right lasts until the child’s third birthday, unless the child was aged between three and 16 on arrival, in which case the adoptive parent can take one year’s parental leave from the date of arrival. 

During parental leave, the contract is suspended, so an employer is not required to pay employees, although parents can apply for allowances provided by Social Security. 

Parental Absence

Parental absence enables the employee to take care of a dependent child who has a health condition that demands constant attention and mandatory care. This leave can be given for up to 310 days for reasons related to child care or due to illness, injury, or disability. 

Bereavement Leave in France (Funeral Leave)

3 or 5 days.    

An employer is legally required to provide employees with paid bereavement leave, in the event of the death of a family member. 

The duration of the bereavement leave depends on the status of the deceased: 

  • Death of the spouse, civil partnership partner( partenaire de Pacs), or partner; father or mother; father or mother of the spouse; brother or sister: 3 days 
  • Death of a child: 5 days 
  • Death of a child under 25 years old or a child who is a parent himself: 7 days

If a child under the age of 25 dies, an employee can take an extra period of 8 days off from work in addition to the standard 7-day bereavement leave. 

Payout 

Bereavement leave in France is paid as if an employee had worked. 

Jury Duty Leave in France

Not specified by law.    

Military Leave in France

Not specified by law. 

Voting Leave in France

Not specified by law. 

Other Types of Leave in France

Sabbatical leave  

Sabbatical leave can last from a minimum of 6 months, up to 11 months. To be eligible for sabbatical leave, an employee must have worked for the company for more than 3 years and have at least 6 years of work experience (professional activity). This leave is unpaid. 

Paid Caregiver Leave provides employees with 3 months of paid leave to care for a family member or close friend. 

Leave for marriage or civil partnership 

The duration of the leave for a wedding or civil union is 4 days. This leave is paid as if an employee has worked. 

Leave for the wedding of an employee’s child 

This leave is for 1 day, and it is paid as if the employee had normally worked. 

Child disability leave 

An employee is entitled to take a leave of absence for a particular reason, such as a child’s chronic illness, disability, or cancer, regardless of their seniority status. The minimum duration of the leave is 2 days, and they will receive payment while on leave. 

Public Holidays in France for 2024

11 national holidays   

In France, there are 11 days that are considered public holidays, but only one of them, which is Labor Day on 1st May, is legally required to be a paid holiday. Nevertheless, many employers still offer paid time off for all public holidays because of the employment agreement or collective bargaining agreement. If an employee works on Labor Day, they are entitled to receive double pay for the day, whereas working on other public holidays does not usually result in a pay increase. 

Public holidays are called les jours fériés in French.

A complete list of official holidays celebrated in France in 2024:
Date Holiday French Name
January 1 New Year’s Day Nouvel An
April 1 Easter Monday (The Day After Easter) Lundi de Pâques
May 1 Labor Day Fête du Travail
May 8 Victory Day Fête de la Victoire
May 9 Ascension (40th day after Easter) Ascension
May 19 Whit Sunday (50th day after Easter) Lundi de Pentecôte
July 14 Bastille Day Fête nationale française
August 15 Assumption Assomption
November 1 All Saints’ Day Toussaint
November 11 Armistice Day Armistice
December 25 Christmas Day Noël

Sources

  1. Paid Leave – Calculation and payment of leave pay (Congé payés – Calcul et versement de l’indemnité de congés payés), https://www.coindusalarie.fr/calcul-conges-payes-avocat
  2. Paid Leave – Official site (Congés payés – Ministère de l’Intérieur), https://www.demarches.interieur.gouv.fr/particuliers/conges-payes
  3. Holidays paid for your employees in 5 questions (Les congés payés de vos salariés en 5 questions), https://www.economie.gouv.fr/entreprises/conges-payes
  4. Sick stop: steps to be taken for the employee – Official site, https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F303?lang=en
  5. Leave for the death of a family member, https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F2278?lang=en
  6. Payroll and Benefits Guide France, https://www.papayaglobal.com/countrypedia/country/france/

Check out our Leave Laws page to learn more about laws in various countries.

All materials have been prepared for general information purposes only to permit you to learn more about this region's leave laws. The information presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, and may not be current. Please contact your local legal counsel to learn more about the leave laws in your country.

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