Last updated on: May 3rd, 2022
The Labor Law in France is regulated mainly by the Labor Code (Code du Travail) of 2016 (amended as of 2021). The Labor Code governs the terms and conditions of employment such as working hours, holidays and rest periods, wages, overtime, and employment relationships. The employment relationship is also governed by an array of collective bargaining agreements and judicial precedents.
Hours & Pay Regulations
An employee is entitled to a leave of 2.5 working days per month of actual work with the same employer with a maximum of 30 working days. Periods equivalent to 4 weeks or 24 working days are considered to be a month of actual work for the purpose of determining the duration of the leave.
The following are considered to be periods of actual work for the purpose of determining the duration of the leave – Periods of paid leave, period of maternity, paternity and child care and adoption leave, compulsory compensation in the form of rest provided for overtime work, days of rest granted under a collective agreement for overtime work, the periods within the limit of an uninterrupted period of one year, during which the employment contract is suspended due to accident at work or an occupational disease, the periods during which an employee is maintained or recalled to national service for any reason.
In case, the number of working days is not a whole number, the duration of the leave is increased to the next higher whole number.
Employees under the age of 21 on April 30 of the previous year are entitled to 2 additional days of leave per dependent child. This leave is reduced to 1 day if the statutory leave does not exceed 6 days. A dependent child is a child who lives at the home and is under the age of 15 on April 30 of the current year and any child without age condition when he lives at the home and is with disabilities.
The annual leave may be increased due to age or seniority in accordance with conditions determined by agreement or collective labor agreement.
Taking of Leave
The annual leave must be taken during the periods from May 1 to October 31 (Reference period) of each year. The duration of the leave which may be taken at one time may not exceed 24 working days. This limit may be waived for employees who justify specific geographic constraints or the presence in the household of a child or, a disabled adult or an elderly person with loss of autonomy.
Annual leave of less than 12 continuous working days must be taken in one period. In case, the main annual leave is longer than 12 working days, it may be split with the employee’s agreement. One of the fractions of leave must be equal to 12 continuous working days including between 2 days of weekly rest.
The employee is entitled to 1/10th of the gross wage received over the reference period. In determining the annual leave pay, the ancillary benefits and benefits in kind which the employee would not be able to receive during the duration of their leave period shall be taken into consideration. However, this does not affect either the contractual stipulations or the practices which provide for a higher amount of leave allowance.
Termination of Employment
In case of termination of employment, the employee shall be entitled to receive compulsory leave allowance for the amount of annual leave not taken by the employee. This is also applicable to the beneficiaries of the employee whose death occurs before they could not take their annual leave. Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L3141-1 to L3141-33.
Effective May 1, 2022, the minimum hourly gross wage is €10.85.
The minimum wage given above is subject to change and might not be up to date. Kindly access the link to get the current rates.
Employees are entitled to the initial duration of parental leave of 1 year, which may be extended until the child’s 3rd birthday. Both parents may take the parental leave either simultaneously or alternately. An employer may not refuse a request for parental leave, provided that the employee has at least 1 year of service with the employer on the date of birth or arrival of the child in case of adoption. However, during parental leave, the parent on leave is compensated by Social Security.
An employee is also entitled to parental leave if their child is suffering from an illness, a disability, or had an accident of a particularly serious nature, requiring the employee’s presence and care. Such leave can be granted for a maximum of 310 working days over a period of 3 years. In such cases, the employees are entitled to a daily parental allowance paid by the Family Allowance Fund.
Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L1225-62 – L1225-65.
Employees are entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave. An employee can take 6 weeks of leave before the birth of the child and 10 weeks after giving birth. an employee must take 8 weeks of maternity leave of which at least 6 weeks must be taken after childbirth.
Maternity leave can be extended on medical grounds related to pregnancy by a maximum of 2 weeks before and 4 weeks after the birth of the child. In the case of third and subsequent children (if the employee already has two or more children), the duration of leave is extended to 8 weeks before and 18 weeks after the expected date of childbirth. In the case of twins, prenatal leave is extended to 12 weeks while the postnatal leave is 22 weeks, making the total duration of the leave 34 weeks.
For multiple births (more than 2 children at the same time), prenatal leave is extended to 24 weeks and post-natal leave to 22 weeks, making the total duration of leave 46 weeks. When the childbirth occurs before the expected date, the maternity leave may be extended until the end, as the case may be, of the 16, 26, 34, or 46 weeks of maternity leave to which the employee is entitled to.
Pay – During the term of maternity leave (16 weeks in general cases; 26 weeks for the third and subsequent children; 34 weeks for twin births and 46 weeks for triplet or more births), employees are paid a maternity allowance which is equal to the average daily wage (100%) of 3 month period preceding pre-natal leave up to the quarterly social security maximum limit after deduction of employee’s share of statutory social security contributions and taxes. Maternity leave results in no reduction in pay and is treated as the actual working period for determining the duration of paid leave and for contractual rights acquired by the employee in respect of service in the organization.
Breastfeeding Break – During one year following the date of birth, mothers are entitled to paid breastfeeding breaks of 1 hour per day during working hours. Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L1225-1 to L1225-34.
The father of the child is entitled to 28 days in case of birth of a single child and 32 days in case of multiple births. The 28 days of paternity leave breakdown is as follows:
- 7 calendar days must be taken immediately upon the birth of the child (corresponding to 3 days of birth leave and 4 days of paternity leave).
- 21 days can be taken in 2 periods of a minimum duration of 5 days each.
In the event of multiple births, the 32 days of paternity leave breakdown is as follows:
- 25 days can be taken in three periods of a minimum duration of 5 days each.
Paternity leaves can be taken within 6 months after the child’s birth. Paternity leave may be postponed beyond 6 months in the case of child’s hospitalization in which case the leave may be taken within 6 months after the end of hospitalization. The leave can also be postponed in the event of the death of the mother, in which case, the leave is taken within 6 months after the end of leave granted to the father (10 weeks leave is available to a father on the death of a newborn’s mother).
Pay – To be compensated for the leave, employees must take the paternity leave within the 6 months time frame. In addition, the employee must have worked at least 150 hours during the 3 months preceding the start of the leave (or have contributed on a salary at least equivalent to 10,403.75 euros during the last 6 months preceding the start of the leave). The first 3 days are paid by the employer and the rest of the leave is paid by Social Security. Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L1225-35 to L1225-36.
The employee is entitled to adoption leave for a period of 16 weeks at most from the date of arrival of the child at home. This leave may begin before the arrival of the child by a maximum of 7 consecutive days. Adoption leave is increased to 18 weeks when after the adoption of a child(ren), the total number of children becomes 3 or more who are under the employee’s care. The duration increases to 22 weeks in the event of multiple adoptions.
When the duration of the adoption leave is divided between the two parents, the adoption of a child by a salaried couple gives rise to the right to 25 additional days of adoption leave or to 32 days in the event of multiple adoptions. The duration of the leave may only be split into two periods, the shortest of which is at least equal to 25 days. The leave taken by the parents in such cases can be simultaneous.
Pay – The employee is remunerated for the adoption leave by Social Security. Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L1225-37 – L1225-41.
An employee who sets up or takes over a business is entitled to either a leave of absence, during which time the employment agreement is suspended, or to part-time employment, each for a period of one year. The one-year business creation leave may be extended for one additional year. To benefit from this leave of absence, employees must have at least 24 months’ service with their employer. Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L3142-105 to L3142-124.
Employees with at least 2 years’ service (whether successive or not) are permitted, with their employer’s consent, to work for a different company for a fixed period. During this time, their original employment contract is suspended. The employee may notify the original employer that he or she wishes to return at any time during the mobility leave. The remuneration for the leave is paid by Social Security. Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L1237-18 – L1237-18-5.
An employee, in the event of the death of a child under the age of 25 or of a person under the age of 25in employee’s effective and permanent charge, shall be entitled to bereavement leave of 8 days which may be divided under the conditions as may be provided for by decree. The leave can be taken within 1 year of the child’s death. The allowance for the leave is paid by Social Security. Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L3142-1-1.
The employee whose ascendant, a descendant, a brother, a sister, or a person sharing the same domicile suffers from a life-threatening disease or is in the advanced or terminal phase of a serious and incurable disease is entitled to a family solidarity leave. In the absence of any convention or agreement, the maximum duration of the leave is 3 months, renewable once. The conditions for splitting the leave and its transformation into a period of part-time activity are defined by decree. Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L3142-6 – L3142-15.
The employee is entitled, upon justification, to leave for the following purposes. A company collective agreement or agreement or, a branch agreement or agreement determines the duration of each of the leaves mentioned above, which may not be less than:
- 4 days for marriage or for the conclusion of a civil solidarity pact;
- 1 day for the marriage of a child;
- 3 days, for each birth. This period of leave begins to run, at the employee’s choice, on the day of the birth of the child or on the first working day that follows;
- 3 days for the arrival of a child placed for adoption;
- 5 days for the death of a child or seven working days when the child is under the age of twenty-five and regardless of his age if the deceased child was himself a parent or in the event of the death of a child. a person under the age of twenty-five in his effective and permanent charge;
- 3 days for the death of the spouse, the partner bound by a civil solidarity pact, the partner, the father, the mother, the stepfather, the stepmother, a brother or a sister ;
- 2 days for the announcement of the occurrence of a handicap in a child.
- 2 days for the announcement of the occurrence of a disability, a chronic pathology requiring therapeutic training, or cancer in a child.
The days of leave mentioned in the above section are working days. Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L3142-1 – L3142-4.
The employee is entitled to a caregiver leave when one of the following people has a handicap or a particularly serious loss of autonomy – spouse, partner, partner bound by a civil solidarity pact, an ascendant, a descendant, a child for whom the employee is responsible, collateral up to a fourth-degree, an ascendant, a descendant or collateral up to the fourth degree of his spouse, cohabiting partner or partner or partner bound by a civil solidarity pact, an elderly or disabled person with whom he resides or with whom he maintains close and stable links, to whom he helps regularly and frequently on a non-professional basis, to accomplish all or part of the acts or activities of daily life.
The person assisting must reside in France in a stable and regular manner and may not exceed, including renewal, the duration of 1 year for the entire career. In the event of a sudden deterioration in the state of health of the person being helped, a crisis situation requiring urgent action by the caregiver, or the abrupt end of the accommodation in an establishment from which the person being assisted was benefiting, the leave begins or can be renewed without delay. The employee may terminate the leave early or waive it in the following cases:
- Death of the person assisted;
- Admission to an establishment of the assisted person;
- Significant decrease in employee resources;
- Use of a home help service to assist the person being helped;
- Caregiver leaves taken by another family member.
The employee can, with the agreement of the employer, transform this leave into a period of part-time activity or split it. Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L3142-16 to L3142-27).
Employees are entitled to paid sick leave, however, the labor legislation does not provide a specific number of days to be provided as sick leave, rather an employee can be absent from work whenever they are sick and is able to produce a doctor’s certificate/note to justify such absence.
In case of illness which requires an employee’s absence from work shall be accompanied by a medical certificate from a doctor which shall be forwarded to the Social Security and the employer within 48 hours of the original medical appointment with the doctor for the purpose of receiving payment during sick leave.
During the term of sick leave, an employee may be paid through social security, employee’s provident fund, and sometimes from the employer. The general principle is that an employee with at least 1 year of service with the organization is entitled to paid sick leave in the event of sickness and availability of a sick leave certificate. The period for which an employee is paid during sick leave varies according to the employee’s period of employment with the organization and the total duration of absence.
The sickness benefit is paid for a period of up to 6 months if the insured employee has at least 200 hours of employment in the last 3 months. It is payable for more than 6 months but less than 3 years, in case the employee has at least 800 hours of employment in the last 12 months.
Pay – The daily sickness benefit is payable from the 4th day of absence from work. It is equal to 50% of the daily wage of the last 3 months during the first 30 days of sickness. From the 31st day of absence, the daily sickness benefit for employees with 3 or more dependent children is 66.67% of the daily wage. The daily sickness benefit is paid up to 360 days in a 3 year period. In the case of chronic/serious and prolonged illness, the total payment period is 3 years. Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L1226-1 to L1226-24.
The employee is entitled to a sabbatical leave during which the employee’s employment contract is suspended. In the absence of any convention or agreement, the minimum duration of leave is 6 months and its maximum duration is 11 months. The qualifying condition for such leave is that the employee must have at least 36 months of service with the employer consecutive or not. Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L3142-28 to L3142-35.
In case, an employee is designated to sit on a commission, a council, or an administrative or joint committee called upon to deal with employment and training problems, the employer shall grant the time necessary to participate in the meetings of these bodies.
The list of these bodies is fixed by interministerial decree. When an employee is appointed to participate in a jury for examining or validating acquired experience, the employer grants the employee such leave to take part in this jury. The leave is paid by the employer. Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L3142-42 to L3142-47.
The employee residing or usually employed in an area affected by a natural disaster is entitled to leave, taken on one or more occasions, to participate in the activities of organizations providing aid to victims of natural disasters. In the absence of an agreement, the maximum duration of leave is 20 days per year. Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L3142-48 to L3142-53.
Employees under the age of 25 who wish to participate in the activities of youth and popular education organizations and sports federations and associations approved by the administrative authority intended to promote the preparation and training or improvement of executives and leaders are entitled, each year, to a training leave, which may be taken once or twice at the request of the beneficiary.
In the absence of any convention or agreement, the maximum total number of days that may be taken as leave is 6 working days per year. Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L3142-54 to L3142-59.
The employee has the right to benefit, upon justification, from a leave of absence to attend their own ceremony of welcoming French citizenship. In the absence of an agreement, the duration of the leave is half a day. Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L3142-75 to L3142-78.
The employer can provide the employee leave for the time necessary to participate in the electoral campaign for the candidature of the National Assembly or the Senate, within the limit of 20 working days. The same right is granted, on request, within the limit of 10 working days to the candidate employee in the following cases:
- To the European Parliament;
- To the municipal council;
- To the departmental council or the regional council;
- To the Corsican Assembly;
- To the council of the metropolis of Lyon.
Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L3142-79 to L3142-88.
Any employee who has made a commitment to serve in the operational reserve is granted an 8-day absence authorization per calendar year for activities in the reserve. However, for organizations with less than 250 employees, the employer can decide, in order to keep the company running smoothly, to limit the leave duration to 5 days. Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L3142-89 to L3142-101.
An employee who wishes to provide technological, professional, or higher education in initial or continuing education full time or part-time has the right to either leave or to a period of part-time work. In the absence of the agreement, the maximum duration of the leave or the period of part-time work is 1 year. This period can be extended at the employee’s request by agreement with the employer.
The length of service required to give entitlement to leave or to a part-time work period is 1 year if the employer agrees and 24 months, consecutive or not, in the company in case of disagreement. Labor Code, 2016 (amended as of 2021), Art. L3142-125 to L3142-130.