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Published: July 25, 2023

Maternity and Paternity Leave France: A Comprehensive Overview

Maternity and Paternity leave in France is a complex and nuanced leave entitlement type regulated by the French Legal Code. Learn the ins and outs of navigating maternity and paternity leave in France with this comprehensive guide.

Key Takeways

  • Maternity and Paternity leave is well supported by French legislation, with both mothers and fathers entitled to parental leave following the birth of a child.
  • French Legislation protects the rights of expectant mothers and fathers. Employers must adhere to government-regulated workplace conditions and prohibit workplace discrimination against pregnant employees.
  • France fairs well compared to other countries globally in terms of maternity and paternity leave policies enabling mothers and fathers to take paid leave following the birth of a child.

Everything You Need to Know About Paternal Leave in France

Parental leave in France is a leave policy designed by the French government to allow parents (either the mother, the father, or both) to take time off from work to care for their young child during their most formative stages of life. Known as “Conge Parentale”, parental leave gives parents a chance to bond with their newborn child and support their early development, while balancing work and family duties.

Parental leave can be taken by either parent and France provides two provisions for this leave type based on the number of children in the family.

  1. Parents can apply for parental leave until a child is 3 years old, in families where there is only one child.
  2. Parents can apply for parental leave until a child is 4,5 years old, in families where there are two or more children.

What is Maternity Leave in France?

Known as “Conge maternite’, maternity leave in France is parental leave granted to expectant mothers following the birth of a child. The importance of a mother spending quality time with a newborn baby in its first few months is well understood in France, which is why it is customary to offer 16 weeks of postnatal leave, broken down into two phases: 6 weeks prior to the birth and 10 weeks post the birth. Mothers expecting their third child can enjoy 26 weeks of postnatal leave, mothers expecting twins are granted a total of 34 weeks of postnatal leave and in the case of a mother expecting triplets a total of 46 weeks of postnatal leave can be taken.

Most expectant mothers, whether employed part time, full time or considered as temporary staff, can expect to benefit from maternity leave. To claim maternity leave, all expectant mothers need to obtain is a medical certificate confirming the pregnancy as well as confirmation of the expected due date.

Two important considerations about Maternity Leave in France:

1. Maternity benefits and compensation: The French Government ensures that expectant mothers are well supported during their Maternity leave period, by providing a variety of maternity benefits and compensation which are designed to ease the burden of financial stress.

2. Rights and protection of pregnant employees: French legislation protects the rights of pregnant employees by ensuring that employers adhere to specific conditions for pregnant employees which includes providing a safe and secure working environment. Discrimination against pregnant employees is also strictly prohibited.

Mother and Father holding baby during parental leave

What is Paternity Leave in France?

Known as “Conge paternite”, paternity leave in France is leave granted to expectant fathers irrespective of their marital status.

In 2020, the French government made changes to paternity legislation, recognising the important role that fathers play in society. With this change, paternity leave was adjusted from 14 calendar days to 28 calendar days, including 3 days of paternity leave following the birth of a child. Where multiple children are concerned, expectant fathers can expect an additional 7 days of leave, taking the total to 32 calendar days. In order to be eligible for this paternity leave, fathers must meet two simple criteria.

1. Registration with the French Social Security System: In order to be considered eligible for Paternity leave Expectant fathers should be registered with the French social security system for a minimum of 10 months and should be able to prove that they have worked for a minimum of 150 hours prior to requesting parental leave. Where intermittent work is concerned, expectant fathers will need to prove at least 600 hours have been worked prior to the leave period. In order to claim this type of leave, expectant fathers need to adhere to a few rules:

  • According to French legislation, childbirth leave begins the day after a child is born and new fathers should take 4 calendar days of leave directly following their three-day childbirth leave. 
  • The remaining 21 days can be taken in two parts, each with a minimum of 5 days and should be taken within 6 months of the child’s birth.

2. Presence at the birth: Expectant Fathers should be present at the birth of their child to be considered for Paternity leave.

What is Shared Parental Leave in France?

Shared parental leave is a leave type that grants both parents the entitlement to take time off from work to care for a new child. All parents in France have the right to shared parental leave, irrespective of whether they are married or not. 

Shared parental leave in France is regulated by the French Labour Code and parents are entitled to a total of 16 weeks of leave, which can either be taken consecutively or concurrently. The leave can also be split in any way that works for the parents, but each parent is expected take at least 2 weeks of leave.

Parental leave is paid at a rate of 80% of the parent’s salary, up to a maximum of €3,377 per month.

Benefits of shared parental leave for employees & employers

There are many benefits to shared parental leave for both parents and employers. For parents, shared parental leave can help to:

  • Improve the bonding experience between parents and their child.
  • Reduce the financial burden of childcare.
  • Provide parents increased flexibility to manage their work and family responsibilities.

For employers, shared parental leave can help to:

  • Help to attract and retain top talent. Employees that feel supported are more likely to stay with a company.
  • Promote a more family-friendly workplace culture.

4 Ways Employers are Expected to Support Parents-to-be in France 

  1. Granting the right to leave: Employers are required to grant parental leave in accordance with French legislation, to ensure that leave periods granted are adequate and that correct procedure is followed. It is also the responsibility of the employer to ensure that employees feel supported and are not discriminated against when applying for parental leave.

2. Salary payment and additional support: Employers are required to pay employees their regular salary during the leave, up to the maximum amount specified by law. In addition to their legal obligations, employers can also choose to offer additional support to employees who are taking shared parental leave. This could include providing financial assistance, flexible work arrangements, or access to childcare services.

3. Company Policies and Additional Benefits: In addition to legal obligations, some companies in France offer additional benefits to employees who take shared parental leave. These benefits could include:

  • Paid time off for parents to attend doctor’s appointments or other childcare-related activities
  • Relocation assistance for parents who need to move to be closer to family or childcare
  • On-site childcare facilities

4. Supportive Workplace Culture and Initiatives: A supportive workplace culture is critical for ensuring shared parental leave is a success. This means creating an environment where employees feel comfortable taking leave and where they are not discriminated against for doing so.

With extensive knowledge on French Labour regulations, Playroll can support your employee hiring plans in France. Visit our French Hiring Guide.

4 Tips for Navigating Maternity and Paternity Leave in France with ease

1. Begin early discussions with your employer: Begin conversations about parental leave with your employer as soon as possible to allow them to plan for a smooth transition in your absence.

2. Create a leave plan: Develop a clear leave plan outlining the start and end dates, as well as any flexibility you may need during this period. Communicate this plan to your employer and colleagues, fostering a supportive and understanding work environment.

3. Research Parental Resources: France offers a variety of support networks and resources for expectant parents. Connect with other parents through local community programs, workshops, and online platforms. These resources can offer valuable insights and guidance throughout your journey.

4. Stay Educated: Keep in-the-know about any modifications to governmental regulations regarding parental leave policies or benefits to ensure you are well equipped to make informed decisions.

Parental Leave: Comparing France with Global Standards

Maternity leave compared to the US

In comparison to France, where expectant mothers are offered 16 weeks of maternity leave, the USA offers a relatively short maternity leave policy and US Federal Law does not offer expectant mothers access to paid maternity leave.

Paternity leave compared to the UK

When comparing Paternity leave in France to that of the UK, France pales in comparison. While expectant fathers in France are entitled to 11 days of paternity leave, expectant fathers in the UK are entitled to two weeks, however the UK also offers fathers the added benefit of shared parental leave with an entitlement of up to 50 weeks between the two parents.

Similarities and differences to other countries

  • Paid vs. unpaid leave: Countries like France, Sweden and Norway offer expectant parents paid parental leave.
  • Duration of leave: With its 16-week maternity leave and 11 days paternity leave entitlement, France ranks highly compared with other countries globally. Scandinavian countries however offer several months of parental leave, often leading the way in terms of leave duration.
  • Gender equality and parental involvement: Countries like the UK and France promote gender equality in terms of shared parental responsibilities by encouraging expectant fathers to take paternity leave. There are also countries like Sweden for example, that promote shared parental leave with leave policies that advocate shared involvement from both parents.
  • Parental support: While France does not make the list, there are countries that offer parents additional support that includes flexible work arrangements and childcare benefits making the transition to parenthood easier.

Compared with other countries, France is fairly liberal in its stance towards maternity and paternity leave. With leave policies that promote active involvement from both parents and legislation that protects expectant mothers and fathers in the workplace, France certainly advocates for the rights of new parents.

How Playroll Can Help You Navigate the Intricacies of Parental Leave in France

Legislation around parental leave in France is a complex topic with a variety of nuances to consider. Leave types, duration and benefits differ significantly for mothers and fathers and without extensive knowledge on the topic, navigating parent leave compliantly in France can be a complex undertaking. 

Playroll is a global Employer of Record Platform that expertly helps businesses navigate the complexities of parental leave in France. With a deep understanding of French labour law, Playroll takes care of all the legalities surrounding parental leave on your behalf, ensuring your business remains fully compliant with French regulation.

Playroll’s user-friendly platform also simplifies the hiring process, making it effortless for businesses to identify and recruit top-tier talent in the competitive French job market. Through its efficient payroll management system, it ensures accurate and timely payments, supporting positive employer-employee relationships and offers a variety of tools and resources to effectively streamline workforce management, including performance tracking to employee benefits management. 

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France Parental Leave FAQs

Who is entitled to parental leave in France?

In France, both expectant mothers and fathers are entitled to paid maternity and paternity leave, enabling parents to be there for their children in their most formative stages.

Is there paternity leave in France?

Yes, paternity leave is a well recognised leave type in France, regulated by the French Legal Code.

When did paternity leave start in France?

Paternity leave was first implemented in France in 2002 as a three-day leave entitlement for fathers to bond with their newborns. In 2021, France extended paternity leave to 25 days, including four days of compulsory leave taken immediately after childbirth and 21 days that fathers can take within six months of the birth.

Who pays for paternity leave in France?

The French Social Security System is responsible for paying Parental leave.

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