In France, fathers of newborn infants were granted paid leave for the birth of a child 20 years ago; previously, the law entitled them only to three days’ leave financed by their employer.
Since 2002, fathers have been entitled to employer-funded paid time-off. Paternity and childcare leave applies to biological fathers, regardless of their family situation, or employees (“second parents”) who live with the mother of a newborn child whose biological father does not request such leave. During this period, the French social security system compensates the employee and his employment contract is suspended.
Paid Time Off
For the past 20 years, paternity leave was limited to 11 calendar days or 18 days for multiple births, while the three days of employer-funded leave remained unchanged. Effective July 1, 2021, paid time-off increased from 11 to 25 calendar days for a single birth on or after that date and from 18 to 32 days for multiple births.
The total leave includes two distinct periods:
- The father or second parent is required to take 4 calendar days of childcare leave immediately after the three days of employer-funded leave (per the pre-existing law) ;
- The father or second parent may take another 21 calendar days of childcare leave, which can be split into two periods of at least five days each.
Overcoming an Employer’s Opposition
Fathers and second parents of newborns do not automatically receive extended childcare leave. An employer can oppose a request on limited grounds.
Certain conditions must be met to prevent an employer from denying the time-off:
- The employee must have a valid fixed-term, indefinite, or temporary employment contract.
- The childcare leave must be taken within six months of the child’s birth, unless the period is extended due to the child’s hospitalization or the mother’s death (before July 1, 2021, the leave had to be taken within four months of the birth).
- At least one month before the start date of the leave, the employee must notify the employer in writing or orally, specifying the start and end dates of the leave. To establish proof of the request, the employee should send the employer a registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt (LRAR) or a letter delivered by hand against receipt.
French Social Security Requirements
The employee is not automatically entitled to social security payments for the extended childcare leave. The father or second parent must show:
- He has a national insurance number for at least ten months on the date the leave commences.
- He has worked at least 150 hours during the three months preceding the start of the leave (or has contributed to a salary of at least €10,728.55 during the six months before the start of the leave).
- He ceases all salaried activity, even if working for multiple employers.
If these conditions are satisfied, the French social security system pays the employee daily allowances, calculated by averaging the last three months’ wages. At the end of the leave period, the employee returns to his previous job (or a similar job with at least equivalent pay).
Protection From Termination
During a paternity or childcare leave, the employer may not dismiss the father or second parent. However, the employer may terminate the employment contract if it can prove the employee engaged in serious misconduct or if it is impossible to maintain the contract for a reason unrelated to the paternity and childcare leave.
If you are a soon-to-be father and have questions about paternity leave or any aspect of your employment, please contact me to discuss your situation.
Attorney at Law