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France: Substantial increases to paternity and parental leaves proposed

Health and Benefits|Total Rewards|Integrated Wellbeing
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By Khalil Aït-Mouloud | October 27, 2020

France proposes to double paid paternity leave and require fathers to take parental leave to reduce gender inequalities in the workforce.

Employer Action Code: Monitor

The government has announced its intent to increase paid paternity leave to 28 working days, doubling the current entitlement and fulfilling a long-standing campaign promise of the Macron administration. A concurrent proposal, Proposition 3290 (Proposition de Loi), which has already been submitted to the National Assembly, would provide for 12 weeks of paid parental leave funded by social security. The proposals are intended to encourage men to take longer leaves for the care of their children and reduce gender disparities on parenting in the workforce. The measures appear to be in response, in part, to a recent report by a government commission on the first 1,000 days of a child’s development, starting from the fourth month of fetal development through the child’s second birthday, and those measures the government should consider to further support parents. The report Les 1000 premiers jours is available to download (in French).

Key details

  • New fathers would be entitled to a total of 28 working days of leave. Employers would continue to pay for the first three days (congé de naissance), after which social security would provide pay replacement for an additional 25 days (congé de paternité). Seven of the 28 days would be compulsory. Social security benefit rates would be unchanged and aligned with maternity benefits.
  • Parental leave would be 12 consecutive weeks (13 in the event of multiple births) of which at least eight weeks would be mandatory. Either parent would be eligible to take leave. The proposition does not specify benefit eligibility requirements or the level of pay-replacement benefits to be provided by social security. Currently, parents may take one year of leave per child (renewable between two and five times depending on the total number of children), but social security only provides a fairly modest monthly cash allowance (prestation partagée d'éducation de l'enfant). There is no current, or proposed, requirement for employers to provide paid parental leave.

Employer implications

Both of the proposed changes are currently under development with the full details not expected until early 2021, although both are to be included in the 2021 Social Security Finance Bill. Among other aspects that remain to be clarified is the financing of the benefit. Proposition 3290 indicates that a new tax would be introduced to finance parental leave but doesn’t provide further details. It’s estimated that the enhanced leaves would cost social security an additional 500 million euros annually. Employers should continue to monitor the situation as further developments arise. Among employers surveyed in 2019, only 3% provide paternity or maternity benefits in excess of statutory requirements (topping up pay and/or providing for longer leaves); 1% offer enhanced parental leave.

Contact

Khalil Aït-Mouloud
Associate Director, Rewards Data & Software Country Leader – France

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