Living and working conditions

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Working conditions

Leave (paid leave, parental leave, etc.)



All employees are entitled to paid leave once they have worked at least one month during the reference period (which runs from 1 June of the previous year to 31 May of the ongoing year).


Therefore, employees are entitled to two and a half working days of leave per month worked, i.e. five weeks of paid leave per year worked.


In principle, only the periods actually spent working are taken into account when calculating the entitlement to paid leave. Periods of absence from work are not counted. However, certain periods are regarded as periods actually worked (annual leave of the previous year, maternity leave, training leave, or sick leave) if the collective agreement specifies this.


Dates of paid leave are decided by mutual agreement between the employer and the employee, or, failing that, by the employer.



  • Sick leave: in order to receive daily sickness benefit, contributions must have been paid for 200 hours during the 3 months prior to the sick leave. On presentation of form E104, the periods for which contributions have been paid in another European country are taken into account.
  • Maternity leave: 16 weeks for one child (6 weeks before and 10 weeks after birth).
  • Paternity leave 11 consecutive calendar days in the event of a single birth and 18 days in case of multiple births, calculated from the child’s date of birth.  This leave can only be taken in one continuous period. It can be taken together with the three days of leave granted on the birth of a child.
  • Child-care leave: following maternity leave, in order to look after the child, either employed parent may ask for this leave. Maximum duration: 3 years.
  • Parental leave (to look after a child who is disabled, has suffered an accident or is seriously ill).
  • Individual training leave (congé individuel de formation, CIF): this cannot exceed one year. Continued part payment of the salary is guaranteed.
  • Sabbatical leave (on personal grounds): between 6 and 11 months.

Eligibility for some of these types of leave may be conditional upon the length of service in the company or the minimum contributions paid to the public social security scheme.




In France, 11 public holidays are provided for by law (Article L. 3133-1 of the Labour Code): 1 January, Easter Monday, 1 May (Labour Day), 8 May (End of the Second World War), Ascension Thursday, Whit Monday, 14 July (Bastille Day), 15 August (Assumption), 1 November (All Saints), 11 November (End of the First World War) and 25 December (Christmas Day).

Only 1 May is a guaranteed paid holiday. The other public holidays are, generally, only paid if they fall on an ordinary working day.


Are non-working public holidays compulsory?

An employee can work on public holidays. Non-working public holidays are set out in a company or institution agreement or, failing that, a branch convention or agreement. In the absence of an agreement, it is the employer who specifies non-working public holidays.

Only 1 May is compulsorily non-working for all employees; however, it is possible to work on 1 May in establishments and services that cannot interrupt their activity. Those provisions are public policy.

There may be other public holidays in a region or in particular departments. For example, in the departments of Moselle, Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin, the list of holidays and non-working days is laid down by Article L. 3134-16 of the Labour Code:
26 December - Good Friday

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Text last edited on: 10/2021