set of baby clothes.

Everything you need to know about maternity leave in France

Are you expecting a new addition to the family and want to know more about maternity leave in France? We’re bringing you up to speed on maternity leave in France.

6 min read

Are you expecting a new addition to the family and want to know more about maternity leave in France? From how long your leave can be to how much money you’ll be paid, and what you’ll need to do to claim your benefits, we’re bringing you up to speed on maternity leave in France in 2021.

What is maternity leave?

Maternity leave is a period of time off from work granted to expectant and new mothers. It allows them to stop working for a period of time during pregnancy and after the birth of their child, while still getting paid.

Maternity leave in France has been around since 1909. Back then, however, it wasn’t nearly as helpful to mothers as it is today—it only lasted eight weeks, and it was unpaid. Teachers were the first to receive maternity leave pay in 1919, with civil servants following in 1929. Other working women had to wait until 1979 to get maternity leave pay—a critical development given the costs involved in having a child.

Did you know: paternity leave has only existed in France since 2002?

How long does maternity leave last?

Since the enactment of the Veil Law of 1989, the length of maternity leave has been 16 weeks. It’s broken down like this:

  • 6 weeks of leave before you give birth
  • 10 weeks of leave after the child is born

If you’re expecting your third baby, maternity leave goes up to 26 weeks—eight weeks before you give birth, and 18 weeks during the postnatal period.

Are you pregnant with twins? In this case, your maternity leave will be 34 weeks in total—12 weeks before giving birth and 22 weeks after you’ve had your babies. Finally, if you’re expecting triplets, you’re entitled to 46 weeks of maternity leave—24 weeks before giving birth, and 22 weeks in the period after that.

Tip—you can request to carry over a portion of your prenatal leave into your postnatal leave, up to a maximum of three weeks. However, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before doing this.

In the event of a premature birth, your prenatal leave will be automatically carried over to your postnatal leave, with a limit of six weeks before your due date. If your baby is born more than six weeks before term, you could be entitled to additional benefits in the event that they need to spend time in the hospital.

Who pays maternity leave?

During your maternity leave, your employment contract will be suspended. However, as the mother, you’ll receive daily payments equivalent to 100% of your salary paid by the French Social Security. Here are the conditions you’ll need to meet to receive your payments: 

  • You’ve been registered with the French Social Security system for at least 10 months.
  • You’ve worked at least 150 hours in the last 3 months, or 600 hours in the last year if your work has been intermittent.

If you’re a working mother-to-be, you’ll just have to inform your employer that you’ll be taking maternity leave. Then, it’s up to them to share this information with the insurance provider.

Maternity leave is calculated based on the three salary payments preceding your maternity leave, or 12 months if your work has been intermittent. Daily payments are equivalent to your daily salary, with a cap of €89.03 per day. Payments are transferred every 14 days. The payments are subject to tax, and they also count toward your pension contributions.

If you’re receiving unemployment benefits, have received them in the last 12 months, or if you stopped working less than 12 months ago, you’re also entitled to maternity leave. In this case, you’ll need to send your health insurance provider copies of your last four payslips.

Maternity leave for freelancers in France—how does it work?

Are you self-employed? If so, you also have the right to claim maternity leave if you’ve been registered with your health insurance fund for at least 10 months before your due date. Your daily payments will be different, though.

As a freelancer, you can claim two different types of payments at the same time:

  • A flat-rate “maternal rest” (repos maternel) payment
  • Daily payments due to your work being interrupted

To receive this financial support, you’ll need to stop working for at least eight weeks, including the two weeks before your due date. These two payments are calculated based on your average annual turnover over the last three years. Tax allowances apply, depending on the sector you work in:

  • 71% for buy-sell activities
  • 50% for the commercial and trading services
  • 34% for private services

The total amount of your daily maternity leave payment is capped at €56.35 per day as of January 1, 2021. It’s important to note that if your average annual income for the past three years is less than €4,046.40, your payments will be 10% of the amount, or €5.635 per day.

The “maternal rest” payment is a flat-rate payment of €3,428 for the year 2021. Again, if your average annual income for the last three years is less than €4,046.40, the flat-rate payment is reduced to €342.80.

N26 for business

The 100% mobile bank for busy entrepreneurs. Get 0.1% cashback, a free Mastercard and more
Get a business bank account (new tab)
Hand holding a N26 business debit card.

Maternity leave for freelancers—how to claim your benefits

If you’re self-employed and about to become a mother, you’ll need to send your health insurance provider the following in order to receive the flat-rate maternal rest payment:

  • Your seven-month prenatal check-up sheet 
  • The birth certificate

Your payment will be made in two installments—before and after giving birth—once you’ve sent the relevant documents. To receive your daily maternity pay, you’ll need to send the following documents to your health insurance:

  • A signed declaration confirming your intention to cease your self-employed activity for the duration of your leave
  • A certificate of medical leave for at least 56 consecutive days, including 14 days to be taken before your due date

How to extend your maternity leave

It’s possible to extend your maternity leave in the following scenarios:

  • Due to a health problem on the mother’s side. In this case, a postnatal leave of up to four weeks extra can be granted, as long as a medical certificate is provided as proof.
  • When the birth is premature and occurs more than six weeks before your due date. Your leave will be extended by the number of days between the child’s birth and the start of your maternity leave.
  • If your newborn needs to stay in the hospital for more than six weeks. In this case, mothers are able to end their leave to return to work, should they choose, and resume maternity leave when the child leaves the hospital.

Do you want to continue to stay home with your child once your maternity leave is up? If you do, you can either take unpaid leave or parental leave, for a maximum of one year. Although this doesn’t give you the same financial benefits as maternity leave, you’ll still have access to state welfare benefits.

About to become a parent? Prepare for your child’s arrival with N26

With N26, you can manage your family budget in just a few taps on your mobile phone! Get smart money management features and instant notifications on every transaction you make. Our premium accounts give you access to Statistics to help track your spending, as well as a range of insurance policies. Finally, prepare for the baby's arrival with Spaces sub-accounts—virtual piggy banks that allow you to set aside money at your own pace, right alongside your main account.

By N26

Love your bank

Related posts

These might also interest you
Freelancers with iPads writing on a note-book.

What is annual salary?

What is it, really? How is it calculated? Learn about the different elements and compare annual salary to hourly rate.

A freelance accountant working on a desk.

What’s the difference between salary and hourly pay?

Trying to decide how you want to be paid? Weigh up the pros and cons to decide what’s best for you.

Two persons signing a document on a meeting.

How to negotiate salary: 10 tips for a better job offer

Wondering how to negotiate salary for a new job, or how to ask for a raise in your existing role? Read on to discover our 10 top tips for getting the salary you deserve.