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Your guide to paternity leave in France

Fathers living in France have the right to one month of paternity leave. Read on to discover the details about parental leave for new dads and secondary caregivers following the birth of their child.

5 min read

As of July 1, 2021, fathers living in France have the right to roughly one month of paternity leave. Read on to discover all the details about parental leave for new dads and secondary caregivers following the birth or arrival of their child.

What is paternity leave?

Paternity leave is for employed fathers, regardless of whether they live with the child’s other parent or act as a co-parent. It’s also available to employed spouses, including common-law partners, civil partners, or those living in a conjugal relationship with the mother or primary parent, even if they’re not biologically related to the child. Paternity leave is available in equal measure to same-sex couples. Currently, less than 70% of fathers use their paternity leave.

Paternity leave has been around in France since 2002—an addition to the three-day childbirth leave, which was already in place. Initially, paternity leave lasted 11 calendar days, including weekends and public holidays. Maternity leave (add link), on the other hand, has been in place since 1909.

The right to paternity leave is the same for all employed fathers or second parents, regardless of their years of service at the company or the type of contract they’re employed under (permanent or temporary, interim, etc.). 

However, to access paternity leave, you need to have been registered with the French social security system for at least 10 months and be able to prove that you’ve worked at least 150 hours in the three months preceding your leave. In the event of intermittent work, you’ll need to prove that you worked at least 600 hours in the year before your paternity leave is set to begin. 

How long is paternity leave?

Here, we have some great news. On July 1, 2021, France finalized a decision to extend paternity leave. Now, new fathers will benefit from 25 calendar days, or 28 days in total including your three-day childbirth leave. And if you have twins, your paternity leave is increased to 32 days.

However, it’s worth noting that there are a few rules you need to follow in order to access this time off work:

  • You are required to take 4 calendar days of leave directly following your three days of childbirth leave. Your childbirth leave begins the next working day after your child is born.
  • The remaining 21 days (or 28 days in the case of multiple children) can be split into two parts—with a minimum period of five days each—to be taken within six months of your child’s or children’s birth. In some cases, you can extend this period—for instance, if the child needs to be hospitalized.

It’s worth noting that the second 21-day leave, or 28-day respectively, is completely optional. It’s up to the parent to decide whether to take the leave, and if so, how many days they want to take.

Who pays for paternity leave?

Paternity leave isn’t paid for by your employer—rather, it’s covered by the French social security system. This means your employment contract will be suspended for the duration of your leave.

Daily allowances replace your full salary—up to a limit of €89.03 per day as of January 1, 2021. For self-employed workers, the limit drops to €56.35 per day, and €55.52 per day for spousal business partners.

Your daily allowance is calculated based on your wages over the last three months before the child’s birth, or the last 12 months if you were working intermittently.

Receiving pay for paternity leave

When it comes to receiving your paternity leave pay, your health insurance will transfer your daily allowance every 14 days. Also, it’s important to note that this payment is subject to income tax.

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Requesting paternity leave—how it works

Employees need to inform their employer of the expected due date of their child at least one month in advance. The same goes for the 21-day or 28-day secondary leave—your employer must be notified at least one month before your chosen dates.

Finally, in order to claim your benefits, you’ll need to send one of the following supporting documents to your organization:

  • A copy of your child’s birth certificate 
  • A copy of your (updated) family record book
  • A copy of your acte de reconnaissance du père, or the father’s deed of acknowledgment

If you aren’t the child’s biological father but are the mother or primary parent’s spouse, a copy of the child’s birth certificate should be sent along with one of the following documents:

  • A copy of your marriage certificate
  • A copy of your civil union contract (Pacs)
  • A certificate of cohabitation dating back less than one year, co-signed by the mother or primary parent

Everything you need to know about your paternity leave notice letter

The letter you send to your employer notifying them of your paternity leave must include the following information: the start and end date of your secondary paternity leave, and the total number of days to be taken. If you want to split your leave up, you’ll need to state the date ranges chosen.

You have the option to send your employer a registered letter with a signature upon receipt, a hand-delivered letter with signature upon receipt, or an email asking for acknowledgement of receipt. If you need some help getting started, you’ll find a standard paternity leave notice letter on the French public service website.

Employers are disallowed by law to refuse paternity or childcare leave.

How can you extend your paternity leave?

If your child is hospitalized, you can request extension of the compulsory three-day childbirth leave period during the hospitalization, with a limit of 30 days. Apart from that, paternity leave can’t be extended. That said, at the end of your paternity leave, you have the option to take parental leave for up to one year. However, the remuneration conditions there are different.

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