This article will help you learn and know everything you must know about maternity and paternity leave in France.

If you have worked and paid the social security contributions in another European Union country, your period of work and contributions may be taken into account when calculating your benefits in France.

What Is Maternity Leave?

Maternity leave, also known as parental leave, refers to an employee’s temporary absence from work during, before, or after having a child. Historically, only expectant mothers were eligible for parental leave. However, many countries, including France, now provide mothers, fathers, and adoptive parents with parental leave, with different minimum leave times guaranteed for each group.

In What Situation Can I Claim?

Maternity and paternity benefits assist with the payment of pregnancy and birth-related costs, as well as the payment of services in cash during the mother’s pre- and postnatal leave periods, leave for adoption, and paternity leave.

What Conditions Do I Need To Meet?

To be eligible for care repayment, you must demonstrate the following:

  • a professional activity, or
  • a stable and lawful residence in France.

The right to cash payments is subject to the following conditions:

  • either to the payment of a certain amount of contributions;
  • Or to some hours of work during each reference period.

What Am I Entitled To, And How Do I Make A Claim?

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In-Kind Benefits (Repayment For Health Examinations)

The right to allowances is available under the same conditions as the right to sickness benefits.

Maternity insurance covers the following:

  • Compulsory pre-natal medical examinations, without the application of the co-payment rate and without the €1 flat rate contribution (only the first two ultrasound scans are supported at 70%);
  • The refundable medical costs from the first day of the sixth month of pregnancy until the 12th day after childbirth, excluding the co-payment rate.

You are also exempt from paying the €1 flat rate contribution and the medical franchise on drugs, paramedical interventions, and transportation after the sixth month.

Cash Benefits (Maternity And Paternity Leave)

  • You are paid in cash for medical expenses if you stop all forms of paid work.
  • You will also be paid for paternity leave if you are a father.

The daily leave allowance may be shared between the father and the mother during adoption.

To be eligible for the benefits mentioned, you must demonstrate:

  • the payment of contributions or a number of hours of work equivalent to those required for the award of cash health benefits (for a period of fewer than six months);
  • A 10-month enrollment at the expected date of childbirth or the child’s arrival in the household.

Duration Of Maternity Leave

  • You are entitled to 16 weeks of leave (in principle, six weeks before the expected date of childbirth and ten weeks after).
  • You must take at least eight weeks of leave (6 of which after childbirth).
  • In the event of a pathological pregnancy, you may be granted two additional weeks before childbirth and up to four weeks afterward if the birth causes health complications.
  • The amount of leave is increased to 26 weeks for the third child’s arrival and any subsequent children (8 pre-natal weeks and 18 postnatal weeks).
  • Pre-natal leave is extended to 12 weeks for twins and 24 weeks for multiple births in the case of multiple births.
  • The postnatal compensation period is set at 22 weeks for births of more than two children.
  • The duration of maternity leave is increased by the total number of days between the exact date of childbirth and six weeks before the expected date of birth if the premature birth occurs more than six weeks prior to the expected date of birth (with hospitalization of the child).

Paternity leave is granted for 25 days or 32 days in the case of multiple births.

The adoption leave is set at 16 weeks, or 22 weeks if more than one child is being adopted. People with at least two dependent children before adoption are eligible for the 18-week waiting period. If the parental leave is shared, the duration is increased by 25 days (single adoption) or 32 days (multiple adoptions).

The daily maternity, adoption, or paternity leave allowance is equal to the average income in the three months preceding the pre-natal leave, up to the social security quarterly limit (€10,284). The allowances are worth between €9.66 and €89.03 per day in January 2022.

Jargon Busters

  • A flat rate contribution is a payment made by the patient for a doctor’s consultation or treatment, radiological examinations, or laboratory analyses.

Co-payment rate: The insured person must pay a portion of the statutory consultation fees.

Know Your Rights

The links below provide additional information about your rights. These websites are not under the control of the European Commission and thus do not represent its views:

Commission publication and websites:

Who Do You Need To Contact?

On the dedicated page of the sickness benefits website, you can contact health insurance online or find the nearest primary health insurance fund to where you live.

Maternity Leave In France: Jumping Into Detail

Are you expecting a new family member and curious about maternity leave in France? We’re educating you on maternity leave in France.

Are you expecting a new family member and curious about maternity leave in France? We are bringing you up to speed on maternity leave in France. This will include everything from the length of your leave to the amount of money you’ll be paid and what you will need to do to claim your benefits.

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What Is Maternity Leave In France?

Maternity leave is a leave of absence granted to expectant and new mothers. It allows them to take time off work during their pregnancy and after the birth of their child while still being paid.

Maternity leave has existed in France since 1909. It wasn’t nearly as beneficial to mothers back then as it is now—it only lasted eight weeks and was unpaid. Teachers were the first to be paid for maternity leave in 1919, followed by civil servants in 1929. Other working women had to wait until 1979 to receive maternity leave pay, which was a critical advancement given the costs of having a child.

Did you know that paternity leave has only been available in France since 2002?

How Long Does Maternity Leave Last?

Maternity leave has been set at 16 weeks since the Veil Law was passed in 1989. It’s broken down as follows:

  • Six weeks of leave before you give birth
  • Ten weeks of leave after the child is born

If you’re expecting your third child, you can take up to 26 weeks of maternity leave—eight weeks before the birth and 18 weeks afterward.

Are you expecting twins? In this case, your maternity leave will last 34 weeks—12 weeks before giving birth and 22 weeks after your babies are born. Finally, if you’re expecting triplets, you’re entitled to 46 weeks of maternity leave—24 weeks before and 22 weeks after the birth.

You can request that a portion of your pre-natal leave be carried over into your postnatal leave, up to a maximum of three weeks. However, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor first.

If your baby is born prematurely, your pre-natal leave will be automatically carried over to your postnatal leave up to six weeks before your due date. If your baby is born more than six weeks before term, you may be entitled to additional benefits if they require hospitalization.

Who Pays Maternity Leave?

Your employment contract will be suspended during your maternity leave. However, as a mother, you will receive daily payments from the French Social Security equivalent to 100% of your salary. Here are the requirements you must meet in order to receive your payments:

  • You have been a member of the French Social Security system for at least ten months.
  • You’ve worked at least 150 hours in the last three months, or 600 hours if your work has been intermittent.

If you’re a working mother-to-be, you simply need to notify your boss that you’ll be taking maternity leave. It is then their responsibility to share this information with the insurance provider.

Maternity leave is calculated based on the three previous salary payments, or 12 months if your work has been intermittent. The daily payments are equal to your daily salary, up to a maximum of €89.03 per day. Payments are made every 14 days. The payments are taxable, and they count toward your pension contributions.

You are entitled to a maternity leave if you are receiving unemployment benefits, have received them in the last 12 months, or have stopped working less than 12 months ago. In this case, you must send copies of your last four pay stubs to your health insurance provider.

Maternity Leave For Freelancers In France—How Does It Work?

Do you work for yourself? If this is the case, you are also entitled to a maternity leave if you have been registered with your health insurance fund for at least ten months prior to your due date. Your daily payments, however, will be different.

You can claim two types of payments as a freelancer at the same time:

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

To qualify for this financial assistance, you must stop working for at least eight weeks, including the two weeks before your due date. These two payments are calculated based on your three-year average annual turnover. Tax breaks are available depending on your industry:

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

As of January 1, 2021, the total amount of your daily maternity leave payment is capped at €56.35 per day. It’s worth noting that if your average annual income over the last three years has been less than €4,046.40, your payments will be 10% of that amount or €5.635 per day.

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

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Maternity Leave For Freelancers—How To Claim Your Benefits

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

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

Once you’ve sent the necessary documents, your payment will be made in two installments—before and after you give birth. To receive your daily maternity pay, you must submit the following documents to your health insurance provider:

  • 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

You may be able to extend the maternity leave in the following circumstances:

  • Because of a health issue on the mother’s side, in this case, an additional four weeks of postnatal leave can be granted if a medical certificate is provided as proof.
  • When your baby is born prematurely, more than six weeks before your due date, the number of days between the child’s birth and the start of your maternity leave will be added to your leave.
  • Suppose your newborn requires hospitalization for more than six weeks. In this case, mothers can choose to return to work and resume maternity leave when their child is discharged from the hospital.

Do you want to stay at home with your child after your maternity leave ends? If you do, you can take either unpaid or parental leave for up to a year. Although it does not provide the same financial benefits as maternity leave, you will still be eligible for state welfare benefits.

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7 Facts You Must Know About Maternity Leave In France

Are you thinking about hiring in France? Maternity and paternity leave are two of the many minimum employee benefits available to French workers.

France provides generous options and protections, including guaranteed compensation and time off for employees who give birth or adopt a child. However, specific leave benefits may vary depending on various employee circumstances.

If your company intends to hire employees in France, here are seven facts to keep in mind when assessing your compliance with local parental leave regulations and entitlements.

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Seven Considerations For Parental Leave In France

Let’s look at some of the specifics of parental leave in France.

France Provides Both Maternity And Paternity Leave

Maternity leave regulations in France ensure that expectant mothers receive certain benefits when giving birth or adopting a child. According to the maternity leave policy:

  • Businesses in France provide employees with time off to get ready for, complete and recover from childbirth.
  • During their absence from work, the employee will be paid an agreed-upon wage.
  • The employee’s job will still be available when they return, as long as they follow all legal requirements.

However, birth or adoptive mothers are not the only French employees who are entitled to paid leave. In July 2021, a new law will also make paternity leave available to French fathers.

This inclusion is critical, and it provides a few key benefits to parents who are expecting a child:

  • It provides compensation to both parents while they adjust to their new routines.
  • Both parents are allowed to be present during the early stages of child-rearing under the law.
  • If the birth parent or pregnant woman has serious health problems during or after the birth, their partner can take care of the newborn while they recover.

Mothers are entitled to a minimum of 16 weeks, while fathers are entitled to 11 consecutive days for medical leave or 22 days in the case of a twin birth.

France’s Maternity And Paternity Leave Laws Are In Line With EU Standards

Because France is a member of the European Union (EU), French employees and employees working for French companies are entitled to the same maternity and paternity benefits as the rest of the EU.

The following are some highlights of EU parental leave laws:

  • Transferability. If an employee seeking leave benefits contributed to a national benefits program in another EU country before relocating to France, their specific circumstances would be taken into account in order to determine a fair and legal leave arrangement.
  • Eligibility. EU workers are eligible for parental leave if they were employed in the EU prior to the pregnancy or can demonstrate stable and lawful residence. EU citizens are only eligible for parental leave wages if they have paid into a social security program or worked a certain number of hours prior to the start of the leave.

Employees Are Entitled To Benefits In Kind

In France, benefits in kind refer to government-provided medical compensation. These are outlined in the maternity and paternity insurance policies in France.

These benefits compensate parents for the following expenses:

  • Any required medical examinations or procedures related to pregnancy
  • Costs incurred throughout the third trimester until the 12th day after childbirth
  • 70% of the cost of the first two ultrasound scans

Furthermore, parents are exempt from co-payments for medical services and the €1 minimum payment for medical services under France’s maternity and paternity health insurance policies. Parents are also exempt from paying pregnancy-related drug, paramedic, and transportation costs during the third trimester.

To qualify for maternity or paternity insurance, the mother’s medical provider must submit a pregnancy declaration by the end of the first trimester.

While French employers do not pay for benefits in kind, employees do contribute to insurance and social security programs through their employer via payroll taxes. As a result, employers must ensure that their employees contribute enough funds to cover legally protected leave.

During Maternity Or Paternity Leave, Employees Can Receive Cash Benefits

French citizens receive cash benefits during their maternity or paternity leaves, which come in two forms:

  • Reimbursements for medical costs that aren’t covered by maternity or paternity insurance
  • Wage payments during employee leave

While the French government reimburses medical expenses, employers must pay employees’ wages during parental leave. Employees must demonstrate one of the following to be eligible for cash benefits:

  • That their contributions to the French social security system are equal to the compensation they’ll receive during leave
  • Documentation of hours worked that equal their expected leave pay or leave duration

Employers may negotiate a parental leave salary agreement that benefits both parties if an employee does not meet the requirements for paid parental leave.

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Adoptive Parents Also Receive Maternity And Paternity Benefits

Adoptive parents in France are also entitled to paternity leave. The benefits are the same as for birth parents, but the minimum leave times differ:

  • If they adopt one child, adoptive mothers are entitled to ten weeks of paid leave.
  • Adoptive mothers who adopt more than one child are entitled to 22 weeks of paid leave.
  • If the father also requests adoptive leave, the duration is extended by 11 days if the couple adopts one child and 18 days if the couple adopts more than one child.

Furthermore, families with at least two dependent children are entitled to 18 weeks of paid parental leave before the adoption date.

While birth parents frequently use some of their leave time before their due date, all parents eligible for parental leave are free to use their time however they see fit. As a result, adoptive parents may begin their leave before their adoption date to prepare or use their entire leave after the adoption is completed.

French Mothers Can Receive Up To 26 Weeks Of Leave

According to French law, birth mothers in France are entitled to various leave packages based on their specific situation. The following are some legally protected scenarios:

  • Mothers are entitled to at least 16 weeks of parental leave.
  • Mothers must take at least eight weeks of leave.
  • In the event of a complicated pregnancy, mothers are granted an additional two weeks of leave before giving birth and up to four weeks after giving birth.
  • Mothers receive 26 weeks of leave after the third child is born.
  • Mothers receive 12 weeks of leave for twin births.
  • Mothers who have triplets are entitled to 26 weeks of leave.

Meeting the bare legal requirements can be difficult, and not all aspects of pregnancy are predictable. While employers and employees should work together to develop comprehensive leave plans, employers should keep in mind that unexpected events may occur.

Consider making reasonable plans for unforeseen circumstances, such as:

  • Offering remote work opportunities to mothers who require more time at home following childbirth.
  • If they go on leave, hire temporary workers to complete an employee’s duties.
  • Implementing interim duty or changing the schedule to accommodate part-time work during the transition.

Average Income Determines Maternity And Paternity Leave Compensation

During parental leave, an employee’s income level determines the amount of compensation to which they are entitled. Employers compute daily allowances based on an employee’s average income for the three months preceding their first day of leave.

The French social security system specifies a maximum quarterly disbursement amount that an employee may receive. Under current regulations, employees on leave are not permitted to earn more than €10,284 per quarter, but this limit fluctuates.

A Knowledgeable Partner For Navigating Maternity And Paternity Leave In France

The addition of paternity leave benefits in 2021 demonstrates that France’s maternity and paternity leave laws are not static. However, even as laws change, employers must stay current and in compliance with international labor regulations.

Understanding the legal requirements for foreign employers hiring in France can be difficult. An employment services partner, such as a French employer of record, can assist businesses in navigating local leave regulations and hiring on your behalf, assuming responsibility for compliance. An employer of record can also assist organizations in the following ways:

  • Bypass bureaucratic red tape of entity establishment
  • Streamline global onboarding
  • Manage payroll, accounting for currency exchanges and taxes

Learn more about Global Employment Outsourcing (GEO) and how it can help you ensure compliance with labor rules like parental leave—speak with a global solutions advisor today.

Final Words

If you are from a country where leave entitlements do not exist, you should be prepared to meet host country requirements when hiring abroad. France, like many other EU countries, provides generous maternity/paternity leave entitlements for employees, with employers required to meet those minimums.

Employers new to France should conduct extensive research on leave entitlement amounts and be prepared to accommodate employees who become new parents.