Holidays in France


Paid leave in France

Paid leave (holidays) in France

I / Acquisition of paid leave in France

All employees are entitled to paid leave in France, whether hired full-time (Article L3141-1 of the Labour Code), part-time (Article L3123-5 of the Labour Code) or on fixed-term contracts.

The acquisition reference period is (in general) from June 1st N to May 31st N+1.

Unless a collective agreement or a company agreement should be more favourable, an employee acquires (Article L 3141-1 to L 3141-9 Labour Code):

  • 2.5 working days jours ouvrables (2.08 worked days jours ouvrés) per month of effective work
  • A month of effective work corresponds to 4 weeks worked (6×4=24 working days; or 5×4=20 worked days)
  • Some absences are considered as effective working time (see annexes), including :
    • maternity, paternity, and adoption leave (Article L 3141-5 of the Labour Code)
    • accident at work -article L3141-5 labour code, or business travel accident -Cour cass.soc. 3 July 2012 no 08-44834, BC V n° 204,
    • occupational (but not non-occupational) disease,
    • compensatory rest for overtime.
  • The total acquired days over a reference period is 30 working days (25 worked days)
  • Any fraction acquired must be rounded up to the next whole number (Article L3141-7 Labour Code)



. An employee has recently been hired and has worked 84 working days and requests a paid leave. He is entitled to :
. Nb of months: 84 working days / (6×4=24 working days in an effective month) = 3.50 effective months
. Nb of days : 3.50 months x 2.5 working days acquired by month = 8.75 days
. Rounded to: 9 working days acquired for paid leave purposes


II / Taking paid leave in France

Paid leave can be taken from hiring time (Article L3141-12 of the Labour Code), after 10 days of actual work.

The company’s Directors/Management (or a company agreement, or the CBA collective bargaining agreement) must set out:

  • The period for taking the “main” leave, known as “summer period” (Article L 3141-13 of the Labour Code) runs from May 1st to October 31st. This period must be communicated at least two months in advance by any means:
    • Internal memo,
    • Posting to employees,
    • Intranet…
  • The order of departures (taking into account seniority, …, family situations -article L 3141-14 of the Labour Code), at least one month before departures
  • It is not possible for the employer, except in very exceptional circumstances (Article L 3141-16 of the Labour Code), to change the dates one month before the agreed leave dates.

During the main leave period from May 1st to October 31st, the leave that does not exceed 2 weeks (12 working days, or 10 worked days) must be continuous (Article L3141-18 Labour Code). Up to the employer to decide when these two consecutive weeks are to be taken by the employee.

The employee can choose the dates for the 2 other paid leave weeks within this period from May 1st to October 31st (not necessarily in a row, but each week should be a full week of holiday). Caution the employee can not (except for constraints) take more than 4 continuous weeks (24 working days or 20 worked days) (article L3141-17 labour code).

The fifth week of paid leave can be taken within or outside this period from May 1st to October 31st.


Caution the Director/Management must be able to prove that he has done everything possible to make sure that the employee take his paid leave (cour cass.soc. 21 septembre 2017, n° 16-18898 FSPB).



What is paid leave fractioning?

Unless otherwise by CBA (collective bargaining agreement) or company agreement,

days off for holidays taken outside this reference period (May 1st – October 31st), give entitlement to additional paid leave days (note that days linked to the 5th week of annual paid leave, are not taken into account for the calculation of the fractioning below – Article L3141-23 of the Labour Code):

+ 1 paid leave day if days taken outside the reference summer period are between 3 and 5 working days

+ 2 paid leave days if days taken outside the reference period are exceeding 6 working days


. The employer asks the employee to go on holidays 4 weeks in August and 1 week for Christmas => no additional fractioning day

. The employer asks the employee to go on hols 1 week in May, 3 weeks in August and 1 week for Xmas => no additional fractioning day

. The employer asks the employee to go on hols 3 weeks in August, 1 week for Xmas and 1 week in February => 2 additional fractioning days



Can an employer refuse paid leave requested by an employee?

The employer can refuse dates of paid leave, provided that the refusal is not abusive. A refusal must be justified by an economic activity that is impossible to interrupt at a certain period… the refusal must be motivated by objective and real reasons.

An employee who decides alone of his or her own holiday dates, without the employer’s agreement, commits serious misconduct (Cour cass.soc. 16 June 2010, no. 09-40599 D).

Caution if the formalism of the organisation of holidays is not fully respected by the employer (Cour cass.soc. 14 December 2016, n° 15-25293 D) then the employee is considered not to have committed any fault.



Can an employee refuse paid leave dates requested by the employer?

Yes, if the employer does not respect his obligations of information and notice periods…



Can an employee take leave ‘in advance’ (early leave)?

If the request comes from the employer, the gross salary must be maintained (Cour cass. soc. 7 February 2006, No. 04-41558 D) and a regularisation will apply at the end of the acquisition reference period.

If the request comes from the employee, and the employer accepts, the employee is considered taking unpaid leave.



How to articulate Paid Leave and Rest Days of employees on working time in days agreement (annual quota of days scheme; ‘’forfait jours’’) ?

Introduction: for employees on ‘’forfait jours’’, the additional rest days (wrongly called RTT) are a calculation “by deduction” of the number of additional rest days that an employee can take in a calendar year, in order to respect the number of days due to the employer in the context of his ‘’forfait-jours’’ contract.



For employees on ‘’forfait-jours’’ contracts, paid holidays are to be taken in priority!

then the additional rest days (wrongly called RTT) are usually taken as the year progresses (i.e. almost one day per month…).



Can the employee take paid leave during his notice period before leaving the company?


. Can the employer impose on the employee to take paid leave during the notice period? NO


. if the paid leave period had been agreed before the notification of the contract termination:

the employee can take his holidays as planned, but the notice period is suspended during these holidays (Cour cass. Soc. 14 November 1990 n° 87-45288) and consequently postponed accordingly. Unless the employer and employee agree (in writing) to maintain an end date for the notice period.


. the employee asks the employer to be able to take days off during his notice period:

The employer is not obliged to accept.

If the paid leave is accepted and taken by the employee, in this case the notice period is not suspended.


. the employee is on paid leave when the employment contract termination is notified (resignation, dismissal):

The beginning of the notice period starts when the employee returns from paid leave.


. the notice period is planned during the annual closure of the company:

The employee receives both compensation : notice period and paid leave balance when leaving (Cour Cass. Soc. 21 November 2001, no 99-45.424)



What about untaken paid leave? Are they carried over, are they paid?

Carry over of the paid leave balance

Untaken paid leave days cannot be carried over to the following perdiod, they are lost, except in the cases below:

  1. Return from maternity and adoption leave (Article L3141-2 of the Labour Code), acquired paid leave days are not lost (unlike in the case of parental leave where they are lost, Cour cass.soc. 28 January 2004, No 01-46314, BC V No 32)
  2. Sick leave (professional or not) or accident at work, having started “before” the beginning of the paid leave period => paid leave days are carried over (Cour cass.soc. 24 February 2009, n° 07-44488, BC V n°49)
  3. In the case of annual working time arrangements, the company agreement may provide for the postponement of paid leave days balances (Article L 3141-22 of the Labour Code)
  4. If there is a formal employer/employee agreement => paid leave can be postponed onto the next reference period (caution this solution is risky)


Payment of paid leave balance 

In the event of termination of the employment contract, then on the employee’s last day and departure the remaining balance of paid leave days must be paid (Article L 3141-28 Labour Code).

In other situations, during the normal course of the employment contract, untaken paid leave days are not paid (except in litigation cases where the employee demonstrates that the employer has refused his requests for leave).


III / Counting of paid leave days in France

The first day of leave is the working/worked day on which the employee should have worked,

The last day of leave is the working/worked day before resuming to work.

Caution public holidays usually not worked but paid by the company, are not counted (Cass soc 26 January 2011, no 09-68.309)


Case of paid leave for part time workers 

  • Employee who does not work every day

The starting point is the first day that the employee should have worked, and then ‘all’ the working/worked days are counted, until the day before the date the employee returns to work

  • Employee working only half days

Half a day’s leave => one full day’s paid leave deducted



An employee working only from Monday morning to Wednesday midday (counting in worked days – ‘’jours ouvrés’’):

The employee stops on Wednesday at noon to resume the following Monday: no day off counted

He The employee stops on Tuesday evening to resume the following Monday: 3 days off (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday)


IV / Holiday pay

Taking paid leave is materialised in the payslip (gross salary) by::
. in deduction/ number of ”days” of absence x gross daily salary
. in addition/ allowance for paid holidays, which is the most favourable amount for the employee (article L 3141-24 labour code) between :

  • 1/10 of the total Gross salaries received * during the acquisition reference period
  • Or, salary payment, as if the employee had not taken any leave


* Caution in the basis of the Gross salaries are included the salary, the benefits in kind, the commissions, the bonuses and premiums (except for the “annual” premiums such as the 13th month, or exceptional bonus, or holiday premiums like by Syntec for example) – see annexes


V / Special holidays

In France, in addition to paid leave (holidays), there are cases of so-called special holidays:

. Leave for family events (Articles L3142-1 to L3142-5 of the Labour Code)

No seniority requirement

These days are paid and considered as effective work:

  • Birth or adoption: 3 days
  • Employee’s marriage: 4 days (marriage of a child : 1 day)
  • Death of a child: 5 days (death of the spouse, sibling, parents or in-laws : 3 days)

. Maternity leave (Articles L1225-16 to -28 of the Labour Code)

It is a paid leave of 16 weeks (6 before and 10 after the birth)

Caution for the Anglo-Saxons, the KIP Keep in Touch is regulated in France, it is forbidden to make the employee work 2 weeks before and 6 weeks after the birth (article L1225-29 of the Labour Code).

.   Paternity leave (Articles L1225-35 and following of the Labour Code)

No seniority requirement

The employee benefits from the three legal paid days for birth (see above leave for family events)

And 25 (unpaid) days of paternity to be taken within 6 months of the birth

.   Parental leave for education (articles L1225-47 and following of the Labour Code)

After one year of seniority

It is a leave that follows maternity or adoption leave, this leave is not paid, lasts a maximum duration of one year and can be renewed twice.

.   Leave for sick children (Article L 1225-61 of the Labour Code)

Unpaid leave, between 3 and 5 days per year

.   Other special holidays: parental leave for sickness, examination leave for apprentices, family solidarity leave, leave to be a carer, sabbatical leave, natural disasters leave, international solidarity, trade union training, setting up a business, etc,…

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