Update: The 28-day paternity leave extension entered into effect, as expected, on 1 July 2021.
The French government recently proposed the Social Security Finance Bill for 2021 to extend total paternity leave from 14 days to 28 days, with a requirement to take at least one week off after the birth of a child.
The paternity leave extension is expected to be effective on 1 July 2021.
Currently, fathers or second parents in same-sex couples are entitled to an employer-funded birth leave of three days and a government-funded paternity leave of 11 calendar days (18 days for multiple births) that can be taken within four months following the birth of a child.
The bill aims to promote gender equality and would bring France in line with the most generous legislation in Europe.
Government-paid paternity leave would increase from the current 11 calendar days to 25 calendar days (32 days for multiple births) on 1 July 2021, while the three days of employer-paid birth leave remain unchanged.
Fathers or second parents are encouraged to take advantage of the entire paternity leave but would be mandated to take seven calendar days of paternity leave following the birth of their child. It remains to be clarified whether the required week of leave after the birth includes the birth leave days or is in addition to them. The extended paternity leave applies to both natural births as well as adoptions.
Paternity leave is currently funded by the government up to EUR 89.03 per day as of 1 January 2020, so long as the employee has had a social security number for a minimum of 10 months and has worked and contributed to social insurance for at least 150 hours for three months prior to taking the leave. The increased paternity leave will be subject to the same eligibility requirements and compensation levels as the current paid paternity leave.
Companies that fail to comply with the change would face a fine equal to EUR 7,500 per employee.
Employers should monitor this upcoming change and begin planning for this additional time off. Companies that are subject to a collective agreement or currently provide paternity leave or pay above the statutory requirement should clarify how their supplemental policy will interact with the new requirements.
The government’s announcement to extend paternity leave entitlement follows the publication of a report by a government commission to examine a child’s first 1,000 days. The commission recommended nine weeks of paternity leave. While the government decided not to follow this recommendation currently, there may be future increases in leave entitlement.