Maternity and Paternity Leave in France: A Guide for Overseas Employers

When employees face the prospect of the birth of a child, naturally they will want to know how their employer will support them during this time.

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While many companies will have generous internal policies for maternity and paternity leave, many countries also have statutory minimums that must be met regardless of company policies.

The primary questions are:

  1. The amount of leave time
  2. Whether the leave is paid or unpaid and
  3. The source of funds for paid leave

If you are from a country where there are no leave entitlements, you should be prepared to meet host country requirements when hiring abroad.  France, as with many EU countries, provides a generous maternity/paternity leave entitlement for employees and those minimums must be met by employers.

Employers that are new to France should thoroughly research the leave entitlement amounts and be ready to accommodate employees who become new parents.  This guide will give you the basics, but you may also need local experts at some point to make sure that you are in compliance with French statutes.

Maternity Leave in France

Leave Period

Maternity leave in France is 16 weeks for the first child, 16 weeks for the second and 26 weeks for their third child.  The leave period can begin up to 6 weeks before birth. 

A new mother is required to take at least 8 weeks of leave, which demonstrates that French laws do lean toward caring for employees with a more


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Tim Burgess

Director, Shield GEO Services Ltd

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