France: Parliament Approves Extension of Paternity Leave

(Dec. 9, 2020) The French Parliament has approved legislation that would double paternity leave, from 14 days to 28 days, including seven mandatory days. This new rule is included in the bill to fund social security for 2021, article 35 of which amends the French Labor Code and other relevant texts to increase paternity leave. The language of article 35 was adopted almost unanimously by the National Assembly on October 23, 2020, and by the Senate on November 23. Final adoption of the entire bill occurred on November 30, 2020.

Under this new legislation, new fathers will be able to take up to 28 days of paternity leave, of which three will be paid by their employer and 25 will be paid by the French social security administration. In case of multiple births (twins, triplets, etc.), the social security administration will pay for up to 32 days of paternity leave, bringing the total of possible paternity leave to 35. New fathers will be obligated to take at least seven days of leave immediately after the birth of a child. If a new father takes additional leave beyond the mandatory seven days, he will be able to do so either immediately after this initial leave, or later within a period that will be defined by decree at a future date. Furthermore, adoptive fathers will be eligible for paternity leave as well. Article 35 of the bill to fund social security for 2021 provides that this new extended paternity leave will be applicable to fathers of children born or adopted on or after July 1, 2021. It will also be applicable to fathers of children born before that date, so long as the predicted due date was on or after July 1, 2021.

This reform of paternity leave was developed in response to the conclusions of a commission of experts that President Emmanuel Macron launched in September 2019 to examine the first 1,000 days of childhood. This commission was tasked with making recommendations, based on scientific consensus, to improve the conditions of this foundational period of childhood. The commission submitted its report to the government on September 8, 2020, and one of its recommendations was to increase paternity leave to foster a more harmonious and secure attachment between father and child and to help support the mother.

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