🇫🇷 Time Off in France

Henning Wandsleb
Henning Wandsleb
  • Updated

Oyster policy is denoted in purple.

Statutory

French employees are entitled to paid leave (“paid time off” or “PTO” or “paid annual leave”) each year in addition to public holidays.

There are two legally acceptable methods of calculating paid annual leave:

  1. It can be 30 days (accrued as 2.5 days per month of actual work with the same employer) if the company counts the days from Monday to Saturday (working days), or
  2. It can be 25 days (accrued as 2.08 days per month of actual work with the same employer) if the company counts the days from Monday to Friday (business days).

Whatever the method used, the team member ultimately receives the same amount of time off (ie. about 5 weeks).

Oyster is using method 2 and counts the days from Monday to Friday, so our team members benefit from at least 25 days of paid annual leave per year, accrued as 2.08 days per full month worked.

The total amount of required PTO can’t exceed 30 days per year. Collective agreements, employment agreements, or other contracts may provide for longer periods of PTO.

For calculating PTO entitlements, periods of actual work include some types of approved leave, including:

  • Periods of PTO;
  • Periods of maternity, paternity, and adoptive leave;
  • Rest time granted as compensation for overtime;
  • Rest days granted under a collective agreement;
  • Up to 1 year of time during which the employment contract is suspended due to an occupational accident or disease;
  • And periods during which the employees are called to national service.

An employee’s absence from work for other reasons can lead to a reduction of their paid time off. However, this reduction must be in proportion to the duration of the absence.

Employees don’t have the right to work during their PTO.

Employees who have reached a specific length of service and/or who have family related events may be eligible for additional paid leave under the law or applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The CBA applicable to Oyster has more favorable provisions than the Labor Code for most types of leave. See Other Leave for more information.

Timing

The holiday year is from June 1 to May 31 of each year. Periods during which leave is taken is agreed between the employer and the employee based on business needs and in compliance with legal requirements.

The time period during which employees can take leave may or may not extend over the whole year, but it must include the legal holiday period between May 1 and October 31 of each year during which team members must take 2 consecutive weeks of paid annual leave. Alternative paid leave periods can be established by collective agreement, company agreement, or other convention, so long as the legal holiday period is included.

In the absence of an agreement, the employer may set the period and the order for taking PTO after consulting with the social and economic committee. In setting the priority for PTO, the employer must consider:

  • The employee’s family situation;
  • The employee’s tenure with the company;
  • And the employee’s length of service with one or more employers.

Any changes to the priority order must be notified within 30 days of the change.

Employees can’t take more than 24 days off at one time. The employer can grant a longer leave for:

  • Employees who face “geographical constraints”;
  • And employees who have a disabled person in the home or are responsible for “an elderly person with a loss of autonomy.”

If the PTO exceeds 12 working days, employees can agree to split their PTO so long as one of the fractions is at least 12 days.

When employees are unable to take their PTO within the set holiday period (usually from May 1 to October 31), they can benefit from additional days off, also known as “days of splitting.” Days of splitting are given out under the following situations:

  • One business day is given if the employee takes between three and five days off outside the holiday period;
  • And two business days are given if the employee takes six or more days off outside the holiday period.

These additional days of splitting are not due if the employee waives their right in writing (this cannot be done in advance in the employment agreement, it has to be done each year when the situation occurs). Since splitting up the main holiday period requires both the employee’s and the company’s consent, if an employee requests the split of their main holiday, it is customary for the employer to only accept if the employee waives the right to the additional days. The 5th week of paid holiday can be taken at any time, it doesn't follow these rules.

Because employers have a legal obligation to allow employees to take time off, vacation carry-over isn’t recommended in France. As such, Oyster’s employment agreement states that holiday accrued but not used by May 31 following the year of accrual will not carry over to any following holiday year. For example, holiday accrued from June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022 must be taken by May 31, 2023.

Pay

During PTO employees are entitled to a paid time off allowance, known as “vacation pay.” Vacation pay comprises an amount equal to one-tenth of the employee’s total gross remuneration received during the “reference period” (the accrual period, usually from June 1 to May 31). Vacation pay includes, without limitation:

  • Base salary;
  • Any salary increases;
  • Payments received for certain leave periods;
  • Vacation pay from the previous year;
  • Bonuses;
  • And benefits-in-kind, etc.

Extra Rest Days

Extra rest days must be provided to Executives (Cadres au Forfait Jour) who have work schedules computed in days in order to compensate for the fact that they are not subject to the legal working hours (35 hours per week). The number of extra rest days varies each year due to public holidays and weekends but will usually add at least 9 extra rest days to the existing vacation leave<. These additional rest days are in addition to public holidays and PTO. 

At Oyster, these extra rest days can only be taken in full day increments unless previously agreed otherwise in writing. Rest days must be taken during the calendar year in which they are accrued, otherwise, they are lost. Team members must submit requests for rest days at least 15 working days before the requested rest date for approval.

Additional rest days may also be provided to team members who work overtime, in certain circumstances.

Customary

Some employers supplement statutory provisions with more generous paid time off plans. Some paid time off policies are without any distinction; others are by seniority, family situation, or other criteria concerning company activities.

Some CBAs provide for a vacation bonus to be paid annually.

Best in Class

The best in class approach is similar to the customary one.