The occurrence of certain events in an employee’s personal life may give rise to authorized leave for family reasons, particularly in case of bereavement.

The French labor code provides for a list of events entitling an employee to take leave. These provisions are of Public Order and therefore cannot be derogated from in a way that is less favourable to the employee.

However, it is not rare for sector wide/ company-wide collective bargaining agreements to provide for more favourable provisions (in terms of events triggering the allocation of family leave, duration of each family leave, and payment therefor).

During family leave, the employee’s employment contract is suspended. The employee’s absence cannot be a reason for disciplinary actions / dismissal.

Duration of bereavement leave

In the event of the death of a relative, all employees are entitled to a leave of absence, the duration of which depends upon their relationship with the deceased person:

  • 3 days for the death of a spouse or partner (whether or not a a civil partnership (“PACS”) has been entered into), a direct ascendant (father, mother), father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother or sister;
  • 5 days for the death of a child.

Who may be entitled to bereavement leave ?

All employees are entitled to benefit from such family leave provisions, regardless of the company’s headcount and seniority of the employee.

Moreover under French law, heterosexual and homosexual couples benefit from the same family leave rights, as marriage and adoptive filiation trigger the same effects recognized by law whether the spouses or parents are of the opposite or same sex.

In addition, employees bound by a PACS benefit from the legal family leave provisions granted to them as a consequence of the conclusion of such partnership and in the event of the death of their partner. However, while a civil partner is entitled to bereavement leave for the death of their partner, such leave is not available in the event of the death of their partner’s parent.

Bereavement leaves resulting from the French labor code are fully paid.

Which procedure must be followed ?

In order to benefit from a family leave, the employee must inform the employer of his / her intention to benefit from the leave by “any means making it possible to ensure a certain date“. Such leave must be taken at the time of the event triggering the leave. Appropriate evidence must be produced by the employee (such as a certificate of death).

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