In our previous blog on 26 February 2024 (Paid leave entitlements during sickness absence: a significant change in France | Global Workplace Insider), we mentioned the reversal in case law taken by the French Supreme Court concerning the rules applicable to accrual of paid annual leave for employees absent on sick leave.

Indeed, while previously French law did not allow paid annual leave to be accrued during non-work-related sickness absence, on 13 September 2023, in three unprecedented decisions, the French Supreme Court ruled that French law did not comply with European law and that, consequently, the accrual of paid leave during sick leave should apply to all employees regardless of the reason for the absence.

As a result, it was left to the French legislator to intervene in order to bring French law into line with European legislation.  The new legislation was implemented on 24 April 2024.

The new rules applicable to the accrual of paid leave during sick leave are now as follows:

How many days’ paid holiday does an employee accrue while absent due to sickness?

As a reminder, under French law, the period of accrual of paid holiday is the period between 1st June and 31st May of the following year. Under the new law:

  • An employee on non-work-related sick leave will accrue paid holiday up to a maximum of 2 working days per month (i.e., 24 working days maximum per year).
  • An employee who is on sick leave for work-related reasons will accrue paid holiday up to a maximum of 2.5 working days per month (i.e., 30 working days maximum per year).

Information to be provided by the employer at the end of the period of sick leave

Under the new law, employers must inform employees of their rights when they return to work. In the month following the employee’s return to work, the employer must provide the employee, by any means (including in their pay slip), with information on the number of days of holiday leave accrued and the date by which this leave must be taken.

Carry-over period for untaken leave

In principle, paid leave must be taken within a twelve-month period beginning at the end of the period of accrual (for example, if the period of accrual is from 1st June 2024 to 31st May 2025, paid leave must be taken from 1st June 2025 to 31st May 2026).

The new law provides for a carry-over period of 15 months for using paid leave accrued during a period of sickness absence, after which any paid leave not taken will be lost. The starting point for the period from when the leave must be taken depends on the length of the period of sick leave.

Retroactivity

The new law is retroactive and applies to sick leave taken between 1st December 2009 and 23rd April 2024. For non-work-related sickness absence, claims in respect of periods of annual that have already lapsed are limited to 24 working days of leave (including other leave already accrued).

Lastly, the new law stipulates that for employees still working for the same company, claims for paid leave relating to periods prior to 24th April 2024 must be submitted by 23rd April 2026. For those whose employment contract has been terminated, the limitation period is three years from the date of termination.

This law clarifies the situation and provides a more reassuring framework for companies.