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Covid France: can I get a sick note while waiting for a test result?

Reader Question: Is it possible to get a note from your doctor giving you time off work if you have Covid symptoms but have not yet had a positive test result?

It is possible to get a sick note before you receive a positive Covid test result Pic: Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock

In France employees who are ill have 48 hours to notify their employer and CPAM that they require leave using an avis d’arrêt de travail (sick note) signed by a doctor.

If you have Covid symptoms but have not received a positive test result, it is possible to obtain a sick note. 

Assurance maladie details the necessary procedure on its website. It says that if you begin experiencing symptoms, “even if mild”, you must self-isolate immediately and keep away from other people in your household. 

You must then take an antigen or PCR test, which you can carry out without a prescription if you are under 18 or fully vaccinated. If you are not fully vaccinated you will need a prescription from your doctor or proof that you have been identified as a close contact case by Assurance maladie. Otherwise you will have to pay for the test.

If there is a significant gap between the beginning of your symptoms and the publication of your test result – for example, if you are waiting for a PCR test to come back or if you need to get a prescription first – you can then apply for a sick note if you cannot work from home. 

This can be done through the Assurance maladie Déclaration de maintien à domicile page. 

However, you must then make sure that you carry out a test in the two days following your sick note declaration.

The sick note will then last until you get your test result – or for a maximum of four days. You should then declare your result on dé 

If the test comes back negative you will be allowed to return to work, and if it is positive you will be contacted by Assurance maladie with instructions on what to do next.

You will be able to access any sick pay due to you for the days you have spent off work. It should be noted, however, that sick pay normally only begins after three days’ absence.

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