France announces more time off work for new parents

Expected to come into force from 2025, the new system will aim to share leave between parents and improve statutory pay

A couple cradling their young baby
The latest reform will aim to encourage parents to share leave, and improve pay during the time
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A "new right" to parental leave is set to come into force in France from 2025, the minister for solidarity and families has announced, including plans to improve pay for the duration of the leave.

Aurore Bergé confirmed the plans on November 8 in an interview with l’Express. She said the provision would be a “new right” for new parents to take more time away from work to look after their baby, and would also ensure better pay during their leave.

The leave would be added to existing maternity and paternity leave.

“After maternity and paternity leave, parents will each be entitled to family leave, which they can take at the same time [as each other], or one after the other, full-time or part-time,” said Ms Bergé.

This ‘family leave’ will be "much better paid" than current ‘parental leave’ (€429 per month), she said.

Mr Bergé said she is also currently holding consultations with trade unions and employers' organisations in a bid to reform parental leave in general.

In July, the minister called for extra “consideration” to be given to “shorter but better-paid parental leave, to give families a real choice” on how to use it. The suggestion that leave should be shorter has attracted criticism from some.

Reforms and lack of paternal leave

Parental leave was first created in France in 1977, and has been reformed several times since. It is intended to allow parents to share time off work until their child is three years old.

In 2014, then-President Francois Hollande made a significant reform to the system. The allowance was reduced, and cut to two years if only one parent took leave during that period. The final year was then only allowed to be taken by the other parent. The aim was to encourage 25% of fathers to take leave.

However, figures suggest that the reform did not lead to more fathers taking leave. A 2021 study by the economic research centre the OFCE found that less than 1% of fathers take up the offer.

Similarly, government figures show that the number of parents taking up the scheme jointly has fallen significantly in the past decade, from 500,000 in 2013 to 246,000 in 2020.

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