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How sick leave in France compares to the UK, the US and the EU

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How sick leave in France compares to the UK, the US and the EU
Photo: sick leave/Depositphotos
09:02 CET+01:00
Sick leave can vary dramatically country by country. Here we compare what rights workers have in France compared to those in the UK, US and across the EU.
Knowing your rights when it comes to sick leave is crucial as an employee and there are big differences between what countries offer their workers. 
 
We've compared the legal requirements for sick leave in France, the UK, US and elsewhere in the EU -- although it's important to remember that sick pay can vary greatly from person to person as certain companies will have their own sick pay schemes. 
 
 
Sick leave in France 
 
In France, statutory sick pay can vary depending on how long you've been ill. And it's important to note that the amount you are paid if you are off sick will often depend on company policy or the most likely the collective bargaining agreement (convention collective) that applies to your position.
 
First six months
 
During the first six months sick pay is equal to 50 percent of your "basic daily wage" - that doesn't mean how much you earn each day. 
 
If you are paid monthly, you can use the following calculation to work out your basic daily wage: take the total (gross) of your last three salaries and divide by 91.25.
 
For example, if you earned €2,000 per month for the three months before getting ill, you will get a fixed sick pay of €32.87 per day (2,000 x 3 / 91.25 = 65.75).
 
You then take that amount and divide by two to arrive at the amount you'll be paid each day that you're off work sick, which in this case would be €32.86. 
 
In order to qualify for this sick pay you must have worked at least 150 hours in the three months before you became ill. Also, your gross salary which is taken into account to calculate your basic daily earnings is capped at 1.8 times the Smic (minimum wage) amount. In 2019, this works out at €2,738.19 per month.
 
After six months
 
If you are ill for longer than six months, then you have to meet the following criteria to continue receiving sick pay.  
 
To be certain you will receive sick pay in the case of long-term illness you must have worked at least 600 hours in the 12 months before stopping work due to the illness.
 
For example, if you stopped work on July 1st 2018, you would be entitled to sick pay if you had worked at least 600 hours between June 30th 2017 and June 30th 2018. 
 
Or else you must have contributed on a salary equal to at least 2,030 times the amount of the hourly Smic in the 12 months preceding getting ill.
 
For example, for a work stoppage that began on July 1st 2018, you are entitled to sick pay if between June 30th 2017 and June 30th 2018, you were paid at least €20,056.40. 
 
In either case, you must also have had health insurance for at least 12 months. 
 
How long does it last?
 
Social security will pay sick pay for a maximum of 360 days for a period of three consecutive years (regardless of the number of illnesses), without taking into account the compensation paid for a long-term illness or health condition. 
 
When you take sick leave in France, you will receive compensation in lieu of salary which will be paid either by social security, or in some cases by your employer if your company has its own sick leave policy.
 
If you are too sick to work, you are expected to give your employer and social security organisation a doctor's note within two days and if you don't, you probably won't receive any sick pay at all. 
 
On top of that, workers are not automatically entitled to sick pay for the first three days of absence, although their company or convention collective may cover it.
 
According to a 2016 survey, France is among the most generous countries in the EU when it comes to sick pay. By comparison, the same study revealed the UK to be one of the worst. 
 
Sick leave in the UK
 
In the UK, statutory sick pay (SSP) amounts to a flat rate of £92.05 per week, which is paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.
 
You are entitled to at least this amount but you may be entitled to more sick pay if your company has an occupational sick pay (OSP) scheme, which would be detailed on your employment contract.
 
To qualify for SSP at all you must earn at least £116 per week and tell your employer you’re sick before their deadline - or within seven days if they do not have one.
 
In the UK, employees only need to provide a sick note after seven days of sick leave (including non-working days) and can sign themselves off sick up until this point. 
 
However like in France, you do not qualify for statutory sick pay (SSP) until you have been ill for at least four days -- although this includes non-working days -- meaning you will not be paid for the first three days that you are ill unless your employment contract says otherwise. 
 
When you return to work after a period of illness, your employer might ask you to sign a ‘self-certification’ form as proof that you were unwell or send details of their sick leave by email.
 
While OSP schemes tend to be a lot more generous than SSP, according to some sources, just 55.9 percent of companies in the UK have one. This means that for many workers in the UK there is no choice but to soldier on and make it into the office even if they are under the weather. 
 
And if that seems unfair, take a look at what employees in the US are offered.
 
Photo: Depositphotos
 
Sick leave in the US
 
In the US, there is no statutory sick pay. 
 
However, companies subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) do have to provide unpaid sick leave.
 
The FMLA provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain medical situations for either the employee or a member of the employee's immediate family. In many instances, companies will offer to pay for the employee's leave in this situation although they are not obliged to.
 
However to qualify for this as an employee you have to meet certain criteria. 
 
Employees are only eligible to take FMLA leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, and have worked at least 1,250 hours during that time. They also have to work somewhere with 50 employees or more with a 75 mile radius.
 
Sick leave elsewhere in the EU
 
Sick leave and pay in the EU are most generous in the Netherlands, where employees can miss up to 104 weeks (2 years) of work due to illness whilst still receiving 70 percent of their salary. 
 
In Germany employees can be absent for up to 78 weeks. They receive 100 percent of their earnings for the first 6 weeks they are off sick and 70 percent thereafter. 
 
As for Norway and Denmark, sick leave entitlement is for 100 percent of earnings for up to 52 weeks, a full year. 
 
Other countries where sick leave conditons are better than in France are Sweden, Spain, Belgium and Austria, where employees can be off from work for up to 52 weeks, with pay ranging from 50 percent to 100 percent of earnings. 
 
In Ireland sick leave pay is dependent on the specifics of a worker’s employment contract and in Switzerland labour law states that employers have to carry on paying sick employees for at least three weeks.

To qualify for SSP at all you must earn at least £116 per week and tell your employer you’re sick before their deadline - or within seven days if they do not have one.

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