Health For Members

EXPLAINED: How much time can parents in France take off for sick children?

James Harrington
James Harrington - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: How much time can parents in France take off for sick children?
Working parents are entitled to unpaid leave if their children fall ill. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

If you are working in France and your child falls ill, here is what you can expect when it comes to taking leave.


Children get sick - it’s a fact of life anywhere in the world, including France. And working parents should expect to have to take some time off work to care for them.

In general, employees who need time off to care for a sick or injured child under the age of 16 may take leave. 

Is child sick leave paid in France?

In most cases, workers will not benefit from paid leave for a sick child, but they can take part of their usual paid leave allowance, in agreement with their employer. 

That being said, your company or industry may have negotiated a collective agreement for paid child sick leave, so it will depend on where you work. 

When taking unpaid leave to care for your child, you will still be eligible for social security benefits.

The legal minimum for unpaid leave to care for a sick child is three days per year - rising to five days if the child is under a year old, or if the parent is responsible for three children or more under the age of 16. This generally covers, with the help of the family support network (aka grandparents) the usual gamut of minor childhood illnesses.

The absence must be justified to the employer by a medical certificate.

READ MORE: How sick leave pay in France compares to other countries in Europe

Remember, this is just a legal minimum. Businesses in France tend to be much more flexible on parental leave to care for a sick or injured child, wherever possible - and parents may use part of their paid leave allowance, in agreement with their employer.

But, for the record, any employee on parental leave is also protected from dismissal in all but the most serious circumstances, such as gross misconduct.


What if I need more than the normal allotment? 

In cases of more serious illnesses or injury, parents of dependent children are entitled to longer parental leave - regardless of their length of service.

Employees have a right to up to 310 working days leave - a total 14 months - over any three year period. Depending on the nature of the child’s condition, this leave period can be renewed. 

This extended leave can be divided up as required, to create periods of part-time work, for example, or separated into blocks of absence to care for the child.

Are there any state benefits available when taking unpaid leave?


Workers who need this form of extended leave are not entitled to their salary while they are absent from work - but can apply for Allocation journalière de présence parentale (AJPP).

The AJPP daily allowance usually amounts to €62.44 (€31.22 per half-day) for full-time employees - and is paid for a maximum of 22 days per month over a period of three years - is intended to allow parents to care for a seriously ill, injured or disabled child. 

READ MORE: 5 things to know about visiting a doctor in France

It is paid to one parent at a time over that period, and may be renewed if necessary.

In the worst case scenario, minimum legal parental leave in the case of the death of a child is 14 days for a child under 25.

If the child was over 25, the minimum legal parental leave is 12 days - unless the deceased was a parent in their own right, in which case it is extended to a minimum of 14 days.


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