Paid leave in the event of sick leave, the State offers four weeks of leave

The employers are breathing a little easier. After seven months of reflection in a tense climate, the government has just taken decisions likely to reassure employer movements on a thorny issue: the right for an employee to acquire paid leave during sick leave, even in the event of of pathology not related to his job. An arbitration linked to the fact that France does not currently respect European Union (EU) legislation. Thursday March 14, the executive presented to the social partners a system which seeks to align the French legal corpus with the standards applicable to the Twenty-Seven. In particular, it introduces a new rule, which grants paid leave, up to four weeks per year, to people who have temporarily ceased their activity. “for non-professional reasons”. The option chosen by those in power displeases several unions, who consider it too restrictive.

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The problem had been around for years but had never really been tackled head-on. It was the Court of Cassation which came to remind the State that it was time to act. On September 13, 2023, the high court handed down several judgments which highlighted the non-compliance of French law with European texts – in this case, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and a 2003 directive. These decisions, several principles have emerged – in particular the right to acquire paid leave during sick leave, whether the illness is of professional origin or not.

When reading the Court’s judgments, employers’ circles were choked up. “It will cost businesses more than 2 billion euros per year”denounced Patrick Martin, the president of Medef. “It would be the door open to big anything”, added the Confederation of Small and Medium Enterprises (CPME). The fear of the two organizations was – among other things – the prospect of employees filing complaints dating back to 2009, the date on which the Charter of Fundamental Rights became binding, with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty.

“Securing employers and employees”

The government quickly wanted to allay the concerns of employer movements. At the end of November 2023, Elisabeth Borne, then Prime Minister, indicated that the European provisions would be transposed into the French law but that she would ensure “reduce the impact as much as possible” of the measure on companies. Little by little, the idea of ​​legislating through a bill emerged. “carrying out various provisions for adaptation to EU law”, now being examined in Parliament. A draft amendment to this text was submitted to the Council of State – which issued an opinion on Wednesday, which the executive took into account.

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