France is doubling paid paternity leave for new fathers to 28 days, President Emmanuel Macron announced.
Of this leave, seven days will be mandatory, the French leader said, adding that 80% of the French population believed that fathers’ leave time was currently too short.
The Elysee Palace said the move would bring the country into line with more generous legislation elsewhere in Europe. It is expected to cost the country’s social security system around € 500,000 per year, or double the current bill, and will come into effect next July.
In France, the first three days of paternity leave are paid for by the father’s employer and the rest by the State.
Companies that refuse to grant new fathers the compulsory seven days off will face fines of up to € 7,500.
“This reform will move France from an intermediate position in Europe to a place among the group of leading countries, including Spain, Sweden, Norway and Portugal,” said the president’s office.
“Time is an essential factor in establishing an important bond between the child and the parents. The current 14-day period is too short, ”the official added.
Macron set up a commission headed by well-known psychiatrist Boris Cyrulnik last November to examine a child’s first 1,000 days. The commission recommended nine weeks paternity leave.
“Doubling is already a fairly significant change in terms of cultural development and for the place of fathers with children,” said the Elysee.
14-day paternity leave was introduced in France in 2002 and was longer than many other European countries at the time.
French parents are also entitled to “parental leave” at the end of any maternity and paternity leave. It is available to all workers and starts at six months for a first child and up to three years if the couple has two or more children and the leave is shared between both parents. Parental leave is not paid leave, but parents may be entitled to state benefits.
Sweden currently offers 60 days of paid paternity leave at 80% of salary, Spanish fathers can take 12 weeks of fully paid leave at the moment, but that number will increase to 16 weeks next year. Finland offers 54 days, paid at 70% of salary. Portugal grants 25 days full pay and Italy seven days full pay.
In the UK, the law allows employees with at least 26 weeks of employment to take two weeks of maximum paid paternity leave, which is paid at £ 148.68 per week or 90% of the father’s average weekly wage, according to the lowest amount. There are other provisions: UK parents may be entitled to shared parental leave and statutory shared parental pay, giving them the right to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of salary between them.
Patrick Martin, chairman of the organization of French business leaders Medef, the equivalent of the British CBI, said the measure was “good for society” but would cost French companies 300 million euros per year.