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Maternity leave in France

Maternity leave allows the woman rest before and after delivery. Maternity leave includes prenatal leave (before confinement) and postnatal leave (after childbirth).

The duration of maternity leave

It varies according to the number of children the woman is expecting and the number of children she has already had. When they are expecting a child and have less than two children, the length of prenatal leave is 6 weeks, the postnatal leave length is 10 weeks being total duration of maternity leave of 16 weeks. When a child is expected but they have at least two more children the prenatal leave length is 8 weeks, the length of postnatal leave is 18 weeks having 26 weeks of maternity leave.

When parents are waiting for twins the length of prenatal maternity leave length is 12 weeks, the postnatal maternity leave length is of 22 weeks and the total weeks of maternity leave is 34 weeks. When triplets or more are expected, the length of prenatal maternity leave is 24 weeks, the postnatal maternity leave length is 22 weeks so they are 46 weeks of maternity leave length. During this leave, the woman receives daily benefits from the Social Security. These allowances are equal to her salary. There are attribution rules.

When should I contact my employer that I am pregnant?

You must report the pregnancy no later than 15 weeks before the week of delivery. The law does not establish an obligation to communicate it more in advance, although you may need it, for example, once you want it, that you are pregnant, be careful with the special rights of safety and health for pregnancy. Request paid leave for prenatal care. In addition, once your employer is aware of being pregnant, the law protects you against dismissal or discrimination based on pregnancy. The information you must provide to the employer is let him know you are pregnant, the week of expected for delivery and the date when you intent to start maternity leave.


During your maternity leave, your legal rights continue to be present (that is, the rights that the law guarantees to all employees in this country). For example, everyone has the legal right to 28 days of paid annual leave, whether during maternity leave or not. In addition, during that time you have the right not to suffer discriminatory treatment from your employer in terms of promotion opportunities or salary increase.

The delivery

The French health insurance covers 100 percent of expenses when you have your baby. This includes the medical assistance for baby and mother. The mother has the right to choose the hospital, weather public or not, choose the doctor and nurse that will be in the delivery moment, they also have the opportunity of having the babies at home with a midwife and they are attended by a gynecologist all the pregnancy time. Besides, if she decides to have the baby at home, mother can reach other kind of insurance in order to protect the baby.

The parental permission

Parental leave is offered to both parents, together or separately. It allows them to devote themselves to the education of the child until his three years of age. Parental leave can be taken on a full-time or part-time basis and you must apply for parental leave with your employer who cannot refuse the leave, but an agreement on the hours to work and a schedule are necessary. The person needs to have at least one year of seniority in your company. During parental leave, you receive a portion of your salary, plus a supplement paid by the Family Allowance Fund.

Different modes of children care

In France, mothers usually return to work when their baby is two and a half months old. They must find a way to keep their child.

Collective welcome

There are structures managed by the municipality that are subsidized by the Family Allowances Fund, they are Nurseries, micro-nurseries (regular reception), day-care centers (one-off reception), kindergartens (reserved for children aged two to six). Parents pay a fee contribution according to their resources.

 Parental Home (Parenting Cribs)

These collective reception establishments are run by an association of parents. They must have an authorization from the child protection services to open. Parents must get involved and take part in welcoming the child with professionals. The number of children accommodated is limited to twenty. The Family Allowances Fund contributes to the financing of parental crèches.Parents pay a fee contribution according to their resources.

Family welcome

The family nursery employs approved child-minders who welcome at home between one and four children, generally under the age of four.

Home care

You can choose to have your child looked after by someone at home. “Shared custody” is also possible: we share the employment of a person at home with another family. If your child is taken care of by an approved maternal assistant, financial assistance is possible through the Family Allowance Fund.

The “nannies”

The term “nanny” is a “child’s word” to refer to the “nanny”. In France, the breastfeeding of newborns was not always done by the mother, but by a woman specially employed for this purpose.This practice has been known since the middle Ages and lasted until the 19th century. It touched all social circles. From the beginning of the seventeenth century, it is mainly practiced in cities. For example, in Paris in 1780, only 1,000 children out of 21,000 born in the year were fed by their mothers. The use of a nanny to breastfeed her child was sociocultural. The aristocracy and the urban bourgeoisie wanted to preserve the role of social representation of women, whether social works or worldly. Breastfeeding was perceived as a practice that spoiled the beauty of the breasts. Sexual intercourse was prohibited during this period. In the working class, particularly the working class, the need to return to work for women encouraged couples to give their babies back to nannies. In the countryside, many women were forced to rent their nanny services at very low prices to earn additional income.