Family Leave Requirements Vary in France, Spain and the UK

 

By Ius Laboris April 24, 2019
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​Unlike in the United States, time off work to bond with infants is paid in France, Spain and the United Kingdom (U.K.). Differences in the amount of time parents may take often depend on the type of leave. Employers with operations in these countries should become familiar with each nation's requirements.

France

Maternity leave

During maternity leave, the French Social Security Authority (SSA) pays employees' compensation, and the employer may "top up" so the employee receives a full salary. Collective agreements usually make topping up mandatory. Leave is calculated as follows: 

 

Number of children expectedNumber of existing childrenPrenatal leavePostnatal leave
OneNone or oneSix weeks10 weeks
OneTwo or moreEight weeks18 weeks
Twinsn/a12 weeks22 weeks
Triplets or moren/a24 weeks22 weeks

Birth leave

Fathers of a newborn are entitled to three days' birth leave, paid by the employer. 

Paternity and 'welcome' leave

The father—or person living with the mother—may receive 11 consecutive days' leave for a single birth and 18 consecutive days for multiple births, paid by the SSA. This leave may be taken following birth leave or separately.

Adoption leave

During adoption leave, the SSA pays employees. As with maternity leave, the employer may top up the SSA's contribution so the employee receives a full salary, and collective agreements usually make this mandatory. Leave is calculated as follows:

 

Number of children to be adoptedNumber of existing childrenLeave if taken by one parent Leave if split between parents
OneNone or one10 weeks10 weeks plus 11 days
OneTwo or more18 weeks18 weeks plus 11 days
Twins or moren/a22 weeks22 weeks plus 18 days

Parental leave

Employees with more than one year's service may take one year of paid parental leave up until the child's third birthday, plus one additional paid year for a child with a disability. The SSA pays for the leave.

Spain

For family-related leave in Spain, the employer suspends the employment contract while the employee on leave receives benefits, but the employer must fulfill its social security obligations through payment of leave. About 85 percent of social security in Spain is at the employer's expense, according to Tax Partners.

Maternity and adoption leave

All employees are entitled to 16 weeks of maternity or adoption leave. The mother must take at least six weeks off immediately following the birth of a child.

For multiple births, the time off work increases by two weeks for each child beyond one. If the child has a disability, the time off also increases by two weeks.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Introduction to the Global Human Resources Discipline]

Paternity leave

Employees are entitled to five consecutive weeks of paternity leave. For multiple births, this period increases by two days for each child beyond one.

Parental leave

Employees with at least one year's service may take unpaid leave for child care for a maximum of three years from the date of birth or, in the case of adoption, court order, but only if more than four years have passed since the last unpaid parental leave.

U.K.

U.K. employers often supplement government-paid leave for each of the family leave rights summarized below so that employees can draw a full salary.

Maternity and adoption leave

Employees are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity or adoption leave.

Employees who've been with their employer for at least 26 weeks receive maternity or adoption pay (SMP or SAP, respectively) for up to 39 weeks. SMP and SAP are payable at 90 percent of average earnings for the first six weeks and at the statutory rate for the remainder (currently 145.18 pounds per week—approximately U.S. $189).

Paternity leave

Employees who've been with their employer for at least 26 weeks can take up to two weeks of paternity leave to care for a child. This must be taken within 56 days of a child's birth or adoption.

Paternity leave is paid at the lower of 90 percent of average earnings or the statutory rate.

Shared parental leave (paid)

In April 2015, optional shared parental leave (SPL) was introduced. Mothers can choose to end their maternity leave at any point after a two-week compulsory leave period after the birth and opt in to a period of SPL. Parents can choose how to split the remaining 50 weeks of maternity leave between them. Each parent may use SPL separately or simultaneously. SPL is also available for parents who adopt.

Parental leave (unpaid)

Employees with more than one year's service may take up to 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave for the care of each child. Parental leave can be taken in addition to statutory maternity, paternity or adoption leave and must be used before the child's 18th birthday.

Ius Laboris is the world's largest global HR and employment law firm alliance. Contributing members to this article include Jean-Benoît Cottin, an attorney with Capstan Avocats in Montpellier, France; Guillaume Bordier, an attorney with Capstan Avocats in Paris; Gisella Alvarado, an attorney with Sagardoy Abogados in Madrid; and Richard Lister, an attorney with Lewis Silkin in London.

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