Adoption leave is granted to parents who adopt one or more children who have not yet reached the age of 12. Adoption leave enables one of the spouses to stay at home in order to take care of the child(ren) who has/have recently arrived in the family.
Each employee or self-employed worker who adopts one or more children (who must be less than 12 years old) is entitled to adoption leave. However, this type of leave can only be granted to one of the parents.
If both spouses qualify for adoption leave, they will need decide which one will take the leave.
If only one of the spouses qualifies, then they alone will be entitled to the leave. The person who is not entitled to adoption leave is however entitled to 10 days of leave for personal reasons (or more, depending on the regulations/collective agreement in force in the company).
In order to be granted adoption leave and receive a social benefits, the employee or self-employed worker must have been:
- registered with the mandatory sickness and maternity insurance;
- for at least 6 months during the 12 months prior to the adoption leave.
Application for adoption leave
Employees who wish to take adoption leave must:
- submit an application to their employer accompanied by either the certificate issued by the court proving that the adoption procedure (requête en adoption) has started, or the approval from the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth to proceed with the procedure;
- submit the adoption application or the approval to proceed with the procedure to the National Health Fund (Caisse nationale de santé - CNS) together with their contact details and the start date of the adoption leave agreed with the employer.
Self-employed persons who wish to take adoption leave must:
- submit the adoption application or the approval to proceed with the procedure to the CNS together with their contact details and the start date of the adoption leave.
The CNS will then send them a "declaration on honour" (attestation sur l'honneur) form which must be completed, signed and returned to the CNS. On this form, applicants declare that they will interrupt their professional activity for the full period of the adoption leave, and specify the date on which they will resume their activity.
Amount and duration of benefits
Amount of adoption leave
Adoption leave is granted for 12 weeks as of the date communicated to the CNS.
Amount of allowance
During adoption leave, the employee or self-employed worker is entitled to a cash allowance paid by the CNS. The amount of the adoption allowance is determined in the same way as the sickness benefit.
The amount of the allowance is:
- for beneficiaries who are employees:
- equivalent to the highest base salary received in the 3 months prior to the adoption;
- including, where applicable, the average of supplementary and ancillary benefits received during the 12 months preceding the month prior to the start of the adoption leave;
- for beneficiaries who are self-employed; the contribution base in force at the time adoption leave is taken.
The cash benefits may not be:
- lower than the social minimum wage;
- more than 5 times the social minimum wage.
The cash benefits cannot overlap with sickness benefits or with any other professional income.
Effects of the adoption leave on the working relationship
At the end of adoption leave, both parents are entitled to a part-time or full-time parental leave.
Protection against dismissal
If the employee has submitted the court-issued adoption order to the employer, the employee cannot be dismissed with notice, or summoned to a pre-dismissal interview for the entire duration of adoption leave.
The ban on dismissal is valid for a period of 12 weeks following the adoption.
If an employee on adoption leave is dismissed, they may, within 15 days of the termination of their employment contract, petition the President of the Labour Tribunal to have the dismissal declared null and void.
In the event of cessation of business, the termination of the employment contract will not be declared null and void.
However, an employee on adoption leave can be dismissed for serious misconduct. The employer may announce the employee's immediate suspension pending the decision of the labour tribunal, but they cannot send the actual letter of dismissal on their own initiative.
If an employee on a permanent employment contract wishes to take adoption leave while they are still on a trial period, the trial period is suspended from the day the employee submits the court-issued adoption order to the employer.
Employees on adoption leave are protected against dismissal throughout the entire period of leave, as well as, where applicable, during full-time parental leave.
The remaining trial period resumes at the end of the period of protection against dismissal.
In the case of a fixed-term employment contract, there is no suspension of the trial period nor renewal of the fixed-term contract, which expires normally at the end of the term initially provided for.
Resignation and priority for re-employment
Employees who do not wish to return to work at the end of the adoption leave in order to take care of their child can resign without notice and without having to pay compensation for breach of contract.
In addition, they can ask to be given priority for re-employment once their adoption leave is over. The request must be sent by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt.
Following this request, and for the duration of one year, the employer must give priority to former employee if they apply for a position that matches their qualifications, and in the event of re-employment, grant former employees all the benefits they were entitled to prior to their resignation.
Resignation without notice is possible only for employees who decide to give up their job in order to devote themselves fully and exclusively to raising their child.
It is not possible for employees who wish to change employers at the end of their adoption leave.
Leave and other benefits
Adoption leave is considered as an effective period of work, which means:
- adoption leave must be taken into consideration when calculating annual leave. The leave not taken by the employee prior to the beginning of the adoption leave can be deferred within the legal time frames;
- the period of adoption leave is taken into account when calculating length of service and related rights;
- employees on adoption leave have their position, or an equivalent position, kept open with the company (the equivalent position must match the person's qualifications and provide a salary at least equivalent to the current salary);
- employees retain the acquired benefits earned prior to their adoption leave;
- employees benefit from any improvements in working conditions that have been implemented during their absence.