French dads face fines for skipping paternity leave

French fathers are getting more paternity leave and one week of it will be mandatory in policy shake up

Paris skyline with Eiffel Tower in France


New dads that don’t take paternity leave will be fined under new laws in France.

French dads must take a week of paternity leave from July next year when new entitlements come into force. The mandatory week of paid paternity leave is part of a larger package. Entitlement will be doubled to a month off work.

French President Emmanuel Macron said, “We are going to increase paternity leave to one month. Within this month there will be seven days that will be mandatory for each new dad to take.”

He explained that the measure “promotes equality between women and men”.  Dad campaigners, women’s organisations and unions welcomed the new moves. Some trades unions say it doesn’t go far enough. However the French federation of small and medium sized businesses expressed regret at the timing given the economic pressures unleashed by the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s not clear yet how large the fines for skipping paternity leave will be.

French paternity leave

Previously France, like the UK, granted dads up to two weeks of paternity leave. Campaigners claim giving new fathers just a fortnight with their infant while mums can take up to year of maternity leave sends a message about which parent is most suited to bringing up a baby.

A spokesperson for the French government said, “Time is an essential factor in establishing an important link between the child and the parents. Currently this 14-day period is too short.” The new policy makes French paternity leave one of the most generous in Europe.

A French study last year recommended paternity leave should be increased to nine weeks. The government backed commission was led by a prominent psychiatrist. It drew a link between increased paternity leave and a reduced likelihood that a mother will suffer postnatal depression.

The UK government carried out a consultation on increasing paternity leave in 2019. However since Boris Johnson won the general election at the end of that year the issue seems to have been shelved.

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