Employees on leave for non-professional illness will now acquire paid leave, which will be limited to four weeks over a year, ruled the Council of State, questioned by the government on the transposition of a European directive. The minimum duration of paid leave is four weeks per year in Europe compared to five weeks in France, but in France, absences due to illness of non-professional origin did not until now give rise to the acquisition of paid leave.

“The legislator is not required, to ensure the conformity of French law with the Constitution and the law of the European Union, to confer on periods of absence due to illness the same effect of acquisition of leave rights as periods of effective work,” indicates the Council of State, in an opinion consulted Thursday by AFP. The highest administrative court has also limited to three years the retroactivity of compensation due to employees who have been ill and lost leave as a result since December 1, 2009, the date of entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. “The action for payment may relate to the sums due for the last three years from this day or, when the employment contract is terminated, to the sums due for the three years preceding the termination of the contract”, specifies the opinion.

Employers’ organizations had strongly protested against the acquisition of paid leave during absences due to illness, and were alarmed by the amount of sums that companies could have had to pay retroactively. “Our work, carried out in concert with the government, has borne fruit,” said Medef President Patrick Martin in a message on the social network His CPME counterpart François Asselin estimated on the same network that “an absurdity has finally been corrected”.

Concerning the possibility of carrying over leave acquired during sick leave, the Council of State decided that it must be at least 15 months, the Court of Justice of the European Union requiring that this duration be “substantially” greater to the reference period for acquiring the right to annual leave, which is one year.

Labor Minister Catherine Vautrin promised in mid-January that “our country will obviously comply with European legislation”. While wanting to transpose the European directive, the government had called for limiting the acquisition of paid leave in the event of non-professional illness to four weeks. The Council of State indicates that the government intends to propose an amendment as part of a bill adapting to European Union law which must be examined in the Assembly from Monday.