Employees on sick leave

3 January 2022

This article briefly discusses the legal and financial consequences for the employer when one of the employees is ill.
In case of an accident at work (accident de travail) or a work-related illness (maladie professionnelle), a specific procedure applies, which is not discussed in this article.

Sickness benefits

If an employee gets ill in France, he or she must obtain a sick note (arrêt de travail) from the family doctor and send it to the employer and the health insurance fund (CPAM) within 48 hours.

After a three-day waiting period, the CPAM pays a daily allowance (the so-called Indemnités Journalières de Sécurité Sociale- IJSS) of about 50% of the net salary.

After a few months, this allowance is replaced by indemnities paid by the additional accident and death insurance (prévoyance) which the employer is obliged to subscribe to for all employees working in France.

The employer himself must:

  • In some cases, pay the employee his regular salary for the first 3 days of sick leave.
  • For several months, supplement the daily allowance up to a certain percentage of the salary.

These obligations depend on the provisions of the applicable Collective Labor Agreement and the years of service of the employee.

Therefore, the costs borne by the company are relatively limited.


Since the benefits paid by the authorities usually take some time to be implemented, the employer often pays 100% of the salary and is then subrogated to the employee’s rights.

Employer-employee relationship

The employee is exempt from work but remains bound by a loyalty obligation towards his employer.
Unlike in the Netherlands, the employer is not supposed to contact the employee on sick leave (sending a card or flowers is allowed) and the employee will usually not contact his employer either.

Medical visit with the médecin du travail upon return

An employee returning from a 30-day sick leave or from maternity leave must, within 8 days of returning to work, be seen by the médecin du travail (comparable to the occupational health and safety doctor) who declares the employee fit, unfit or conditionally fit (no travel, no carrying, partial home-working, etc.).

Termination of labour agreement during sick leave

An employer is not entitled to dismiss an employee on the basis of his/her health (this would be considered discrimination). Such a dismissal would be null and void and the employee may, upon request, be reintegrated in his/her position.

However, the employee can be dismissed if his long and/or frequent absence disorganizes the company. In that case, the employer has to prove this disorganization as well as the fact that he cannot replace the employee in another way (by using temporary workers, for example) and that it is therefore essential to hire another employee with a permanent contract (CDI).

Many Collective Bargaining Agreements provide for a garantie d’emploi, a certain period during which the job is guaranteed and during which it is forbidden to dismiss the employee because of his absence due to illness.

Finally, it is possible, if both parties agree, to terminate the labor agreement by means of a rupture conventionnelle.