By transposing a European directive, the Court of Cassation requires that an employee on sick leave continues to enjoy paid leave during a work break.
This new rule worries employers. Two months ago, the Court of Cassation ruled that any employee can receive paid sick leave, even if it is not related to an accident at work or occupational disease. The Court based its decision on a European directive from 2003, but this has still not been transposed into French law.
The employers responded immediately. Medef mentions “major cause for concern”. The Confederation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (CPME) has even launched a petition against this measure. It was signed by more than 20,000 business leaders. In short, getting paid leave “without even working”that is “something big”, the CPME protests.
“This is a shocking decision for business leaders. Many are extremely upset.”Jean-Eudes du Mesnil, general secretary of the CPME
The employee unions believe that it is time for France to comply, even though they have been warning for twenty years about this right, which is still not included in the Labor Code. This summer, the Court of Appeal of Versailles, sued by the CGT, Solidaires and Force Ouvrière, ordered the State to compensate the three unions, because French law is still not in accordance with this European directive. A decision that was confirmed by the Court of Cassation a month ago.
One month of sick leave entitles you to two and a half days of leave
In theory, an employee who has been ill in recent months can now convert this into paid leave. One month of sick leave entitles you to two and a half days of leave, just like one month of work. The employer must still be aware of this guideline; Nowadays many employees have to go to the labor court to benefit from it. Currently, the Labor Code only provides for leave acquired before going on sick leave.
Some collective agreements already make it possible to accrue rest days during an absence, but this is rare. This is the case in metallurgy, a branch on which Sylvie Grandjean’s company depends. She gives the example of one of her employees: “He was injured just before the holidays in July and August. He returned after a four-month break. He was given ten days leave, plus the leave he has not taken since he was off. This inevitably has consequences because he is paid for more days not worked and that requires an adjustment to the organization of the service.” In the event of an absence of one year, for example due to long-term illness, this provides one month of paid leave.
A retroactive right
This threatens to cause a lot of unrest in the business community. In any case, many employers fear the worst, regardless of the size of their structure. One point in particular worries them: this right has retroactive effect. An employee who has left his company can claim this leave. This time not in the form of days off, logically, but in the form of money.
Employers expect rapid clarification and, above all, guarantees if the Labor Code is amended, so that employees cannot, for example, go back further than fifteen months. The Ministry of Labor does not specify a timetable for a possible change to the Labor Code and only explains it “state services” are currently analyzing the scope of this decision of the Court of Cassation. The Constitutional Council must also rule on this issue of paid leave in the event of an employee’s illness within one month.