First job

By Priscilla Gout | Published on 22/05/2014 – Updated on 04/12/2019

Each employee is entitled to 5 weeks of vacation per year which he contributes progressively, at the rate of 2.5 days per month. But when can he start enjoying his days off?


This is the fear of any new employee: waiting a whole year before being entitled to paid leave. A rule that can be circumvented, as well as well-informed employees can optimize their leave and earn additional rest days in addition to the 5 legal weeks. How to do ? Discover the answers to all the questions you have about paid leave!

How do I schedule vacation days without waiting for the end of my first year in business?

To take a vacation during the first year following your hiring, you will use the anticipated leave or early leave. With the agreement of your employer, you can indeed take the days that you accumulate each month (2.5 days per month of effective work) before the opening of your rights, you do not have the obligation to carry out a full reference period. This possibility may be offered by company or branch agreement, or directly by the employer.

What are the consequences if I take early leave?

If you terminate your employment contract without having been able to benefit from all of your leave, you will receive a compensatory indemnity for paid leave. If you take all your leave in advance and stay in this mode of operation, you will not receive this allowance on the day of your departure. This is the only concrete consequence of taking leave in advance, all the others are up to your own organization. If you want to take three weeks of vacation during the summer, it is in your best interest not to abuse the vacation in advance!

What about unpaid leave?

If you join the company on October 1 and wish to take a week off in November, you will not have accumulated enough leave since, having worked for a month, you will have acquired 2.5 days (the purpose of the leave being rest from work). You will therefore not be able to take leave or leave in advance. There remains the option of unpaid leave, for which you will not be paid, as its name suggests. To request a leave without pay, you must obtain the approval of your employer.

How are paid holidays calculated?

In France, employees are entitled to at least 5 weeks of paid leave, or even 30 working days of rest once they have worked a full year with the employer: i.e. from June 1 to May 31 of the year next. This is the so-called reference period for the calculation of days. During this period, according to the number of days acquired, the count in working days of leave is made in favor of the employee: for example, 26.5 days contributed are rounded up to 27 days. To obtain their 5 weeks of leave, employees contribute 2.5 working days each month (Monday to Saturday).

What is the reference period?

Since the law of March 22, 2012, it is no longer necessary to have worked at least 10 days of actual work to qualify for paid leave. To total these 5 weeks of paid leave, the calculation is therefore made over the reference period, generally between June 1 and May 31 of the following year. However, this period may vary according to the company’s collective agreement. In the construction and public works professions, for example, it is between April 1 and March 31.

Many companies impose holidays, especially when they close their doors annually. An employee who has not acquired all his leave to cover this period of closure may be compensated for partial unemployment. In this case, it is up to the employer to complete the formalities. Finally, if departures on leave are generally set by the employer, in consultation with the other employees, spouses working in the same company are entitled to simultaneous leave.

Can you take all your days off consecutively?

Unless otherwise agreed, a maximum of 24 working days must be taken in a row, the 5th week having to be given separately. If the leave does not exceed 12 working days, it must be continuous. On the other hand, a leave of more than 12 working days can be divided by the employer with the agreement of the employee (or of the staff representatives in the event of closure of the company). In such a situation, 12 days of leave must be taken continuously between two weekly rest periods between May 1 and October 31. The employer can also impose the splitting of the 5th week to close the business.

For employees, the 5th week can be postponed, over a maximum of six years, in view of a sabbatical leave or leave to set up a business, for example.

You will soon be able to postpone your sick leave

How do I get additional leave?

Little known rule, the splitting of the main leave of 24 days makes it possible to gain additional days of leave when part of the leave is taken outside the legal period: from May 1 to October 31. Concretely, if the employee takes between 3 and 5 days off outside this period, he gains an additional working day and up to 2 additional working days if he takes 6 days or more. However, there are no additional days provided for the splitting of the 5th week of leave.

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