Leave for the adoption of a child

Last update 06.10.2022

Adoption leave is granted to couples who adopt one or more children under the age of 12.

Adoption leave enables one partner to stay at home in order to take care of the recently adopted child(ren).

Who is concerned

Any employee or self-employed worker who adopts one or more children (who must be under 12 years old) is entitled to adoption leave. However, this type of leave can only be granted to one of the adoptive parents.

If both parents meet the requirements for adoption leave, they must decide which one will take the leave.

If only one of the partners qualifies, then they alone will be entitled to the leave.

The person who does not qualify for adoption leave will be entitled to 10 days of special leave (or longer, depending on the terms of the collective agreement adopted by their company).

At the end of the adoption leave, both parents may take parental leave.

Prerequisites

In order to be granted adoption leave and receive social benefits, the employee or self-employed worker must have been:

  • registered with the mandatory sickness and maternity insurance;
  • for at least 6 months in the 12 months preceding the start of the adoption leave.

How to proceed

Application for adoption leave

Employees

An employee who wishes to take adoption leave must:

  • apply for it with their employer, and submit with their application:
    • the certificate issued by the court, proving that the adoption procedure has been undertaken (adoption application); or
    • the letter of approval to proceed with the procedure, issued by the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth (Ministère de l'Éducation nationale, de l'Enfance et de la Jeunesse);
  • submit the adoption application or the letter of approval to proceed with the procedure to the National Health Fund (Caisse nationale de santé – CNS), together with their contact details and the start date of the adoption leave agreed with the employer.
The employer cannot turn down the employee's request for adoption leave.

Single-parent families

In the case of adoption by a single-parent family, the employer must return the original copy of the tax card to the employee, so that they can send it back to the competent tax office, along with the court-issued adoption order, to have the tax class changed.

Self-employed workers

Self-employed workers who wish to take adoption leave must submit the adoption application or the letter of approval to proceed to the CNS, together with their contact details and the start date of their adoption leave.

The CNS will then send them a 'declaration of honour' (attestation sur l'honneur) form, which must be completed, signed and returned to the CNS. On that form, the applicant must:

  • declare that they will be interrupting their professional activities during the adoption leave; and
  • state the date on which they intend to return to work.

Duration and amount of benefits

Duration of the adoption leave

Adoption leave is granted for 12 weeks from the start date communicated to the CNS.

Amount of benefits

During the adoption leave, the employee or self-employed worker is entitled to an allowance paid by the CNS. The amount of the adoption allowance is determined in the same way as sickness allowance.

The amount of the allowance is:

  • for an employee:
    • equivalent to the highest base salary received in the 3 months preceding the adoption leave;
    • plus, where applicable, the average amount of any supplementary and ancillary benefits received in the 12 months preceding the month before the start of the adoption leave;
  • for a self-employed worker: the contribution base that is applicable at the time the adoption leave is taken.

The financial allowance cannot be:

  • less than the social minimum wage; or
  • more than 5 times the social minimum wage.

The financial allowance cannot be combined with:

  • sickness benefits; or
  • any other earned income.

Effects of the adoption leave on the working relationship

Workers with a permanent employment contract

While on adoption leave, employees on permanent contracts are protected against dismissal throughout the entire period of leave, as well as, where applicable, during full-time parental leave.

If they are still on a trial period, the trial will be suspended from the day on which the employee submits the court order to their employer.

The remaining duration of the trial period will resume when the employee's protection against dismissal expires.

Workers with a fixed-term employment contract

In the case of a fixed-term employment contract, the trial period will not be suspended, nor will the fixed-term contract be extended. The contract will expire as normal at the end of the initial term.

Remuneration and registration

During adoption leave, the employer must not deregister the employee from the Joint Social Security Centre (Centre commun de la sécurité sociale - CCSS).

Additionally, the employer must:

  • suspend salary payments for the entire duration of the leave. The payslips and the salary declarations filed with the CCSS should therefore show a salary of zero (EUR 0). Benefits in kind (company car, lunch vouchers, etc.) can also be suspended during the adoption leave;
  • declare the absence of the employee to the CCSS in the monthly sick leave declarations.

The CNS will receive the information required to pay out the adoption allowance from the CCSS.

Protection against dismissal

While the employee is on leave, their employer may not dismiss them with notice, or summon them to a pre-dismissal interview.

This protection:

  • comes into force on the day on which the employee submits the court-issued adoption order to their employer; and
  • will remain valid for 12 weeks following the adoption.

If the employer decides to dismiss the employee in contravention of this prohibition, then the employee on adoption leave may apply to the President of the Labour Tribunal to have their dismissal annulled. The application to have the dismissal annulled must be filed within 15 days of the termination of the employment contract by the employer.

In the event of serious misconduct, the employment contract of an employee on adoption leave may be terminated. Employers can pronounce the employee's immediate suspension pending the decision of the labour tribunal, but they cannot send the actual letter of dismissal at their own initiative.

The employer must apply to the labour tribunal for authorisation to terminate the employment contract. The tribunal will assess the seriousness of the misconduct in question. The tribunal will decide whether or not to validate the employee's immediate suspension and, if validated, will pronounce the termination of the employee's contract. In the event of unfair dismissal without a suspension in the conditions stated above, the president of the tribunal will order the reinstatement of the employee into the business.

Employees can also file a claim for damages for unfair dismissal.

Leave and other benefits

Adoption leave is considered as a period of effective work, which means:

  • adoption leave must be taken into consideration when calculating the days of annual leave. Any leave not taken by the employee before the beginning of the adoption leave is deferred within the legal time limits;
  • the period of adoption leave must be taken into account when calculating the employee's length of service (seniority) and related entitlements;
  • employees on adoption leave will keep their position, or an equivalent position, in the company (the equivalent position must match the person's qualifications and provide a salary at least equivalent to the current salary);
  • employees will continue to be entitled to any benefits accrued before their adoption leave;
  • employees will be entitled to any improvements in working conditions that have been implemented during their absence.

Resignation and priority for re-employment

Employees who do not wish to return to work at the end of the adoption leave, in order to take care of their child, can resign without notice and without having to pay compensation for breach of contract. Resigning in this way, without notice, does not apply to employees who simply wish to change employers at the end of their adoption leave.

In addition, they can ask to be given priority for re-employment in the year following the end of their adoption leave. The request must be sent by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt. Having received such a request, the employer will then be required, for one year, to prioritise the employee when hiring for positions for which they are qualified. If and when they are re-employed, the employee must receive the same benefits that they enjoyed at the time of leaving the business.

Parental leave

At the end of the adoption leave, both parents are entitled to part-time or full-time parental leave.

If the employee decides to go on full-time parental leave, their employment contract will be suspended in full, and the employer must deregister the employee from the social security services.

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