Every pregnant woman who carries out a professional activity (as an employee, self-employed or apprentice) is entitled to maternity leave.
It consists of antenatal leave and postnatal leave.
The leave helps, on one hand, to protect the health of the women concerned and, on the other, enables them to devote themselves fully to their child after having given birth.
In addition, during their pregnancy and maternity, the employees and apprentices are entitled to certain contractual guarantees and adjustments to their working conditions.
At the end of the maternity leave, the employee, apprentice or self-employed has the possibility of taking parental leave.
Who is concerned
All pregnant women in professional occupations (as an employee, apprentice or self-employed) subject to insurance are granted maternity leave provided that they do not benefit from other more favourable legal or contractual provisions.
- women bound by a contract of employment;
- women with an apprenticeship contract;
- those with a profession under the self-employed status.
Pregnant women must have been covered by the sickness and maternity insurance for at least 6 months in the 12 months preceding the start of maternity leave.
The pregnant woman must send a medical certificate indicating the presumed date of delivery to the National Health Fund (Caisse nationale de santé - CNS).
The medical certificate indicating the expected date of delivery must be established during the last 12 weeks of pregnancy. The date of establishment of the certificate is crucial.
Example: a certificate issued before the beginning of the 29th week of pregnancy, i.e. before the last 12 weeks of pregnancy, is not accepted and will be returned to the applicant.
The pregnant woman must also, in order to be entitled to the maternity leave, transmit a medical certificate which indicates the presumed date of delivery to her employer during the last 12 weeks of the pregnancy.
If she wishes to take parental leave at the end of her maternity leave, she must submit an application for parental leave no later than 2 months before the start of the maternity leave (the parental leave allowance is paid by the Children's Future Fund (Caisse pour l'avenir des enfants - CAE).
How to proceed
Applying for maternity leave
The request for maternity leave is made by sending the CNS a medical certificate indicating the expected due date.
This certificate must be established in the last 12 weeks of pregnancy, and not before. It is possible to determine the certificate's first day of validity by using the maternity leave calculation tool on the CNS website.
Antenatal leave begins 8 weeks before the expected date of delivery. This date must be confirmed by a recent medical certificate (established no earlier than 12 weeks before the expected date of delivery).
If the birth occurs before the expected date indicated on the certificate of pregnancy, the days of antenatal leave not taken are added to the postnatal leave (however, the total duration of maternity leave may not exceed 20 weeks).
If the birth occurs after the expected date, antenatal leave is extended to the actual date of the childbirth without reducing the duration of the postnatal leave (12 weeks).
Postnatal leave continues for 12 weeks after the actual date of delivery.
if the expected date of delivery is 4 May, but the actual delivery takes place on 2 May, i.e. 2 days before the due date:
- the medical certificate stating the expected date of delivery can be issued as from 8 February, i.e. within the 12 last weeks of pregnancy;
- antenatal leave starts on 9 March, i.e. 8 weeks (56 calendar days) before the expected date of delivery;
- postnatal leave ends on 26 July, i.e. 84 calendar days from the actual date of delivery + 2 days deferred from antenatal leave.
After childbirth, a copy of the newborn's birth certificate is to be submitted to: CNS - Financial benefits department.
Amount of the maternity allowance
During maternity leave, a woman who is engaged in a professional activity (salaried, apprenticeship or self-employed) is entitled to a maternity allowance.
This allowance is paid by the CNS (and not by their employer in the case of the employee or the apprentice).
In essence, it corresponds to:
- for the female employee or apprentice:
- the highest salary received during the 3 months prior to the maternity leave;
- where applicable, the average amount of complementary and accessory benefits received during the 12 months preceding the month prior to the start of the maternity leave may be added;
- for the self-employed woman: the contribution base applicable at the time the maternity leave is taken.
Financial maternity benefits cannot be:
In the case of part-time work, the threshold is established according to the hourly minimum social wage.
The maternity allowance can not be cumulated with sickness benefits, nor with any other professional income.
Maintaining the employment relationship
During the maternity leave, the employment contract is maintained and is therefore considered a period of actual work.
The employers is therefore required to:
- take maternity leave into consideration when calculating the days of annual leave. The days of annual leave not taken by the employee before to the start of the maternity leave can be deferred within the legal deadlines (until 31 March of the following year);
- take into account the period of maternity leave when calculating seniority and related rights;
- keep the employee's position open while she is on maternity leave, or, if this is not possible, an equivalent position corresponding to her qualifications and with a salary at least equivalent to her current salary level;
- maintain the advantages acquired by the employee prior to her maternity leave;
- allow her to benefit from any improvements in working conditions introduced during her maternity leave.
During the maternity leave, the employee or apprentice does not receive either her salary or the benefits in kind which she was entitled to before her leave (meal vouchers, company car etc.). Those are replaced by the maternity benefits.
Termination of the working relationship
At the end of the maternity leave, the employee may, in order to bring up her child, refrain from returning to her job without any notice period to be complied with (by sending the employer a letter of resignation at the end of the maternity leave), and without having to pay a termination indemnity.
For a period of one year, however, she benefits from re-employment priority and all the advantages she had before leaving.
Resignation without notice to the employer is established only in favour of women who decide to give up their job in order to devote themselves fully to the education of their child.
Resignation without notice is not possible for women who simply wish to change employer at the end of their maternity leave.
Forms / Online services
Modèle de lettre de démission suite au congé de maternité
Modèle de lettre de démission suite au congé de maternité