Sunday, May 01, 2011

Why can't we have replacement holiday in France?

This year there are three public holidays in France fall on Sunday:
1 May = Labor Day
8 May = World War II Victory Day
25 Dec = Christmas

May is usually the month of holiday as people will take the "pont" or the bridge resulting in long weekends of 3-4 days. This year, since both important holidays fall on Sunday and Ascension and Pentecôte fall in Jun, May 2011 has become "No holidays May".

Some companies do compensate their employees by adding days to the annual leaves or adjusting their RTT (a result from working 35 hours a week), but not everyone get compensated, it is rather a "tant pis pour toi" or "too bad for you" situation.

I wonder why can't France have replacement holiday just like in Malaysia. In Malaysia, when a holiday falls on Sunday, the next Monday is automatically a holiday. This applies for public sector and majority of private sector.

"Well, you already have too many holidays in France, you should not complaint just because you lose 2 - 3 days", some might say. For me, it is a yes and no statement. True that we have 5 weeks vacations + 2 weeks RTT + about 10 days public holidays, but you are forced to take leaves for certain situations:
1. The laws require that a baby sitter could work maximum 48 hours a week. That's less than 10 hours a day and unfortunately, we do need more than 10 hours a day for work + transport. To respect this, we have to take half day off every week, that's about 26 days a year, shared between hubby and me = 13 days per year. That means our RTT is pretty much gone just for this purpose.

2. A babysitter enjoys 5 weeks vacation just like everyone else. So when babysitter is on holiday, unless we find a solution (grandparents, another babysitter), we will have to be on leave to take care of our child.

3. A babysitter could be required to attend some trainings. In our case, the sitter will be gone for a total of ten days, spread during several weeks. We have not yet found an alternative so one week for hubby and one week for me are gone as well.

4. When a child is sick, the babysitter might not want to take him/her. In this case, one parent has to stay home. Some companies do have sick leaves but there are limited to certain days.

5. Some government agencies only open from Monday to Friday when you and me are working, so if you need to deal with these agencies, and you no dot live close by, you will need to take some time off.

Due to all these situations, we do not have the privilege to have personal vacation just to chill off, so 3 days of replacement holiday could be really cool. I know I'm dreaming. :-)


  1. Actually, if you take a year beginning on the 1st of March to avoid the issue of leap year then 4 of the 11 eleven public holidays in france happen on the same week day : 1st May, 8th May, Christmas and New year's day. So depending on the years you'll get either 4 "ponts" or 4 lost holidays.
    Also on those 11 holidays, only 3 are on a fixed week day : Easter Monday, Ascencion Thursday and Pentecote Monday (don't know the english for those two). And a previous government kind of cancelled Pentecote...
    I can't help but think that such variation on the number of working days from one year to another is also an inconvenience for the employers.

  2. That's why France should have replacement holiday so every year you will have the same amount of public holidays no matter which day the holiday falls on. Convenient for companies and great news for employees!

  3. I wish for that too.. over in Germany, it is the same as France, so not good hor...

    BTW, your girl is so cute!!

    CL (

  4. You should consider yourself lucky and leave it at that.
    I live in Canada and I get a mere fraction of "paid" time off in comparison to you.
    Just enjoy it!