Holiday shutdown in France

Holiday shutdown in France: Everything you need to know.

The end-of-year celebrations are approaching! Some companies might wish to close between Christmas and New Years as business is slowing down. Other companies might consider closing with the aim to build a corporate culture of self-care by encouraging their employees to take time off.

In either case, shutting down business for a certain period comes with some challenges.

Holiday shutdown: can vacation days be imposed?

Paid time off is one of the main mandatory employee benefits in France. As a general rule, employee and employer agree together on when vacation days are taken.
However, in case of a holiday shutdown in France, the employer can impose on the employee to take vacation days. Yet, a strict procedure has to be respected.

Procedure to be respected

First, the employer must seek the opinion of the works council CSE (if it exists). The simple consultation is sufficient, regardless of the opinion given.
Next, the employer will be required to inform employees of the closing period at least two months prior to the closing date.

Risks of a company closure

As a side note, the company should be aware that there are rules regarding splitting the 4 weeks of main leave. In France, these have to be taken between May and October of each year. If these rules are not respected, employees can acquire additional vacation days.

Holiday shutdown: newly hired employees

Some employees might not yet have acquired enough vacation days to cover the shutdown period. Even though the employer can impose to take unpaid leave in that case, this can generate tensions between the employer and employee. Instead, many companies decide to offer their employees the possibility of taking paid time off in advance.
If done right, together with other incentives such as gift vouchers for Christmas, closing the company between Christmas and New Years can bring many benefits.