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France in Focus: Understanding different countries annual leave

22 September 2017 4 min read

Paris skyline and city at night

France is often considered one of the most generous countries for holiday entitlement. In France on top of the ‘Conges Annuels’, or annual leave, of 25 days employees are also entitled to something known as RTT days or ‘Reduction du temps de travail’ translating as ‘Reduction of working time’ for those not blessed with the knowledge of the French language!

RTT days were brought in by the French government in 1998 in a bid to reduce rising unemployment and encourage people back into work by making conditions more favorable.

With these days being additional to France’s existing annual leave, a formula was agreed to work out the different RTT days each year, to fall in line with calendar years differences.

Number of RTT Days Allocated


The stipulation is that no more than 218 days should be worked by an employee each year, so taking into account the fact that each year contains a different number of weekends and public holidays, RTT days differ in number each year.

For example in 2016 the minimum number of RTT days was 10, meaning employees in France had an annual leave allowance of 35 days.

It is worth noting that many of France’s current 11 public holidays are no longer compulsory, meaning some organizations negotiate with their employees to make certain public holidays compulsory working days.

However in this case, RTT day allowance will likely not change as worked public holidays simply become ‘working days’ in the above formula.

RTT Taking Process

As RTT days add on a good chunk of extra days to an employee’s holiday allowance, in most cases another two weeks in fact, stipulations had to be made as to how and when employees can take their extra allowance.

The process differs according to how organizations are run individually; some may opt to allocate the RTT days to employees at random occurrences that suit the organization.

Others allow employees to apply for RTT to be taken on specific dates, similarly to normal annual leave booking.

French law also stipulates that RTT can only be taken as a full or half-day, and not as hours-based booking.

As RTT is in place to encourage maximum working days throughout the year, it’s normally encouraged that allowance is taken within a calendar year, however, if an employee fails too they can opt to roll over RTT until 31stof March at the very latest the next year.

Difficult to Manage?

For anyone who has made it this far in the article, you’re probably thinking France’s annual leave configurations would be a nightmare to administer.

Managing to allocate an extra 11 days annual leave per employee whilst ensuring no minimum staffing or key team member clashes would be an absolute nightmare when using paper and spreadsheets.

Without a proper system in place to automate much of the decision-making, prompt staff to take holidays within an allotted time, and keep track of all annual leave and RTT booking efficiently to pass on to payroll, the workload on HR and line managers would be crushing.

A system would need to allow for various different types of holidays to be booked, for example, allowances would need to be stipulated for both Annual Leave (25 Days) and RTT (X Days).

That way having both separate means line managers can prompt employees to take their various types of leads at different points throughout the year to ensure no excess carry over, especially with the stipulation that RTT must be taken within a 15 month period.

Different Countries, Different Stories

We hope we’ve shed a little light on what is clearly a quite complex way of working holidays.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to explore how other countries allocate and manage their holiday entitlements.

Need a system that can manage complex holiday allowances? Edays is easy to use, globally compliant absence management and holiday tracking software.

Request a demo >


Katrina Bennett People Director at edays
September 22, 2017

Katrina is edays' own People Director with significant UK and international experience in delivering people strategy and value-adding HR solutions across a range of organisations and sectors (including Arriva, Boots, Rolls Royce, the utility and charity sectors). Katrina has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources and is CIPD qualified.