France to cut back on sick leave benefits

France to cut back on sick leave benefits
Xavi Sanchez

The French parliament has passed new cost-cutting measures increasing the number of days of unpaid sick leave for workers in both the public and private sectors.

Starting in 2012, government workers will forgo pay on their first day of sick leave, saving the government some 244 million, newspaper Le Parisien reports. 

In the private sector, unpaid sick leave will climb from 3 to 4 days, representing about 200 million in savings.

The French National Assembly voted on the two measures on Tuesday night as it worked on hammering out a budget for 2012.

French ministers have said that paid sick leave costs the government too much—an estimated 6.6 billion per year.

The move to tighten access to sick leave benefits follows a speech given by President Nicolas Sarkozy in Bordeaux in which he highlighted the importance of combating any abuses of France’s social system in order to preserve it.

The measures met with strong criticism from labour unions, which called the cutbacks “unacceptable.” The CGT (Confédération générale du travail) public workers union indicated that it would redouble its efforts to counter the cuts in the coming days.


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