Time savings account for employees in the private sector

14 May 2019


Lorraine Chéry

The law of 12 April 2019 introducing a time savings account (“compte épargne-temps”, hereinafter referred to as “CET”) and modifying 1° the Labour Code; 2° the Civil Code: 3° the modified law of 4 December 1967 on income tax, was published in the Mémorial A no. 262 of 24 April 2019. The law came into force on 28 April 2019.

The purpose of introducing the time savings account is to allow greater flexibility when it comes to managing working time for both companies and employees, particularly with regard to finding a healthy work-life balance.

Introducing the CET: the CET can be introduced by a company for the benefit of its employees with an employment contract, as soon as they have been working for the company for two years. The CET can be introduced by a collective bargaining agreement, or a sectoral or national agreement on inter-professional social dialogue. 

In any case, paying into the CET is optional, and an employee cannot be forced to do so.

Paying into the CET: the CET is individual and is counted in working hours. If requested in writing by the employee, this account can be paid into with:

  • additional leave days granted beyond the 26 days of statutory leave;
  • additional leave days generated by applying a reference period longer than one month as part of a flexible working time plan, as well as the excess balances of such reference periods;
  • overtime hours;
  • compensatory days off granted after working on a Sunday;
  • compensatory days off if one of the statutory bank holidays falls on a Sunday;
  • a maximum of five days of statutory leave that could not be taken during the calendar year due to the employee being ill, on maternity leave or parental leave in order to be able to take advantage of it after 31 March the following year.

The CET time balance is limited to 1,800 hours.

Use of the CET: the use of CET hours is granted by the employer on the basis of a written request by the employee. In principle, the use of the hours is fixed according to the employee’s preferences, unless the needs of the department or the justified preference of the other employees contradict them. In all circumstances, if the employee asks to use their CET hours, the leave must be fixed at least one month in advance, unless the social partners agree otherwise, depending on the duration of the requested absence.

In addition, if the employee falls ill while using the rights accumulated by virtue of the CET, sick days recognised as such by a medical certificate are not to be regarded as leave days used up under the CET system and are credited back to it. The same applies when extraordinary leave is taken (e.g.: paternity leave, leave to move house, etc.)

Employee protection: during the period in which the rights acquired by virtue of the CET are used, the employee is treated as though they are on paid leave and the employer must keep the absent employee’s job or, if this is not possible, a similar job corresponding to their qualifications and with at least the equivalent salary.

Settling the CET: in the following cases, the balance of leave days available in the CET is settled by the employer paying a compensatory allowance:

  • if the company ceases trading after the employer dies, becomes physically incapacitated or is declared bankrupt,
  • if the employment contract is automatically terminated on the day on which the employee is granted an old-age pension or at the latest at the age of 65,
  • if the employment contract is automatically terminated in the circumstances provided for in article L. 125-4 of the Labour Code[1],
  • if the employment contract is terminated by one of the parties or by mutual agreement,
  • in the event of the employee's death.  

Employer's obligation: the employer must establish a system to make sure that detailed, accurate CET records are kept. They must make sure that the employee can check their own account at any time and, thanks to a monthly report, can make sure that the hours of rest inserted with the CET correspond to their initial preferences. 

Lastly, with regard to information and consultation, the staff representative will, in accordance with amended Article L. 414-3 of the Labour Code, be responsible for monitoring the implementation and proper execution of the CET. 

In case of bankruptcy of the employer: the debts resulting from settling the CET are guaranteed up to a threshold equivalent to double the benchmark minimum social wage, and given the status of super priority creditors.


[1] In accordance with Article L. 125-4 of the Labour Code, the employment contract is automatically terminated:

  1. on the day on which a decision is issued granting the employee a disability pension; if the employee continues to pursue or resumes a professional activity in accordance with the legal provisions governing the disability pension, a new employment contract may be entered into;
  2. on the day on which the employee's entitlement to sickness benefits expires;
  3. for employees who are unable to work in their last position, on the day on which a decision by the Joint Committee is announced to arrange an external redeployment;
  4. on the day on which somebody with a disability is no longer recognised as a disabled employee;
  5. on the day on which confirmation of the decision to return the employee to the ordinary labour market is sent to the disabled employee by the Guidance Committee or by the competent courts.