Bonjour et happy MLK day!
Having worked in the U.S. for many years, I have become quite familiar with the « system » and made the best of the small benefits companies are usually able to give when it comes to vacation or unpaid time off. My family in France is always surprised and feels like I ambeing « exploited » when I explain the standards here (2 weeks off vs. 5-7 weeks off after 1 year of employment).
However, I believe that you can make the best out of what you have and that it makes you a more competitive employee internationally compared to a French worker with numerous benefits and high taxes tied to their employment. Everything has a price… If a company gives you more paid time off, they will also have to reduce your salary. Basic maths.
So today, let’s talk about the word:
// congé // masculine noun (often use in its plural form): leave, time off, vacation US or holiday GB
J’ai pu demander un congé autorisé de 30 jours. // I was able to request a personal leave of absence of 30 days.
Puisqu’il est engagé dans l’armée, il peut seulement demander une permission de 10 jours à la fois. // Since he is enlisted in the military, he can only request a leave of absence of 10 days at one time.
Après 1 an d’emploi, Sophie aura droit à 3 mois de congés de maternité. // After 1 year of employment, Sophie will be eligible for a 3-month maternity leave.
Combien de jours de congés payés souhaiteriez-vous demander pour cet été, Mme Dupont ? // How many days of paid leave would like to request for this summer, Ms. DuPont?
J’ai du demander un congé sans soldes pour pouvoir visiter ma famille en France. // I had to request an unpaid leave in order to visit my family in France.
Je vais pouvoir prendre 2 semaines de congés pendant les vacances scolaires de mes enfants. // I will be able to take 2 weeks off during my kids’ vacation.
Tips: Requesting a longer leave without losing your job
Whether you have been employed for 1 year or 10 years, this is a delicate issue because if you have the chance of being gainfully employed, you do not want to risk jeopardizing your position. Requesting a leave, especially in a « company first » corporate culture, can give the appearance that you no longer wish to work there, that you want time to look for another job or that you are high-maintenance…
So here are a few tips to get that conversation started with your manager:
- Acknowledge how happy you are in your current position, mentioning also the length of your tenure, and point out your recent achievements.
- Talk about a specific skill-set that an extended leave could support or help develop (ex. a leave in the country of the language you use in your daily work)
- Discuss how you would prefer to have the opportunity to telecommute during most of your trip in order to continue working on current projects (ex. set-up overseas, adjusted working hours, having your calls forwarded to a Skype number, etc.)
- Negotiate how much paid time off (Vacation) you can combine with an unpaid leave (Personal leave of absence); make sure you provide all relevant personal information too if you are requesting that leave in order to attend an important wedding or birth or funeral in your close family. This could qualify for FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act).
- Express thanks, be accomodating and work extra hard to show your worth as an employee!
I have been able to manage such arrangements in my different positions over the years, with only 1 that was combined with a change of employment. Mostly I have been able to take some vacation time, and then work remotely for a few weeks… Bonne chance!
PS: You may have noticed that the audio files were not working properly in the inserted player (stuck on « buffering… »). This issue has been resolved and the mp3 format should work by clicking on play in the little player. Thanks for following le mot du bonjour!