Unpaid leave


An employee may want to take a break from work, whether to pursue a personal project, spend time with his or her family, or travel the world. The employer, on the other hand, may have an interest in ensuring that the employee returns to his or her position after this break. A sabbatical can be an appropriate way to reconcile the two.

During a sabbatical leave, the main obligations of the employment contract are suspended. The employee does not perform his or her job. The employer, on the other hand, does not pay his salary.


Some of the employee's rights depend on his or her years of seniority within the company. This is the case for the right to salary in case of illness or for the calculation of the notice period. When the unpaid leave lasts several months, should it be taken into account to determine the seniority? This question is of great importance.


Sabbatical leave differs from holidays in several respects. The employee is not paid during the unpaid leave. While the employer may allow the employee to take an unpaid leave, the employer is not obligated to grant the request. In addition, the purpose of holidays is for the employee to rest. During the sabbatical, however, the employee is free to engage in energy-intensive activities, such as trekking in the Himalayas or following the pilgrimage of St Jacques de Compostelle.


Unlike holidays, the employee does not have a right to unpaid leave. The employer is free to decide whether or not to grant it. The parties must agree on the principle and duration of the sabbatical leave.


As the name suggests, the employee does not receive a salary during the period of unpaid leave. The 13th salary may be reduced. The entitlement to a bonus will depend on the conditions under which it is granted.

Accident and illness

Sabbatical leave is an opportunity for the employee to engage in activities that can be dangerous. Hiking, scuba diving... The risk of accident is real. However, the employee is often no longer covered against loss of earnings in case of illness or accident. In most cases, the employee will not be entitled to his salary.

The employee may be prevented by accident or illness from using the unpaid leave for the desired activity. The recovery of such unpaid leave at a later date is at the discretion of the employer.

Social Security Contributions

Most social security contributions are deducted directly from salary. When an employee ceases to receive pay due to unpaid leave, his or her social security coverage may be greatly reduced. Employees who wish to continue to pay AVS and LPP (vested benefits insurance) contributions or to be covered in case of accident or illness must make arrangements.


During sabbatical leave, the employee is not legally protected against dismissal. This does not mean, however, that the employer may terminate an employee without further notice during this period. The rules applicable to dismissal during unpaid leave are special.

Trial period

The purpose of the probationary period is to allow the employee and the employer to determine whether they are mutually suitable. During certain absences of the employee, the trial period may be extended. The question of whether a leave of absence without pay extends the probationary period is paramount. Whether or not the employee is protected from termination at an inopportune juncture will depend on it, especially in the event of pregnancy or illness.

Sick child

Taking care of a sick child is a legal obligation. Under certain conditions, the employer is required to grant paid leave to an employee when he or she must care for a sick child. The duration of this leave is limited. Beyond a few days, if the employee has not found a childcare solution, the employer may consider his or her absence as an unpaid leave. 

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