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Belgium – Changes to special leave

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New Belgian legislation introduces more flexibility into applications for parental leave, leave for palliative care and leave for medical assistance to a seriously sick member of the household or family.

The Royal Decree of 5 May 2019 amending various provisions concerning special leave enters into force on 1 June 2019. This Royal Decree leaves in place existing arrangements concerning parental leave, leave for palliative care or leave for medical assistance to a seriously sick member of the household or family. However, what does change is the amount of flexibility available for requests from 1 June 2019 onwards as set out below.

Parental leave

The following provisions now apply to parental leave:

  • Employees have the possibility of reducing work performance by one tenth, assuming the employee is in full-time employment. The maximum duration of the suspension is 40 months, subject to the employer’s agreement, to be split into periods of ten months or a multiple thereof.
  • There is also the possibility to split the right to full-time parental leave per week, subject to the employer’s agreement. Each request can relate to several non-continuous periods of the week (or a multiple thereof), provided that the requested weeks are spread over a maximum period of three months.
  • Employees can also split the right to part-time parental leave per month, subject to the employer’s agreement.

Employers can refuse these various arrangements, within one month of the request, but cannot postpone the exercise of these rights.

Leave for medical assistance to a seriously sick member of the household or family

It is now possible for employees to reduce the minimum suspension period of an employment contract to one, two or three weeks, subject to the employer’s agreement. If, as a result, the remaining part of the maximum suspension period is less than one month, the employee may take the remainder without the employer’s agreement. The employer can refuse the exercise of this right within two working days following the receipt of the request.

Leave for palliative care

An employee may now submit a maximum of three (previously the maximum was two) certificates for leave for palliative care for the same person.

Action Point

It is important for employers to pay particular attention to these new arrangements when considering any request for one of these forms of special leave as of 1 June 2019.

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