Changes regarding parental and thematic leave

In the Belgian State Gazette of September 26th, 2018, the law of September 2nd, 2018 on parental leave and the law of September 2nd, 2018 on the flexible use of thematic leave appeared.

What has changed?

Parental leave

1/10th parental leave

An employee with children younger than 12 years old (or 21 for a handicapped child) can currently – under certain conditions – take up parental leave. The employee can reduce his worktime by 20%, by half or even completely (for a limited time only).

The new law brings an additional possibility to the table: the possibility to reduce worktime by 1/10th and to take up parental leave for either a half a day per week or a full day every two weeks. This specific worktime reduction can be applied for 40 months.

In contrast to other forms of parental leave, the entitlement to this possibility will not automatically be granted to employees fulfilling the conditions. The employer’s consent will be required.

A more flexible approach to taking up parental leave

With regards to taking up full-time and hall-time parental leave, the new law foresees a more flexible approach.

Full-time parental leave

The employee can currently suspend his worktime full-time for 4 months, taken up in periods of at least 1 month.
In the future, the employee can also suspend his worktime full-time in periods of one week instead of one month, provided that the employer agrees to this.

Half-time parental leave

Currently, full-time employees can suspend their worktime by half for 8 months, taken up in periods of 2 months.
In the future, these employees will also be able to suspend their worktime by half in periods of one month instead of two, provided that the employer agrees to this.

Finally, the legislator also provides the possibility to spread the half-time or 1/5th parental leave over a period that the employer and employee have agreed upon. The reduction of worktime can therefore be freely planned, provided that the worktime is reduced on average by half or 1/5th over the course of the related period and that the rules on part-time employment are respected.

Thematic leave: medical assistance

An employee may – under certain conditions – take up thematic leave to take care of a severely ill family member or relative according to the following modes:

  • Full-time during a period of maximum 12 months per patient, to be taken in periods of minimum 1 month and maximum 3 months.
    In the future, the employee can take up this leave in periods of weeks, provided that the employer agrees.
  • Nothing changes for the half-time and 1/5th suspension. These forms of leave are taken up in periods of at least 1 month.

Do take note of the following: The employee cannot make use of these additional modalities for parental leave and thematic leave yet. We are still waiting for the Royal Decrees to arrange the benefits and other modes.

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