Extension bereavement leave
An employee who loses a loved one, needs time to mourn. The employee receives a number of days of “bereavement leave” for this purpose. How many days of bereavement leave the employee receives depends on the relationship the employee has with the deceased. This bereavement leave is a type of leave of absence and is paid by the employer.
Up until now, employees were entitled to 3 days of bereavement leave if they lost a child or partner. As there was a consensus that this period was too short, a new law was introduced extending this bereavement leave from 3 to 10 days. The law also introduces some other changes.
In this newsletter, we inform you of the most important changes. The new rules apply to bereavement leave for deaths as from 25 July 2021.
Extension of bereavement leave from 3 to 10 days - for whom?
In the event of the death of the spouse or cohabiting partner of the employee, of the child of the employee, of the child of the spouse or cohabiting partner of the employee, the employee will from now on be entitled to 10 days of bereavement leave instead of 3 days.
An important change is that this rule will also apply in the event of the death of an employee's foster child in the framework of long-term foster care .
Of these 10 days, the employee can take:
- 3 days during the period starting on the day of the death and ending on the day of the funeral.
- 7 days of his/her choice within the year following the day of death.
Deviations from both periods in which these days must be taken, can be made at the request of the employee if the employer agrees.
Incapacity for work following new extended bereavement leave
The new law also stipulates what happens if a period of incapacity for work due to illness or an accident (other than an occupational disease, occupational accident or an accident on the way to or from work) immediately follows the bereavement leave due to the death of the employee's spouse or cohabiting partner, of the employee's child, of the child of the employee's spouse or cohabiting partner.
In case of incapacity for work, the employer must in principle continue to pay the employee's normal salary for a certain period of time. This is called the "guaranteed salary". White-collar workers receive 30 days of guaranteed salary.
However, when the incapacity for work immediately follows the above-mentioned bereavement leave, the bereavement leave will be added from the 4th day onwards to the total period of the guaranteed salary (both for blue collar and white-collar workers). This can only be done when the 4th day of the bereavement leave immediately follows the 3rd day of the bereavement leave. Concretely applied in an example, this means the following:
For example: a white-collar worker takes 10 consecutive days of bereavement leave. Immediately afterwards, he becomes incapacitated for work for 30 days. The 10 days of bereavement leave are paid by the employer. The last 7 days of the bereavement leave can be added to the period of the guaranteed salary, so that the employer does not have to pay 30 days of guaranteed salary, but only 23 days (30 - 7). For the last 7 days of the incapacity for work, the white-collar worker will receive incapacity benefits from the health insurance fund.
! If a collective labour agreement on company or sector level, the working regulations or the individual employment contract already grant more than 3 days of bereavement leave before the entry into force of this new law, these additional days of bereavement leave cannot be deducted from the guaranteed salary.
The new law has also extended the scope of bereavement leave to the death of a foster child of the employee in the framework of short-term foster care and to the death of the employee's foster father or foster mother in the framework of long-term foster care.
 Definition long-term foster care = foster care where the child stays in the foster family for at least 6 months and is registered in the population register of the municipality where the family resides.