Flexibilization of parental leave and other thematic leaves

In one of our previous newsletters (click here), we informed you that the law of September 2, 2018 on parental leave and the law of September 2, 2018 on the flexible use of thematic leaves had appeared in the Belgian State Gazette. We also informed you that we were waiting for a Royal Decree to be published, which would provide for the rules on the allowances and the further modalities for application of the leaves.

This long awaited Royal Decree has been published in the Belgian State Gazette of May 22, 2019. Let’s refresh.


What exactly are the changes to parental leave?

The introduction of the 1/10th parental leave

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

The new law brings an additional possibility to the table for employees working full time: the possibility to reduce their activities by 1/10th and to take up parental leave either half a day per week or a full day every two weeks. This specific working time reduction can be applied for 40 months in total (to be taken in periods of 10, 20, 30 or 40 months).

Contrary to other types of parental leave, the entitlement to this possibility will not automatically be granted to employees meeting the conditions. The employer’s consent will be required.

It is possible to combine the different types of parental leave (full time, 1/2nd, 1/5th, 1/10th) and to go from one type of leave to the other.

A more flexible approach to parental leave

With regard to taking full-time and hall-time parental leave, the new law foresees a more flexible approach when it comes to the modalities.

Full-time parental leave

The employee can currently suspend his working time full time for 4 months, to be taken in periods of at least 1 month. From now on, the employee can also suspend his working time full time in periods of one week instead of one month, provided that the employer agrees to this. This entails that the employee can suspend his activities for maximum 16 weeks.

Half-time parental leave

Currently, full time working employees can suspend their working time by half for 8 months, to be taken in minimum periods of 2 months. From now on, these employees will also be able to suspend their working time by half in periods of one month instead of two, provided that the employer agrees to this.

Due to splitting the parental leave in periods of weeks and months, it is possible that at the end of the parental leave, the employee is left with a balance that is less than 4 weeks (in the situation of a full-time parental leave in weeks) or only one month (in the situation of a half-time parental leave). In this case, the employee can take the balance without the prior approval of the employer.


And what are the changes to 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 modalities:

  1. Full time during a period of maximum 12 months per patient, to be taken in periods of minimum 1 month and maximum 3 months. From now on, the employee can take up this leave in periods of weeks (one, two or three weeks) provided that the employer agrees.
  2. Nothing changes for the half-time and the 1/5th suspension. These types of leave are to be taken in periods of minimum 1 month.


Final observations

If the employer refuses to grant the entitlement to the 1/10th parental leave or the new flexible modalities to take a thematic leave, he needs to inform the employee hereof in writing. Please be aware that certain legal deadlines have to be met in this respect.

The employee will be eligible to an indemnity from the Belgian unemployment authorities (RVA/ONEM). The authorities will pay the indemnities in function of the chosen type of employment suspension.

The new type of parental leave and the more flexible approach as to the modalities, will enter into force for applications introduced to the employer as from June 1, 2019.


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