Leftover holidays 2019? The do’s and don’ts in a nutshell.

The end of the year is approaching. Colleagues are making arrangements for the holidays between Christmas and New Year, a few forward-looking souls are already dreaming about their holiday destination for the summer of 2020 and the workaholics of the office? They don’t have time for time off. Let’s look into some frequently asked questions about holidays.

According to the Belgian legislation on holidays, an employee accrues holiday rights based on his professional performance in the preceding calendar year.

The calendar year during which the employee takes his holidays is referred to as the holiday year. The preceding calendar year, during which the entitlement is accrued, is referred to as the holiday reference year.

The same rules determine that an employee needs to take his legal holidays before the end of the holiday year. In other words, the employee is obliged to take all his legal holiday accrued in 2018, by December 31, 2019.

My employee asks if he can carry over holidays to the next year. Is that allowed?

The law states that carrying over leave is not allowed and that an employee who does not take all of his holidays consequently loses the non-taken days.

A white collar worker can therefore not ask his employer to pay him these days. For blue collar workers the rules are different: they receive their holiday pay directly from the National Holiday Fund and this holiday pay remains acquired, whether or not they take all their holidays.

Please note that in practice, a lot of Belgian companies allow for a limited number of legal holidays to be carried over and to be taken within a limited timeframe.

What are the possible consequences for me as an employer if not all the holidays are taken?

As an employer, you have the obligation to ensure that your employees take their holidays. Not meeting that legal obligation can be sanctioned with an administrative and even a criminal fine.

In practice, you need to make sure to inform your employees sufficiently about the fact that they need to take their outstanding holidays. If your employee, notwithstanding your efforts to warn him, decides not to take the days he is entitled to, then you will not risk any of the aforementioned sanctions.

What if it is not possible for my employee to take his holidays?

If the employment agreement of your employee was suspended, e.g. because of a long absence due to illness or if your employee could not take his holidays because of a force majeure, you need to pay the employee the balance of the outstanding legal holidays.

My company grants the employees extra-legal holidays on top of their legal holidays. What does the law state with regard to those days?

Belgian legislation does not provide for a legal framework when it comes to extra-legal holidays. The practical consequence is that you as an employer can determine the playing field and can consequently state that extra-legal holidays can be carried over. The rules are best set forth in the working regulations of the company.

How can I keep an overview of the outstanding holidays of my employees?

If your HR department does not have an own calendar to keep track of the holiday entitlement of the employees, Pro-Pay can assist with a practical tool. Your Easy Absence Planner (YEAP) can assist you in the management of all types of absences, including all sorts of leave. It is of the greatest importance to report all the absences of your employees in view of your legal obligations as an employer and the entitlement of the employee to certain social benefits.

With YEAP, the management and tracking of the holiday counters of your employees is really straight forward.


  • Provide your employees with an overview of their outstanding legal holidays.
  • Remind them of the rules regarding taking and carrying over holidays.
  • If this has not yet been dealt with: Determine the rules regarding taking and carrying over extra-legal holidays, preferably in the working regulations.

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