Public holidays in 2021
As 2020 is gradually coming to an end, we want to provide you with an overview of the Belgian public holidays for 2021, and a reminder of the rules applicable to replacement days.
Public holidays in 2021
- New Year's Day - Friday, January 1st 2021
- Easter Monday - Monday, April 5th 2021
- Labour Day - Saturday, May 1st 2021
- Ascension Day - Thursday, May 13th 2021
- Whit Monday - Monday, May 24th 2021
- Belgian National Holiday - Wednesday, July 21st 2021
- Assumption Day - Sunday, August 15th 2021
- All Saints’ Day - Monday November 1st 2021
- Armistice Day - Thursday, November 11th 2021
- Christmas - Saturday, December 25th 2021
If a public holiday falls on a Sunday or another day which is normally a non-working day (usually a Saturday), it must be replaced by a replacement day on a normal working day. In theory, in Belgium, employees cannot work on public holidays. The employer, however, is obliged to pay the employee a normal salary for that holiday.
In the list above, the public holidays that fall on a non-working day in the course of 2021, have been marked in bold. Employees are entitled to three replacement days in 2021: one for Labour Day (1 May), Assumption Day (15 August) and Christmas (25 December).
The law of January 4, 1974 provides for the manner in which replacement days should be determined. In theory, the Joint Industrial Committee competent for each sector, may decide when replacement days shall fall, but we don’t see this very often in practice. If the Joint Industrial Committee has not taken its decision before October 1, 2020, each company may decide for itself when the replacement days for its employees will fall in 2021. The company may take that decision in one of the following ways:
- By the Works Council;
- If the company has no Works Council, by agreement between the union representatives and the employer;
- If the company has a Works Council nor union representatives, by agreement between all the employees and the employer;
- If no agreement can be reached for the whole company, individual agreements may be drawn up between the employer and each employee.
If replacement days cannot be decided upon using one of the solutions above, they automatically fall on the next normal working day following the public holiday (usually a Monday).
Employers must inform their employees of the replacement days for 2021 by displaying a signed and dated document on the company premises before December 15, 2020.
A sample of such a document can be obtained from your payroll administrator at Pro-Pay.