Maternity leave

Here you can find out the basics about maternity leave for:

You can also read about some special situations, such as:


Maternity leave for employees in the Belgian system

If you are employed on a Belgian contract, you are entitled to 15 weeks maternity leave (19 weeks in the case of a multiple birth).

Length of leaveIf you are employed on a Belgian contract, you are entitled to 15 weeks maternity leave (19 weeks in the case of a multiple birth).

This is divided into ‘prenatal’ and ‘postnatal’ leave.

  • Prenatal leave: one week of maternity leave is considered as obligatory prenatal leave, and can only be taken before the birth. You can start your maternity leave a maximum of 6 weeks (8 weeks for multiples) before the expected due date.

    If your baby is born early and you had not taken one week of maternity leave prior to the birth, you essentially ‘lose’ this week of leave, as your maternity leave is still calculated as having started one week before the birth.

    Note: any sick days taken during the 6 weeks (8 weeks for multiples) before the due date are considered as part of your maternity leave, even if the reason for the absence is unrelated to the pregnancy.

    However, any office closures or bank holidays during this period (i.e. when you are off work through no fault of your own) are not considered as part of your maternity leave.

  • Postnatal leave: with the exception of the one obligatory week of prenatal leave and any other maternity leave you took before the birth, you simply use the remainder of your maternity leave after your baby is born.

    Nine of these weeks are mandatory postnatal leave. This means that your postnatal leave will be a minimum of nine weeks and a maximum of 14 weeks (minimum of 11 and maximum of 16 weeks for a multiple birth).
FormalitiesTo receive payment for your maternity leave:
  • send a medical certificate to your mutuelle that states the expected due date of your baby and start date of your maternity leave.

    Check with your mutuelle when they need to receive this certificate – they may ask you to send it only once you start your maternity leave.

    Once you have sent the certificate, they will then send you the relevant paperwork in relation to your maternity leave rights and payments.

  • within one month of the birth, send an ‘extrait d’acte de naissance’ / ‘geboorteaangifte’ to your mutuelle so they can calculate the end date of your maternity leave (and to register your baby with your mutuelle and to receive a ‘prime de naissance’ (birth bonus) of around €300 from your mutuelle).

  • at the end of your maternity leave, you need to send a completed ‘attestation de reprise de travail’ / ‘bewijs van werkhervatting of van werkloosheid’ (form signalling that you have resumed work) to your mutuelle.

    Your mutuelle will have sent you this form earlier in your pregnancy.
How much will I get paid?For the first 30 days after the birth, you will receive 82% of your gross salary (with no upper limit) from your mutuelle.

As of the 31st day, this amount is fixed at 75% of your gross salary, with an upper limit of around €106 per day.

Maternity leave for self-employed mothers in the Belgian system

If you are self-employed in the Belgian system, you are entitled to up to 12 weeks maternity leave (maximum 13 weeks in the case of a multiple birth), with a minimum of three weeks.

Eligibility criteriaIf you are self-employed in the Belgian system, you have the right to maternity leave provided that:
  • during the weeks in which you take 'full-time' maternity leave, you suspend all your professional activities;
  • during the weeks in which you take 'part-time' maternity leave, you:

    • carry out your regular self-employed activities maximum half-time; and
    • you do not carry out any other professional activities.
Read more below about taking full-time and part-time maternity leave.
Length of leaveYou are entitled to up to 12 weeks maternity leave (maximum 13 weeks in the case of a multiple birth), with a minimum of three weeks.

Maternity leave is divided into ‘mandatory prenatal leave', 'manatory postnatal leave' and 'optional leave'.
  • Mandatory prenatal leave: one week of maternity leave is considered as mandatory prenatal leave, and can only be taken before the birth.

    You can start your prenatal leave maximum three weeks before the due date.

    If your baby is born early and you had not taken one week of maternity leave prior to the birth, you do not ‘lose’ this week of leave - any 'unused' days are added to your obligatory postnatal leave, to ensure that you have three uninterrupted weeks of leave.

  • Mandatory postnatal leave: two weeks of maternity leave are considered as mandatory postnatal leave, and must be taken as from the date of the birth.

  • Optional leave: the remaining nine weeks (10 in the case of a multiple birth) can be taken:

    • before the birth. Because there is one mandatory week of prenatal leave, and prenatal leave cannot start more than three weeks before the due date, you can take maximum two weeks of optional leave before the birth.

    • after the two weeks of obligatory postnatal leave. These weeks of leave can be taken in periods of seven days (i.e. they do not have to be taken consecutively) until at latest 38 weeks after the birth.
Any weeks of optional leave after the birth can be taken full-time or part time, with one full-time week being equivalent to two part-time weeks, e.g. you can take nine (10) full weeks, or 18 (20) part-time weeks at any time with the 38 weeks following the birth.
FormalitiesTo receive payment for your maternity leave:
  • provide your mutuelle with:

    • a medical certificate that states the expected due date of your baby (and indicates if it is a multiple birth);
    • the intended start date of your maternity leave (maximum 3 and minimum 1 week before the estimated due date); and
    • details of the mandatory and optional leave that you wish to take.

    • Note that even after you have sent this information to the mutuelle, you can still change the details of what leave you will take, how and when. However, you do need to inform the mutuelle of any changes.

  • when your baby is born, send an ‘extrait d’acte de naissance’ / ‘geboorteaangifte’ to your mutuelle so they can calculate the end date of your maternity leave (and to register your baby with your mutuelle and to receive a ‘prime de naissance’ (birth bonus) of around €300 from your mutuelle).

  • when you resume your professional activities after your maternity leave, inform the mutuelle within two days by sending back the 'Avis de reprise du travail' form.
How much will I get paid?The weekly amount you receive is not dependent on your income.

The amount for weeks taken:
  • full-time is around €480;
  • part-time is around €240.

  • You will receive your payments monthly, with the first payment made 30 days after the start of your maternity leave.

Good to know

You do not have to pay social security for the trimester following the birth of your baby. This benefit is accorded automatically by the ‘caisse d’assurances sociale’ / social insurance fund.


What happens if my baby has to stay in hospital?

If your baby has to stay in hospital beyond the first 7 days after the birth, you should be able to extend your maternity leave.

For employeesFor each consecutive day your baby has to stay in hospital beyond the first seven days after the birth (provided the baby was not discharged from hospital during that time), you can extend your maternity leave by the same number of days, e.g. if your baby stays in hospital for 10 days in total, your maternity leave is extended by three days.

This extension of maternity leave cannot exceed 24 weeks.

The additional time is added at the end of your official maternity leave.

What’s the procedure?

Before the end of your official maternity leave, give your mutuelle a letter from the hospital stating the length of time your baby was hospitalised for.

Read more on the website of the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (French and Dutch).
For self-employed mothersFor each consecutive day your baby has to stay in hospital beyond the first seven days after the birth (provided the baby was not discharged from hospital during that time), you can extend your maternity leave by the same number of days, e.g. if your baby stays in hospital for 10 days in total, your maternity leave is extended by three days.

The additional time is added after the two weeks of mandatory postnatal leave. It is possible to take these extra days 'part-time'.

What's the procedure?

Within two weeks of the birth, inform your mutuelle of the number of additional days of maternity leave and provide a letter from the hospital stating the length of time your baby was hospitalised for.

If at this time, your baby is still in hospital, your maternity leave can be further extended and you will again need to ask the hospital for a letter stating the length of hospitalisation.

Read more on the website of the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (French and Dutch).

What happens if a mother cannot look after her baby?

There are two situations in which the mother’s maternity leave can be ‘transferred’ to the father / co-parent if the mother cannot look after the baby:

What happens if the mother has to stay in hospital?

If the mother is hospitalised during her maternity leave (applicable to employees), the remaining maternity leave can be converted to paternity / co-parent leave if the father is also an employee.

This ‘converted’ leave can only begin:

  • as of the seventh day after the baby’s birth; and
  • if the baby has left hospital; and
  • if the mother is hospitalised for more than seven days.

The father / co-parent needs to inform his employer in writing before the leave begins, indicating when he/she will begin this leave and how long he/she is likely to be absent. As soon as possible, he/she should provide his employer with a medical certificate confirming that the mother will be hospitalised for longer than seven days.

He/she also needs to inform his mutuelle of the situation, and provide them with a medical certificate from the hospital stating:

  • the date on which the mother was hospitalised;
  • that the mother’s hospitalisation is longer than 7 days; and
  • that the baby has left hospital.

The mutuelle will then send the father / co-parent the paperwork that needs to be completed. The leave will be paid by the mutuelle and is fixed at 60% of the father’s salary, with an upper limit of around €126 per day (correct as of September 2012).

During this time, the mother continues to receive her maternity leave pay, and is still protected against being made redundant.

What happens if the mother dies?

If the mother dies during her maternity leave (applicable to employees), the remaining maternity leave can be converted to paternity / co-parent birth leave if the father / co-parent is also an employee.

The father / co-parent needs to inform his/her employer in writing within seven days of the mother’s death, indicating when he/she will begin the paternity / co-parent leave and how long he/she is likely to be absent.

He/she also needs to inform his mutuelle of the situation, and provide them with a death certificate and a statement from the hospital indicating that the baby has been discharged from hospital.


More info

Read more about maternity leave for employees and unemployed mothers on the website of the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (French and Dutch).


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