Parental leave

Parents who are employees in the Belgian system are each entitled to take parental leave of up to four months per child, before that child turns 12.

Self-employed parents are unfortunately not entitled to take parental leave.

If your child was born:

  • after 8 March 2012, you can receive a government allowance for up to four months of leave;

  • before 8 March 2012, you can only receive a government allowance for up to three months of leave.

    In this case, you can still take four months of parental leave, but the fourth month is unpaid.

NEWS – Since 1 June 2019, as well as being able to take parental leave full-time, 1/2 or 1/5 time, it is also possible to take it 1/10 time.

This form of parental means that an employee working full-time could either:
– take one half-day of parental leave each week (e.g. Wednesday afternoons); or
– take one day of parental leave every two weeks

While an employer is obliged to accept a request for parental leave full-time, 1/2 time or 1/5 (though they may delay the start for maximum 6 months), an employer is not obliged to accept a request to take a 1/10 parental leave.

Read more below.


Who can take parental leave?

All parents (including adoptive parents) have the right to take four months of leave each, though the leave is not transferrable – if one parent does not use his/her entitlement to parental leave before the age cut-off, it is simply lost.

Any employee can take full-time parental leave. However, you need to be working full-time to be able to request any kind of part-time parental leave.

Generally speaking, at the time you make the request for parental leave to your employer, you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutively) in the 15 months prior to the request.

When can I take parental leave?

Parental leave for a particular child must be taken before that child turns 12 (21 in the case of a handicapped child) – the start of the period of leave must be before the child’s 12th (or 21st) birthday.

Adoptive parents are entitled to take parental leave as of the moment the child is officially registered at the commune as part of their household.

Do I have to take the 4 months in one go?

You can use your parental leave:

  • in one go (i.e. a single period of months);
  • in several periods of minimum one month;
  • to temporarily reduce your working hours to 80% (1/5 parental leave) or 50%(1/2 parental leave).

    If you reduce your working hours to:
    • 80%, you can do this for a maximum of 20 months, or several periods of five months (or multiples of five months); or
    • 50%, you can do this for a maximum of 8 months, or several periods of two months (or multiples of two months).
  • NEW: to take one half-day off per week, or one full day off every two weeks(1/10 parental leave).

    If you take your parental leave like this, you can do so for a maximum period of 40 months, or several periods of ten months (or multiples of ten months).

Can my employer refuse my request?

This depends on how you wish to take your parental leave.

If you meet the conditions (age of child, have worked for that employer for at least 12 months in the previous 15 months):

  • your employer cannot refuse a request to take parental leave either full-time or at 1/2 or 1/5 time.

    However, they can ask that you delay it by a maximum of 6 months.
  • your employer may refuse to accept a request to take a 1/10 parental leave.

Formalities

As the procedures for applying for this kind of leave are rather complex, its best to check with your Human Resources department.

Typically you should submit your request for parental leave three months (and minimum two months) before you wish to start taking parental leave.

If you take full-time parental leave in one go, you are protected against being made redundant during this time, and any notice period begins after the end of the parental leave. This is not the case for parental leave that is spread out.

How much am I paid?

The government allowance you receive:

  • is independent of your salary; but
  • depends on your presence time (e.g. working at 80%, 50% etc.) in the period before taking parental leave.

For example, if you are working full-time, you currently receive about €750 per month net for full-time parental leave. If you are working part-time, this amount you will receive is prorated.

Also, as mentioned above, your child’s date of birth (before or after 8 March 2012) will determine whether you can receive a government allowance for three or four months.

More information

You can read more:


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