When you adopt a child under the age of 18, you have the right to six weeks adoption leave in total. It is mandatory to take one week of adoption leave, and the six-week period may be extended in certain cases.
The table below outlines the basics about adoption leave for:
- employees in the Belgian system; and
- self-employed parents in the Belgian system. Note that during adoption leave, self-employed parents are not allowed to continue their professional activities.
Any differences for employees / self-employed are indicated.
If you are unemployed, or are being indemnified after the end of your work contract, you are not entitled to adoption leave.
When can I take adoption leave?
The adoption leave can start:
- at the earliest, the day your child is registered at the commune; and
- at the latest, two months after your child is registered at the commune.
- International adoption
- In the case of international adoption, your adoption leave can start before your child is registered at the commune, to allow you to bring your child back from his/her country of origin yourself.
- Your adoption leave can begin the day after you receive the official confirmation of the adoption.
How long is adoption leave?
When you adopt a child under the age of 18, you have the right to up to six weeks leave. It is mandatory to take one week of adoption leave.
The six weeks of leave are individual, i.e. if both you and your partner are the adoptive parents, you are entitled to six weeks leave each. The leave cannot be transferred between parents.
In certain cases, the six-weeks can be extended:
- You’re adopting alone? If you submit your request on or after 1 January 2023 for adoption leave to begin on or after 1 January 2023, you can extend your adoption leave by three weeks.
- You’re adopting with a partner (i.e. two adoptive parents)? If you submit your request on or after 1 January 2023 for adoption leave to begin on or after 1 January 2023, you can extend your adoption leave by three weeks to be divided between the two parents.
- You’re adopting a child with a handicap? Each adoptive parent can double their adoption leave if the child suffers from a physical or mental handicap of at least 66%, or has other health problems that may be taken into account. Ask your health insurance fund (‘mutuelle’ / ‘ziekenfonds’) for more details.
- You’re adopting more than one child at the same time? Each adoptive parent can extend their adoption leave by two weeks.
Note: It is only possible to take full weeks of leave, i.e. it is not possible take 1.5 weeks leave. Also, you must take all your leave in one go.
How do I apply for adoption leave?
To receive payment for your adoption leave, you need to make a request for adoption leave to your health insurance fund:
- at the earliest when you sign the adoption act; and
- at the latest, the day the child is registered as domiciled with the adoptive parent(s). Any request made later than this will be refused.
You may be able to download the necessary form from your health insurance fund’s website.
Along with your request, include an attestation of the adoption procedure, and if relevant, an attestation of the child’s handicap. If you are unsure of which documents are needed, check with your health insurance fund in advance.
Your health insurance fund will then send you the relevant paperwork that you need to complete and return to them.
At the end of your adoption leave:
- employee: Within 8 days of returning to work, inform your health insurance fund in writing (e.g. via email, post or application from your health insurance fund).
- self-employed: Within 2 days of resuming your professional activities, inform your health insurance fund in writing (e.g. via email, post or application from your health insurance fund).
How much am I paid while on adoption leave?
The first 3 days of adoption leave are paid by your employer, at 100% of your usual salary. Your health insurance fund pays the remaining time, at 82% of your usual salary, with an upper limit.
Your health insurance fund will begin to compensate you within 30 days of receiving your request.
You receive a fixed amount of around €580 per week of adoption leave. This is paid in one go, at the latest one month after the start of your leave.