Employees in Belgium | Sick leave & Holiday pay

Sick leave

In case of sickness or accident, the employee is entitled to a statutory sick pay during the first 30 days of absence, payable by the employer. The rate of the sick pay, based on the normal salary, depends on the nature of the contract (white- or bluecollar worker), and on the length of his service to the employer).

After this period, the employee will receive sickness benefits, payable by the Heath Insurance Fund (Mutuelle/Ziekenfonds).

To be entitled to his sick pay at his employer’s expense, the employee has to respect some legal obligations, amongst which the immediate information of his employer of his incapacity to work. The employer is allowed to request from the employee the delivery of a medical statement (medical certificate). Besides the employer may entrust the task of ascertaining the sickness to an independent medical officer, called controller-officer. Since 01/01/2014, the employer can foresee the obligation for the employee to stay at home during 4 consecutive hours fixed in a Collective Labour Agreement or in the employment regulation each day of sickness in order to allow the control by the independent medical officer.
 

Holidays

The holiday entitlement depends on the length of service during the preceding calendar year. For white-collar workers, the holiday entitlement is based on the number of months worked during the preceding year (activity year) and for blue-collar workers, it will be based on the number of days worked on the preceding year. Some absences and leaves are assimilated to “worked” periods.

In practice, employees (white-collar) are entitled to 2 vacation days per complete worked month in the preceding year. That means 24 vacation days (six-days-a-week scheme) or 20 vacation days (five-days-a-week scheme) for a complete year in service (or of assimilated periods), i.e. a maximum of 4 complete weeks of paid leave in the scheme of a full-time working employee.

During their annual leave, the white-collar employees receive a “double holiday pay” in addition to their normal pay. The employer pays both the normal pay and the holiday allowance (see below).

The blue-collar workers get their holiday pay (normal pay and holiday allowance) from a Holiday Fund. Once the employer is registered to the Belgian National Social Security Office, he will be automatically affiliated with the competent holiday fund.
 

Holiday Pay and bonues

a) Holiday pay

In addition to their monthly salary, employees are due to receive, under certain conditions, a holiday pay. Terms of granting and amounts depend on the status of the employee.

Holiday pay for blue-collar worker who are subject to the legal annual holidays scheme for salaried employees is paid by a specific Holiday Fund.

Once the employer is registered to the National Social Security Office, he will be automatically affiliated with the competent holiday fund.

Holiday pay for white-collar employees is paid by the employer. The employee is entitled to a holiday pay corresponding to the duration of his holiday leave (see above).

The employee’s holiday pay consists of a simple holiday pay (continued payment of the monthly salary during the holiday period) and a double holiday pay (holiday bonus) which is a supplement on top of the monthly gross salary to cover extra holidays expenses. The double holiday pay corresponds to 92% of the monthly gross salary (for a complete holiday leave – see above).

b) End-of-year bonus, Christmas bonus and 13th month

Belgian legislation does not provide the payment of year-end bonus. Yet, most of the business sectors have made the granting of a year-end bonus compulsory. This bonus is usually paid at the end of the calendar year. The terms and conditions for the granting of this bonus vary from one sector to another.