15 days of birth leave: it's official!

Author: Catherine Legardien (Legal Expert)
Date:

From 1 January 2021 onwards, the birth leave will be increased from 10 to 15 days. This is laid down in the Programme Act of 20 December 2020 published in the Belgian Official Gazette of 30 December 2020. This is the perfect opportunity to go over the most important rules for this leave of absence!

Who is entitled to birth leave?

Birth leave shall be granted as a priority to the employee who is the father of the child, i.e. the person whose parenthood is established by law.

If the parenthood on the father's side is not established by law, the birth leave can be granted in the following order of priority to the employee co-parent who:

  1. is married to the person whose parenthood has been established;
  2. Is legally cohabiting with the person whose parenthood is established and with whom the child has his main residence, provided that they are not linked by a blood relationship leading to a marriage ban for which the King cannot grant dispensation;
  3. since a continuous period of three years prior to birth, is permanently and affectionately cohabiting with the person whose parenthood is established and with whom the child has his main residence, provided that they are not linked by a blood relationship leading to a marriage ban for which the King cannot grant dispensation.

Therefore, in addition to the father of the child, the homosexual partner who is married or cohabiting with the mother of the child and the partner who has not recognised the child and is married or cohabiting with the mother can also benefit from birth leave.

What is the duration of the birth leave?

Provided that the child is born on or after 1 January 2021, the employee who is father or co-parent has the right to be absent from work for 15 days (instead of 10 days previously).

These 15 days do not have to be taken consecutively since the employee can choose to set the dates on which he wants to take the days of birth leave within 4 months of the birth.

Is the birth leave paid?

During the first 3 days of absence, the employee is entitled to his normal wage paid by his employer.

For the next 12 days (instead of 7 days previously), the employee does not receive any wage from his employer. However, he can get benefits from his health insurance fund.

And next?

From 1 January 2023 onwards, the birth leave will be increased to 20 days.

Source: Programme Act of 20 December 2020, Belgian Official Gazette of 30 December 2020.

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