Adoption leave: some clarifications

Author: Catherine Legardien

Two royal decrees containing clarifications about adoption leave have recently been published in the Belgian Official Gazette.

As a reminder, the changes relating to adoption leave entered into force on 1 January 2019 (see our Infoflash of 22 January 2019). These changes relate in particular to the duration and submission of the application for adoption leave and to international adoption.

However, certain elements had to be clarified by Royal Decrees. This has been done in the meantime.

Distribution of the extra weeks

Reminder: an employee who adopts a minor child, is now entitled to adoption leave for an uninterrupted period of up to 6 weeks, regardless of the age of the minor child.

In addition, a gradual extension of the duration is scheduled, according to the "agenda" below:

  • 1 week from 01 January 2019;
  • 2 weeks from 01 January 2021;
  • 3 weeks from 01 January 2023;
  • 4 weeks from 01 January 2025;
  • 5 weeks from 01 January 2027;

If there are two adoptive parents, they divide the additional weeks among themselves.

New! It is now stipulated that, in that case, the employee who makes use of the right to the extra weeks, at the latest at the time when the adoption leave commences, shall provide his employer with a declaration of honour which, as the case may be, establishes the division of these weeks between the two adoptive parents or the allocation of this week or weeks to the sole adoptive parent who makes use of this right. This clarification came into effect on 18 March 2019.

International adoption

Adoption leave must start within 2 months following the registration of the child as a member of the family of the employee in the population register or in the register of foreigners of the municipality of residence.

However, in the case of an international adoption, the adoption leave can already start from the day after the adoption of the decision by the competent central authority of the community to entrust the child to the adopter (in accordance with Article 361-3, 5° or Article 361-5, 4° of the Civil Code), in order to pick up the child in the State of origin with a view to his actual accommodation in the family.

New! It is now stipulated that, in the case of international adoption, benefits payable by the health insurance fund may be granted even if the employee is outside Belgian territory, provided that he satisfies the conditions for the granting of the adoption benefits. This clarification takes effect retroactively from 1 January 2019.

Sources: Act of 21 December 2018 containing various provisions on social matters, Belgian Official Gazette of 17 January 2018; Royal Decree of 1 March 2019 on the distribution of the additional weeks of adoption leave, as referred to in Article 30ter, § 1, second paragraph of the Employment Contract Act of 3 July 1978, between the two adoptive parents, Belgian Official Gazette of 18 March 2019. Royal Decree of 23 March 2019 amending, as regards the strengthening of adoption leave and the introduction of foster parent leave, the Royal Decree of 3 July 1996 implementing the Act on compulsory insurance for medical care and benefits, coordinated on 14 July 1994, Belgian State Gazette of 4 April 2019.