Care and education: temporary measures for career breaks

Author: Catherine Legardien (Legal Expert)
Date:

In order to increase the workforce in care and education, employees will have the possibility, under certain conditions, to temporarily suspend their career break or to go and work for another employer during a career break period.

This temporary measure will apply retroactively to 1 January 2022 and will expire on 31 March 2022.

Important note! The measure still has to be published in the Belgian Official Gazette.

Update! The Act of 14 February 2022 was published on 9 March 2022. The measure has been confirmed.

Which employees are concerned?

The employees concerned are those who have completely suspended or reduced their working time (to a half-time job, by 1/5 or 1/10) within the framework of time credit or thematic leave (hereinafter referred to as 'career break').

Which sectors are concerned?

Suspension of the career break is only authorised for employees who are employed by an employer in care and education.

The possibility to work during a career break is only available for employment with another employer in care and education.

More specifically, the care sector is understood to mean: (public and private) services and organisations providing care, support and assistance to individuals, the elderly, minors, disabled persons and vulnerable persons, including victims of intra-family violence. As far as the private sector is concerned, these services or organisations specifically belong to the following joint committees:

  • JC no. 318 (Joint Committee for the home help and elderly caregiver services);
  • JC no. 319 (Joint Committee for the educational and housing institutions and services);
  • JC no. 330 (Joint Committee for healthcare facilities and services);
  • JC no. 331 (Joint Committee for the Flemish welfare and health sector);
  • JC no. 332 (Joint Committee for the French-speaking, German-speaking and bi-communal welfare and health sector);
  • JC no. 322 (Joint Committee for the temporary agency sector and accredited undertakings providing community-based work or services, in so far as the temporary agency worker is employed by a user belonging to one of the joint committees mentioned above).

Are also referred to:

  • private and public institutions and centres in charge of contact tracing in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19;
  • private and public institutions or services in charge of operating vaccination centres in the context of the fight against the coronavirus COVID-19, for all activities related to the operation of a vaccination centre.

What is possible in practice?

There are two possibilities for an employee taking a career break:

  • either the employee employed by an employer belonging to the sectors concerned (care or education) agrees with him to temporarily suspend his career break,
  • or, during his career break, the employee is temporarily employed by another employer belonging to the sectors concerned (care or education).

Suspension of a career break with an employer belonging to one of the sectors concerned (care or education)

An employee employed by an employer belonging to the sectors concerned (care or education), may agree with him to temporarily suspend his career break.

At the end of that temporary suspension, the career break will be continued for the remainder of the period under the original conditions.

During the period of suspension of the career break, the employee retains his career break benefit payable by the National Employment Office (ONEm/RVA). However, the amount of that benefit is reduced by 1/4.

Temporary suspension of the career break is only possible until 31 March 2022. However, by Royal Decree, this possibility can be extended by 3 months.

Temporary employment during the career break with another employer belonging to the sectors concerned (care or education)

During his career break, the employee may be temporarily employed with another employer belonging to the sectors concerned (care or education).

The parties (the employee and the other employer) must conclude a written fixed-term contract. The end date of that contract cannot be later than 31 March 2022, the planned end date of this measure. However, a Royal Decree may decide to extend this measure by 3 months.

The employee retains his career break benefit at the expense of the ONEm/RVA. However, the amount of the career break benefit is reduced by 1/4 for the duration of the employment contract.

Informing the employee representatives

The employer who uses these measures must:

  • inform the works council or, in the absence thereof, the committee for prevention and protection at work or, in the absence thereof, the trade union delegation;
  • include the discussion on the agenda of the meeting following the first use.

The discussion is placed on the agenda of the meeting each month for as long as the measures are used and, for the last time, at the meeting following the end of the use.

What are the formalities vis-à-vis the ONEm/RVA?

The employee must inform the ONEm/RVA in writing of the temporary suspension of the career break or the temporary employment with another employer. This is done using a form that should be downloadable from the ONEm/RVA website.

Source: Bill containing various labour law measures in favour of care and education within the framework of the fight against the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, doc. 55 2455.

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