The corona parental leave is official!

Author: Catherine Legardien (Legal Expert)
Date:

As a result of the (partial) suspension of lessons in schools, your employees will be allowed to take specific parental leave (the so-called corona parental leave) to care for their child(ren) from 1 May 2020.

Royal Decree no. 23 formalises this measure.

Who is entitled to “corona” parental leave?

In order to be eligible for corona parental leave, the employee must be employed for at least 1 month by the employer who employs him.

The 'corona parental leave' can be taken:

  • following the birth of a child until the child’s 12th birthday;
  • following the adoption of a child during a period starting on the date when the child is registered as a member of the employee’s family either on the population register or register of foreign nationals for the borough in which he lives and ending not later than the child’s 12th birthday.
  • by a foster parent designated by the court or by a body recognised by the competent community, and at the latest until the child‘s 12th birthday.

The age limit has been set at 21 years when the child for whom the leave is requested is a disabled child. However, no age limit is laid down where a child or adult with a disability is looked after by his or her parents if he or she is receiving an inpatient or outpatient service or treatment organised or recognised by the Communities.

Under what conditions?

The “Corona” parental leave may be taken in the form of a reduction of the working time.

  • or up to 1/2th for employees who work at least ¾,
  • or by 1/5th  for employees who work full-time.

A total suspension of the working time and a reduction of the working time by 1/10th are therefore not possible.

During the period of application of the corona parental leave (in principle from 1 May to 30 June 2020), the corona parental leave can be exercised as follows:

  • in a single continuous period;
  • in one or more periods of one month, whether continuous or not;
  • in one or more periods of one week, whether continuous or not;
  • or by combining one or more period(s) of one month with one or more period(s) of one week.

 

What formalities must be completed on behalf of the employer?

The 'corona parental leave' can only be taken with the employer's agreement.

To this end, the following formalities must be completed.

Application by the employee

The employee who wishes to make use of the right to corona parental leave must submit an application in writing to the employer at least 3 working days in advance:

  • by registered letter:
  • or by handing over a written document, the duplicate of which is signed for receipt by the employer,
  • or electronically with an acknowledgement of receipt from the employer.

The written application must state the start and end dates of the parental leave, as well as the fracture of the desired partial interruption of the period(s) of corona parental leave.

Agreement of the employer

Notification of his agreement or refusal shall be given in writing or electronically, subject to acknowledgement of receipt of the notification by the employee and within a maximum of 3 working days following the application and in any case no later than before the start of the corona parental leave.

Important!

By mutual agreement, the time limits of the application procedure may be reduced.

What about employees who already make use of thematic leave or time credit?

An employee who is already on thematic leave (parental leave, leave for medical assistance or leave to provide palliative care) or time credit may, under certain conditions, convert this into corona parental leave or suspend it to make use of corona parental leave.

Conversion

If the employee has already reduced his working time up to 1/2th or by 1/5th under the "classical" parental leave, he may, with the agreement of the employer, convert this into corona parental leave (with the same partial interruption fracture).

If the "classic" parental leave has a planned duration beyond the date on which the corona parental leave ceases to exist (in principle 30 June 2020), the "classic" parental leave will be resumed from the day following the day on which the corona parental leave ceases to exist until the initially planned end date.

Example: the reduction of the working time by 1/5th under "classic" parental leave may, with the employer's agreement, be converted into a reduction of the working time by 1/5th under corona parental leave.

Suspension

If the employee has already suspended his working time completely or reduced his working time by 1/10th under the "classic" parental leave, he may, with the employer's agreement, suspend the "classic" parental leave in order to take corona parental leave (reduction up to ½th or by 1/5th).

In addition, an employee who has completely suspended or reduced his working time under thematic leave (other than the "classic" parental leave) or time credit may, with the agreement of his employer, suspend the thematic leave or time credit in order to take corona parental leave.

In these two cases, the thematic leave or time credit is then resumed from the day following the day on which the corona parental leave ceases to exist until the initially requested end date, if the thematic leave or time credit has a scheduled duration until after the date on which the corona parental leave ceases to exist (in principle 30 June 2020),

Example: the reduction of the working time by 1/10th under the "classic" parental leave or the reduction of the working time up to1/2th under time credit may, with the employer's agreement, be suspended in order to benefit from a reduction of the working time by 1/5th or up to 1/2th under the corona parental leave.

Important! The period during which the 'classical' parental leave is converted into corona parental leave shall not be taken into account for the maximum duration of the 'classical' parental leave to which the employee is entitled.

The same applies to the period during which the thematic leave or time credit is suspended in order to benefit from corona parental leave. This period will not be taken into account for the maximum duration of the thematic leave or time credit.

In both cases, the remaining period may be taken at a later date, even if the remaining period does not meet the minimum duration of the leave.

Will the leave be compensated?

The employee who reduces his working hours under the corona parental leave, benefits from an allowance paid by the ONEm/RVA, the amount of which is 25% higher than the amount granted under the "classic" parental leave.

Refer to the website Internet of the ONEm/RVA for more detailed information.

What formalities must be completed on behalf of the ONEm/RVA?

The application for benefits with the ONEm/RVA can be made electronically or by means of a paper form.

Refer to the website Internet of the ONEm/RVA for more detailed information.

Duration of application of the corona parental leave

The corona parental leave applies from 1 May to 30 June 2020.

A Royal Decree may extend the application of this measure.

Sources: Special Powers Decree No. 14 of  27 April 2020 implementing Article 5, §1 5°, of the Act of 27 March 2020 authorising the King to take measures in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 (II) in relation to the corona parental leave, Belgian Official Gazette of 14 May 2020; ONEm/RVA