Law on work-life balance: carers’ leave

Author: Béatrice Verelst (Legal Expert)
Date:

The law of 7 October 2022 partially transposing the European directive on work-life balance into Belgian law, introduces the possibility for workers to apply for a new leave: carers’ leave.

Carers’ leave enters into force on 10 November 2022.

Purpose of the leave?

In addition to the right to use existing leave to care for relatives in need, such as informal care leave or medical assistance leave, the new law provides for the worker to be absent in a more flexible manner to help a household member or relative.

The purpose of carers' leave is to provide personal care or support to a household member or relative who is in need of significant care or support for a serious medical reason.

The following definitions apply:

Household member: any person cohabiting with the worker;

Relative: the worker’s spouse or any person legally cohabiting with the worker, as well as the worker’s blood relatives up to the first degree;

A serious medical reason resulting in the need for significant care or support: any state of health, whether or not resulting from an illness or medical intervention, considered as such by the GP and for which he judges that significant care or support is needed;

Care or support: any form of social, family or emotional assistance or care;

Since the purpose is to enable the worker to take time off quickly, he/she must inform his/her employer orally or in writing beforehand. The law does not set a time limit.

A certificate from the GP of the person in need of care must be provided to the employer within a reasonable time.

Duration?

This leave entitles the worker to be absent for a maximum of five consecutive or non-consecutive days per calendar year.

The duration of the leave is charged on the duration of the leave for compelling reasons.

Compensation?

Unlike leave for compelling reasons, which is unpaid unless otherwise provided by the sector or company, workers who take carers’ leave will in principle be compensated by the ONEm/RVA.

We do not yet have concrete information on this subject. The ONEm/RVA will communicate its instructions.

Protection against dismissal

Workers who exercise their right to carers’ leave enjoy protection against dismissal.

Protection begins at the time of notification to the employer or no later than the first day of the carers’ leave and ends one month after the end of the leave.

If the employer fails to comply with the dismissal prohibition, he must pay the worker compensation equal to six months' gross pay.

Please note that preparatory acts for dismissal, such as the dismissal decision, are considered as dismissal.

Source: Law of 7 October 2022 partially transposing Directive (EU) 2019/1158 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on work-life balance for parents and carers and repealing Council Directive 2010/18/EU and regulating certain other aspects of leave (1), Belgian Official Gazette, 31 October 2022.

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