Leave for medical assistance: what has changed on 1 June 2017?

Author: Catherine Legardien

On 1 June 2017, two changes to the regulation on leave for medical assistance came into force. On the one hand, these changes concern the definition of family member for whom the employee can benefit such leave and, on the other hand, the content of the certificate that the treating physician must deliver to the employee making use of this leave.

What is leave for medical assistance?

Leave for medical assistance is a thematic leave granted to the employee to assist or care for a seriously ill member of the household or family.

'Serious illness' is understood to mean any illness or medical intervention considered as such by the treating physician and for which the latter is of the opinion that any form of social, family or psychological assistance is necessary for the recovery of the person.

Subject to certain conditions, the employee may, on the occasion of this leave, either fully suspend or reduce his working hours to half-time or 4/5th time.  

An employee who invokes the entitlement to leave for medical assistance can claim an interruption allowance payable by the National Employment Office (RVA/ONEm).

When applying for leave for medical assistance to the employer, the employee must attach a certificate drawn up by the treating physician of the seriously ill person certifying that he has declared himself willing to assist or care for that person.

New on 1 June 2017

Two adjustments to the regulation entered into force on 1 June 2017. Specifically, these changes apply to applications submitted to the employer from 1 June 2017.   

Family member

The 'family member' for whom the employee may benefit from leave for medical assistance must be a blood relative up to the second-degree or a relative by marriage to the 1st degree (and no longer to the 2nd degree as was previously the case).

When the employee is legally cohabiting, the parents and children of his legal cohabitant are now also considered as members of his family.

Certificate of the treating physician

Currently, the certificate that was issued by the treating physician must also mention that the need for care in fact requires a full-time interruption, a half-time or a 1/5th reduction, in addition to any professional assistance which the person can benefit from.

This additional mention is not required, however, in situations where leave is requested to assist or care for the employee’s seriously ill minor child or for a seriously ill minor child who is a member of the household.

And what about time credit with motive ‘assistance or care for a seriously ill member of the household or family’?

Irrespective of the thematic leave for medical assistance, the employee may benefit for up to 51 months from time credit 'with motive’ for assistance or care of a seriously ill member of the family or household.

Since 1 June 2017, the new definition of 'family member' (applicable for leave for medical assistance - see above) is also valid for this time credit.

In addition, the employee must provide the employer, at the latest when the time credit begins, with a certificateissued by the treating physician of the household or family member.

Since 1 April 2017 and by virtue of the collective bargaining agreement No 103ter, this certificate must also mention that the need for care in fact requires a full-time interruption, a half-time or a 1/5th reduction, in addition to any professional assistance which the person can benefit from.

Source: Royal Decree of 23 May 2017 amending the Royal Decree of 10 August 1998 establishing the right to a career break for assistance or care for a seriously ill household or family member, Belgian Official Gazette of 1 June 2017.

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