More flexibility for medical assistance leave!

Author: Catherine Legardien
Date:

Since 01 June 2019, it is possible for employees to split the leave for "providing assistance or care for a seriously ill household or family member" into shorter periods when it is taken in the form of a full-time work interruption.

Reminder: the right to this more flexible splitting was introduced by a law of 2 September 2018. However, an implementing Royal Decree was required so that the employees could actually exercise this right.

This is now the case with the publication of the Royal Decree of 5 May 2019 in the Belgian Official Gazette!

Form and duration: what are the principles?

Under certain conditions, the employee may take medical assistance leave in the form of:

  • a full-time work interruption;
  • a reduction of the working hours to a half-time job;
  • a reduction of the working hours by 1/5th.

The maximum duration of the leave is in principle 12 months per patient in the event of a full-time work interruption and 24 months per patient in the event of a reduction of the working hours (to a half-time job or by 1/5th).

The periods of full-time work interruption and reduction of the working hours may only be taken up in periods of minimum 1 month and maximum 3 months.

What ‘s new

Since 01 June 2019, the employee now has the possibility to interrupt his work full-time within the framework of the medical assistance leave for a period shorter than the minimum period of 1 month with the employer’s consent. This period can be reduced to 1 week, 2 weeks or 3 weeks.

If the employer refuses the employee to take the leave for a minimum period of less than one month, he must notify the employee of his decision in writing within two working days after receipt of the employee's written notification.

If the remaining part of the maximum period of the medical assistance leave in the event of a full-time work interruption is less than one month (in principle 12 months), the employee has the right to take this balance without the employer's consent.

Attention! No change is expected when the leave is taken in the form of a reduction of the working hours (to a half-time job or by 1/5th). The minimum period of 1 month for taking these periods of reduced working hours is therefore maintained.

When does it take effect?

This new provision applies to leave requests submitted to the employer from 01 June 2019.

Sources: law of 2 September 2018 amending the Economic Recovery Act  of 22 January 1985 containing social provisions, as regards the flexibility of taking thematic leave, Belgian Official Gazette of 26 September 2018; Royal Decree Act of 05 May 2019 amending various provisions relating to thematic leave, Belgian Official Gazette of 22 May 2019.