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The possibility for employees holding the office of mayor to take political leave has been extended to new situations.
A law of 27.06.2023 authorizes employees to take political leave when they are faced with an emergency situation in their municipality, making their exceptional and continuous availability indispensable.
The existing system allows employees to take political leave for as long as they need to carry out their duties as mayor in a normal and generally foreseeable manner.
The employee-mayor has a choice:
The employee-mayor must communicate the following information to the employer:
Within the same term, the employee must also provide the employer with proof of his duties.
Finally, he is obliged to use the political leave for the purposes for which it was granted.
Absences taken as part of political leave to serve as mayor are not remunerated by the employer.
The new system extends political leave to cover emergency situations faced by the employee-mayor in his municipality, making exceptional and continuous availability essential.
This new system coexists with the existing system of “partial suspension”.
An emergency situation is defined as any event that has (or is likely to have) harmful consequences for the social life in the municipality, such as a serious public safety problem, a serious threat to the life or health of individuals and/or to important material interests.
Example - A major flood, a terrorist attack.
In addition to the days of “partial suspension” political leave taken (where applicable) under the existing regime, the employee-mayor who is faced with an emergency situation has the right to be absent from work:
Example - The employee-mayor normally works from Monday to Friday.
Every Friday, he takes a day of political leave (partial suspension) under the existing regime.
On Wednesday, he is confronted with an emergency situation in his municipality that lasts until Sunday of the current week.
He can take two days of political leave, on Wednesday and Thursday, under the new regime.
To be eligible for political leave under the new regime, the employee-mayor must:
Absences taken by the employee-mayor under the new regime are paid for by the employer.
Please note! The employer is also obliged to pay remuneration for political leave taken under the existing regime (partial suspension) when such days are taken during the period when the employee's exceptional and continuous availability in his capacity as mayor is indispensable due to the emergency situation. The employee must inform his employer hereof.
In the example above the employer must pay the remuneration for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
The amount of the remuneration is calculated in accordance with the legislation relating to public holidays; however, since 01.12.2022, the monthly amount of remuneration taken into consideration is capped at €4,438.00/month (ceiling in force in the healthcare insurance and benefits scheme).
Subject to certain formalities, the employer can obtain reimbursement of gross remuneration and employer's contributions from the municipality concerned.
The new system applies to political leave taken from 24.07.2023 onwards.
Source: law of 27.06.2023 amending the law of 19 July 1976 instituting leave for the exercise of a political mandate, Belgian Official Gazette 14.07.2023.
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