Political leave: changes for the employee-mayor

Author: Catherine Mairy (Legal Expert)
Read time: 5min
Publication date: 14/07/2023 - 12:26
Latest update: 14/07/2023 - 12:30

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.

Existing system: a brief reminder

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.

Length of the political leave

The employee-mayor has a choice:

  • either he can partially suspend the performance of his employment contract; in this case, he can be absent from work for a maximum of 2 working days per week;
  • or he can suspend the performance of his employment contract for the duration of his duties; in this case, the leave must be taken in periods of at least 12 months (this period may be extended by one or more further periods of at least 12 months).

Conditions for granting and using political leave

The employee-mayor must communicate the following information to the employer:

  • in the case of a partial suspension: a calendar of the days of absence, no later than on Wednesday preceding the suspension;
  • in the case of a full suspension: the start date and the duration of the suspension, at the latest when the suspension begins.

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.

Unpaid political leave

Absences taken as part of political leave to serve as mayor are not remunerated by the employer.

New regime: emergency situation

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”.

Emergency situation

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.

Length of the political leave

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:

  • for a maximum of the number of working days provided for in his work scheme for which he does not take “partial suspension” political leave under the existing regime
  • for as long as the emergency situation lasts.

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.

Conditions for granting and using political leave

To be eligible for political leave under the new regime, the employee-mayor must:

  • notify his employer in advance (or as soon as possible);
  • use the political leave for the purpose for which it is granted; at the employer's request, the employee must prove the emergency situation (in any way).

Paid political leave

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.

Entry into force

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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