Annual leave (1) – What are the conditions for the granting of leave days?

Auteur: Catherine Legardien

The summer holidays are approaching and lots of questions are arising about the legislation on the annual leave.

In this first Infoflash about annual leave, we will repeat the conditions for the granting of days of leave.  These conditions are always the same, regardless of the worker's status (manual or intellectual worker) and the manner in which the holiday periods are defined (through a collective or individual agreement; see our following Infoflashes).

When taking leave, the following rules must be taken into account:

1. The leave must be granted prior to 31 December of the holiday year. It is not allowed to transfer days of leave, not taken in the holiday year, to the following year.

Example – An intellectual worker works full-time (5 days/week) during the whole of 2013. In 2014, he is entitled to 20 days of leave which effectively have to be taken between 1 January and 31 December 2014.

2. For workers with school-age children, the leave shall by preference be granted during the school holidays.

3. Unless otherwise requested by the worker concerned, a continuous period of 2 weeks must be granted between 1 May and 31 October (3 weeks for the worker younger than 18 years on 31 December of the holiday qualifying year). In any case, a continuous holiday period of one week must be guaranteed.

4. The balance of leave days shall be exhausted in periods of low activity or on the occasion of regional, local or other holidays.

5. Taking half days of leave is not allowed, except:

  • if the half days of leave are completed with half a day of normal rest:
  • if the worker requests to spread 3 days of the fourth week of leave across half days. However, the employer can oppose the division of the days of leave if this would disrupt the proper execution of the work within the company.  

Sources: Royal Decree of 30 March 1967 determining the general terms and conditions for the implementation of the laws relating to the annual holidays of salaried workers, Moniteur Belge 11 August 1967; F. Verbrugge, Guide de la Réglementation Sociale pour les Entreprises, Partena Payroll Office, Kluwer publishers, 2014, no. 268.

Auteur: Catherine Legardien