Annual leave and prenatal leave: temporary unemployment assimilated

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Date:
10 Jun 2020

Under the Royal Decree of 4 June 2020, days of temporary unemployment due to force majeure by the COVID-19 pandemic are now also taken into account for the calculation of holiday entitlements.

The Chamber has also approved a legislative proposal whereby periods of incapacity for work, temporary unemployment due to force majeure and temporary unemployment due to economic reasons for employees can be carried over until after the post-natal leave. 

Annual leave

Days of temporary unemployment due to force majeure are in principle not taken into account for the accrual of holiday entitlements.

The Royal Decree of 4 June 2020 now makes an exception for periods of temporary unemployment due to force majeure by the COVID-19 pandemic. These days of temporary unemployment are also to be taken into account for the calculation of the duration of holidays and holiday pay.

This exception applies to temporary unemployment during the period from 1 February to 30 June 2020.

Prenatal leave

A female employee is entitled to 15 weeks maternity leave, consisting of 6 weeks prenatal leave and 9 weeks postnatal leave. Of those 6 weeks of prenatal leave, 1 week must be taken off mandatorily, while 5 weeks can be carried over – all or part – until after the 9 weeks of postnatal leave.  

This transfer is only possible if the employee has continued to work. Certain days of inactivity during prenatal leave are assimilated to periods of work, so that these days can also be carried over until after the postnatal leave.

However, periods of temporary unemployment for reasons of force majeure, temporary unemployment for economic reasons for white-collar workers and incapacity for work are not assimilated. In other words, these periods – during 6 weeks before birth – cannot be carried over beyond postnatal leave.

The approved legislative proposal will change this: it is now possible to transfer periods of temporary unemployment and incapacity for work beyond postnatal leave. In this way, the legislator wishes to ensure that women who become temporarily unemployed or incapacitated for work in the 6 weeks prior to childbirth do not lose part of their maternity leave.

These adapted rules enter into force as from 1 March 2020 for an indefinite period of time.

Action point

Take into account that periods of temporary force majeure unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the period from 1 February to 30 June 2020 are to be assimilated to working days for the calculation of holiday entitlements.

In the context of the transfer of prenatal leave, periods of temporary unemployment due to force majeure and economic reasons and periods of incapacity for work should also be taken into account.