Career break, career reduction and “end-of-career jobs” - The NLC amends CBA No. 103

28 Dec 2016

At the end of 2014, the Di Rupo government abolished the right to benefits in case of a career break for no given reason; however, CBA No. 103, containing the right to a career break itself, remained unaltered. As a result, employees could still take a career break without giving a reason, though without the entitlement to benefits. The National Labour Council (NLC) is now putting an end to this discrepancy. In addition, the NLC anticipates the expansion of the career break for reasons of care, as provided for by the draft legislation concerning workable and agile work.

The right to a career break for no given reason is being abolished by the NLC. This puts an end to the discrepancy that came about at the end of 2014.

The NLC is extending the right to a career break for reasons of care to a duration of 51 months. Its scope is limited to the following grounds:

  1. taking care of a child under the age of 8;
  2. providing palliative care;
  3. taking care of a seriously ill family member;
  4. taking care of a disabled person under the age of 21;
  5. taking care of a seriously ill child.

Only the duration of an educational career break remains at 36 months.  During their career, employees can enjoy several of these breaks for multiple reasons, but the total of these breaks may not exceed 51 months. Furthermore, for employees to enjoy their career break for the first three reasons of care or for educational reasons, first a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) from the Joint Committee or from the company will be required.

For employees that combine two part-time jobs with different employers, the NLC now introduces the possibility to enjoy a 20% career reduction, provided that the combination of these part-time jobs amounts to a full-time job and that the employer where the reduction is being taken gives permission. The reduction can also be taken proportionately at both of the employers.

In addition to some other adjustments concerning the calculation of the effects of previously taken reductions and the calculation of the required length of the employee’s career, the NLC also provides for a transitional arrangement for the schemes of career breaks for no given reason that are currently running.

There will be no changes to the rules concerning the reduction in case of “end-of-career jobs”. These rules still provide for the possibility of a 20% or 50% career reduction for employees aged 60 (and in some cases aged 55) or older.

The amendments to CBA No. 103 will only enter into force after the publication of the Royal Decree that extends the benefits in case of career break for reasons of care to 51 months. Either way, even if this Royal Decree has not yet been published, the amended CBA will enter into force on 1 April 2017.

Action point

Be prepared for employees’ questions concerning their expanded right to a career break for reasons of care and explain to them that the new rules have yet to enter into force. Also, verify the activity of your Joint Committee to see if they have decided to conclude a CBA expanding the right to career break by reason of care.