Corona parental leave effective May 1st, 2020!
In the current context of the coronavirus crisis, a Royal Decree, which comes into force on 1 May, will allow employees with young children to take exceptional parental leave, enabling them to better manage the combination of their private and professional lives and to preserve their usual rights to ordinary parental leave.
From the 1st of May, employees who are able to reduce their working hours in the context of ordinary parental leave will be able to apply for a reduction in their working time for corona parental leave. The conditions and rules applicable in accordance with the laws and royal decrees relating to ordinary parental leave will therefore apply in this context, except if the Royal Decree relating to corona parental leave derogates from them.
This corona parental leave may take the form of a reduction of working time with 1/2 or 1/5th of the number of full-time working hours.
In order to be eligible, employees must meet the following conditions:
- Be employed full-time. However, it is also possible for employees employed at 75% of a full time to apply for a reduction of 1/2;
- have a seniority with the employer of at least 1 month;
- Have a child of maximum 12 years old or 21 years old in case of a disability.
Forms of reduction
Corona parental leave of 1/2 or 1/5 of a full-time may be taken from 1 May until the day the Royal Decree ceases to come into force, as follows:
- In an uninterrupted manner;
- For the duration of one or more consecutive or non-consecutive months;
- For the duration of one or more consecutive or non-consecutive weeks ;
- For a combined duration of one or more months / weeks.
The Royal Decree shall in principle cease to be in force on 30 June 2020 but may be extended by the King.
Conversion and suspension
With the agreement of the employer, the employee :
- Who has reduced his working time with 1/2 or 1/5th in the course of ordinary parental leave, may request the conversion of ordinary parental leave into corona parental leave;
- Who has interrupted his/her career or reduced his/her benefits within the framework of ordinary parental leave, may suspend the ordinary parental leave in order to take the corona parental leave.
In these two cases, if the duration of the ordinary parental leave exceeds the date on which the Royal Decree 'corona parental leave' ceases to be in force, the ordinary parental leave will resume from the day following the day on which the Royal Decree "corona parental leave" ceases to be in force until the initial end date.
The period during which ordinary parental leave is converted into corona parental leave is not taken into account in the maximum duration of parental leave.
In order to make a valid request, the employee shall give his employer at least 3 working days' written notice of the request:
- By registered letter; or
- By delivering a written notification, for which a duplicate is signed by the employer as an acknowledgement of receipt; or
- By electronic means subject to acknowledgement of receipt by the employer.
This last notification method, which is new in this area, will certainly prove to be very practical in the light of the circumstances!
The employer must give his written agreement, in particular on the possible request for conversion or suspension of ordinary parental leave, within 6 working days of the request and before the start of the corona parental leave.
Granting of an allowance
Employees who reduce their working time in the context of coronavirus parental leave will be entitled to an allowance equal to the allowances granted in case of ordinary parental leave (same amounts, conditions, rules for granting).
The allowance must be requested in writing to the Belgian unemployment agency (ONEm/RVA) no later than 1 month after the start of the coronavirus parental leave. The conversion and suspension of ordinary parental leave must also be notified to the Belgian unemployment agency.
The Belgian unemployment agency will have the opportunity to introduce a model form for this purpose.
Kris De SchutterPartner Attorney at law
Kris De Schutter is a partner in our office in Brussels and member of Loyens & Loeff’s Employment & Benefits Practice Group. He has extensive experience in alternative (flexible) remuneration, restructuring and change processes.T: +32 2 700 10 13 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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