Transfer and suspension of statutory leave
Two recent legislative amendments have brought Belgian leave legislation in line with European Court of Justice case law and the EU Employment Directive. These concern, on the one hand, the transfer and, on the other, the suspension of statutory leave.
If an employee worked the entire holiday service year in 2022 with a Belgian employer based on a Belgian employment contract, that employee is entitled to 4 weeks of statutory leave in 2023. In principle, employees must take their leave before 1 January 2024, otherwise the untaken leave days would be lost (but they will be paid out). Due to a change in the law, it is now possible, under certain conditions, to carry over unused leave to the following two years. Specifically, leave days not used but accrued during service year 2023 and earmarked for leave in 2024 can be carried over to 2025 and even to 2026. However, it is only possible to transfer unused leave days if they were not taken for very specific reasons: Accident at work and occupational illness, ” common ” illness or accident, maternity or paternity leave, birth leave, adoption leave, prophylactic leave, carers’ leave or foster parents’ leave.
Another recent change in the law allows employees who fall ill during statutory leave to no longer lose those days. Instead, the employer will “rebook” the leave days into sick days, but the employee must provide a medical certificate in time. The employer will then be liable to pay wages for the sick days under the normal rules.
This change in the law will come into force on 1 January 2024 and will therefore also apply to holidays accrued in the 2023 holiday service year and can be taken in the 2024 holiday year.