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Career breaks

Several options are available when you want to take a break from your career.Several options are available when you want to take a break from your career.
Sometimes you need to take a break from your career to ensure you maintain a good life-work balance. Several options are available to you. Various types of leave are built into the Belgian social security system. Here is a brief survey of the possibilities.

The following social security measures apply to private sector workers covered by some collective bargaining agreements and in general public sector workers and civil servants too.

The website emploi.belgique.be publishes full information on leave conditions and procedures (FR/NL).

Time credit

As an employee, you have the option of putting your career on hold. You are entitled to one year’s time credit during your working life, full or part time. You don’t even have to take it in one go. You receive an allowance from the ONEM and your social security and working rights are protected during these interruptions.

In some cases you can extend your time credit to up to five years. There is no limit on reduction of working hours for the over 50s.

The National Employment Office’s website publishes the full time credit and career break regulations (FR/NL/DE).

New family members

You are entitled to leave when you are expecting a baby or adopting a child. This can be taken by either or both parents. You receive an allowance, your social security is guaranteed and you are protected against losing your job.

  • Maternity leave: expectant mothers are entitled to fifteen weeks’ maternity leave, at least nine of which must be taken after the birth. Extra days are added in the event of multiple births and breast feeding.
  • Paternity leave: expectant fathers are entitled to ten days’ leave to be taken within four months of the birth of the child.
  • Parental leave>: new mothers and fathers are entitled to three months’ full- or part-time parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child which doesn’t have to be taken in one go, up until the child’s twelfth birthday.
  • Adoption leave: employees who adopt a child are entitled to between four and six consecutive weeks’ leave (depending on the age of the child).

Family support

You can take time off to help family members get through a difficult time. Several types of leave are available when you want to help people suffering from illness part or full time or if you need to complete formalities for a child placed in your care.

  • Leave to care for a seriously ill member of your family or household: you can suspend your employment contract or reduce your working hours by 20% or 50% for between 12 and 24 months to care for a member of your family or household suffering from a serious illness. This leave is only available in three-month blocks.
  • Leave for palliative care: you can suspend your employment contract or reduce your working hours for one month to care for a person suffering from a terminal illness. This person does not have to be a member of your family. Palliative care leave can be prolonged once by one month.
  • Foster leave: foster parents can take six days’ leave every year for appointments connected with the foster situation, such as court hearings and contacts with birth parents.

Political leave

In some cases, private sector employees may take leave to fulfil political duties. The duration (full time, part time or for specific meetings) depends on the position held.

Educational leave

Private sector employees are entitled to paid educational leave (FR/NL) on full pay to follow recognised training courses.

Who to contact

  • Federal Public Service Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue
    Rue Ernest Blerot 1, 1070 Brussels
    Phone: +32(0)2 233 40 23 (FR) or +32(0)2 233 43 93 (NL)
    Email: information@emploi.belgique.be
    Online: www.emploi.belgique.be (FR/NL)
  • Federal Public Service Social Security
    Centre administratif Botanique
    Finance Tower
    Boulevard du Jardin Botanique 50 - box 100, 1000 Brussels
    Phone: +32 (0)2 528 60 11
    Online: www.socialsecurity.be (FR/NL/DE) - socialsecurity.fgov.be
  • ONEM (National Employment Office) - Brussels Branch
    Place Marcel Broodthaers 4, 1060 Brussels
    Phone: +32 (0)2 542 16 11
    Online: www.onem.be (FR/NL/DE)