Working Mothers in Belgium

Does the Law have provisions on maternity leave? Yes
What is the duration of maternity leave? 15.0 weeks
What percentage of the monthly salary does a worker get during maternity leave? 77  %
Who pays for maternity leave? Employer
Does the law require that workers be protected from dismissals during the term of pregnancy and maternity leave? Yes
Does the law provide for the right to return to same position after availing maternity leave? Yes
Does the law require that pregnant and nursing workers must not be engaged in harmful work? Yes
Does the law require that pregnant workers be provided free ante and post natal medical care? No
Does the law provide for breastfeeding breaks for nursing mothers? Yes
What is the duration of breastfeeding breaks, as provided by the law? One hour
What is the length of breastfeeding breaks? Breastfeeding breaks are provided for the first 9 month(s) of life of the child
Does the law require parental leave for parents? Yes
Does the law provide for paid or unpaid parental leave? Paid
What is the total duration of parental leave? 120 days
What is the wage replacement rate for parental leave? Flat rate
Who pays for parental leave? Government
Does the law require that parents with minor children or workers with other family responsibilities be provided with flexible time or part time work options? Yes

To comply with international standards, maternity leave duration should be at least 14 weeks and during maternity leave workers should be paid at least 67% of their wage.


More about maternity leave:

In general, workers are entitled to 15 weeks (6 weeks before and 9 weeks after birth) of maternity leave. One week prenatal leave and 09 weeks postnatal leave are obligatory. In the case of multiple births, prenatal leave can be extended to 08 weeks and. Similarly, postnatal leave can also be extended by 02 weeks (11 weeks in total). Therefore, the total maternity leave in the case of multiple births is either 17 weeks or 19 weeks.

In the case of self employed women, maternity leave is 08 weeks (09 weeks in the case of multiple births).

Female federal civil servants are also entitled to 15 weeks of maternity leave (17+2 weeks in the case of multiple births).

A women worker is required to submit a medical certificate indicating the expected date of birth, no later than seven weeks before the due date (nine weeks in the case of multiple births).

During Pregnancy, women workers who chose to do two part-time work jobs and have to leave one due to the risks posed by the job for the pregnancy but continue to do the other (that is not harmful to the pregnancy) can also claim maternity benefits for the period for which the interrupted job had to be left. Previously women could only claim the benefit if they completely suspended all their professional activities. Furthermore, the women will still be able to extend their post-natal leave by the optional prenatal leave for a job they continued to do while suspending their other part time job. 

Sources: §39 of Labour Act; Article 5 of The Belgian law of 25 April 2014 published in Moniteur Belge, 6 June, 2014

During the term of maternity leave (15 weeks in general cases; 17 or 19 weeks for multiple births), workers (and even unemployed and disabled women) are paid a maternity benefit. The insured person must have paid the minimum amount of contributions and must have paid these contributions for 120 days of work or days assimilated to work (annual leave, unemployment, and incapacity for work) during the last 06 months before acquiring the right to maternity benefit.
The amount of maternity benefit is as follows:
i. For gainfully employed women workers: 82% of pay (no ceiling) for the first 30 days and 75% of the capped salary (subject to a ceiling) from 31st day onwards;
ii. For disabled women: 79.5% of pay (subject to a ceiling) for the first 30 days and 75% (subject to a ceiling) from 31st day onwards; and
iii. For unemployed women: 60% of the lost salary is provided as basic allowance which is equal to unemployment benefit to which a worker would be entitled to if not in the maternity protection period. The worker can claim a complementary benefit of 19.5% during the first 30 days and 15% during the remaining period.
The maternity benefits are financed by the social security, i.e., compulsory sickness and indemnity insurance scheme.

Sources: §128 of Loi relative à l'assurance obligatoire soins de santé et indemnités coordonnée le 14 juillet 1994; §114-115 & 216-219 of Arrêté royal portant exécution de la loi relative à l'assurance obligatoire soins de santé et indemnités, coordonnée le 14 juillet 1994

More about parental leave:

Laws provide for parental leave. The parental leave provisions apply to both the public sector and private sector workers.

Only a parent (biological mother, biological father or the person who acknowledged the child to establish paternity as well as adoptive parents) are eligible for paternity leave. Each parent has an independent and non-transferable right to take paternity leave.

The right to take parental leaves lapses when the child reaches the age of 12 years. In the case of mental or physical incapacity of the child, the right lapses when the child reaches the age of 21 years. In the case of adoption, the right to parental leave is available before the child reaches the age of 12 years.  

In order to take parental leave, a worker must have worked with the employer for at least 12 months during the last 15 months preceding the application for parental leave. An employment contract is suspended during the term of parental leave.

An employee is entitled to a maximum of 04 months of parental leave and can decide between the following 3 options or even to change from one option to the other until the 04 month limit is reached:

i. Parental Leave Full Time: the employee opts to take 04 month period continuously or with gaps (however employee does not working during this time);

ii. Parental Leave Half Time: A full time employee can reduce his/her working time by half for 08 months/50% of full time employment (or can split the 08 month period of half time into many period of no less than two months each); and

iii. Parental Leave One-fifth time: A full time employee reduces his/her working time by one-fifth over 20 months/20% of full time employment (the worker can split this 20 month time in many periods however none of these periods may be less than 05 months)

Workers who fully interrupt their employment receive a flat rate of € 707.08 per month as the career interruption allowance. Workers who reduce their working time by half are entitled to €325.92 (for less than 50 years old) and €552.84 (for more than 50 years old) respectively. Workers who reduce their working time by one-fifth (and work only 80% of the time) are entitled to €110.57 (for less than 50 years old) and €221.14 (for more than 50 years old) respectively. Workers are eligible for these benefits on monthly basis from National Employment Office for the duration of their parental leave, i.e., 4 months, 08 month or 20 months. However, workers whose child was born or adopted on or after 08 March 2012 are entitled to career interruption benefit from National Employment Office for the 4th month (1st option), 7th-8th months (2nd option) or 16th-20th months(3rd option). If a child is born or adopted before this date, no benefit is paid for these extra months.

In addition to the scheme of parental leave introduced by the Royal Decree of 29 October 1997, the details of which have been mentioned above, a separate regime of parental leave was introduced in Belgium through the collective bargaining agreement No. 64 of 29 April 1997 which has subsequently amended by agreement No. 64bis of 24 February, 2015. Under this collective agreement, the right to parental leave is 4 months. Furthermore, the agreement gives the right to exercise parental leave in a flexible manner i.e. by reducing working hours in a wider variety by not only half or one-fifth, but also by one-third, one-fourth etc. Part-time workers can also take parental leave by reducing their working hours, while the maximum age of the child for which parental leave can be taken has been increased from four to eight years, although this is lesser than the age provided by the Royal decree.Finally, the CBA No. 64 introduces the right for the employee to apply for a suitable work schedule or a modified work schedule during the period following the end of the parental leave.

sources: http://www.onem.be/frames/Frameset.aspx?Language=FR&Path=D_Opdracht_LBO/Regl/&Items=1/1; Arrêté royal relatif à l'introduction d'un droit au congé parental dans le cadre d'une interruption de la carrière professionnelle, Collective Agreement No. 64bis of 24 February,2015