On 26 September 2018, the Act of 2 September 2018, which introduces a new form of parental leave at the rate of one-tenth, was published in the Belgian State Gazette.
At present, parental leave can only be taken in the form of a full-time absence from work for four months, a half-time reduction in working hours for eight months or a one-fifth reduction for 20 months.
In order to meet a growing need for work-life balance, the legislator has introduced an additional possibility for an employee to agree with his or her employer to reduce his or her working hours, within the framework of parental leave, by one-tenth of the normal number of working hours in a full-time working regime.
The specific details of this new regime (length of parental leave, schedule of reduced working hours (one day every two weeks or half a day per week, etc.) still need to be determined by Royal Decree.
Although the principle of the National Employment Office granting an ‘interruption allowance’ to employees taking advantage of this new right to one-tenth reduction in working time is enshrined in the new regulation, the Royal Decree determining the details of how this allowance is granted and the amount to be paid still needs to be amended in order to take into account this new form of parental leave.
The new legislation also provides that the employee and the employer may agree to a more flexible distribution of leave for palliative care, part-time parental leave and leave for assistance or care to a seriously ill member of the household or family.
Other amendments to extend the duration of adoption leave and parental leave for long-term foster care were also introduced by an Act of 6 September 2018. These amendments will enter into force on 1 January 2019.
The right to one-tenth parental leave became effective on 6 October 2018 (the tenth day following its publication in the Belgian State Gazette). The specific details of this new form of parental leave, as well as the conditions for granting it and the amount of the allowance to which the employee will be entitled, still need to be determined.