Parental leave extended to 4 months

More details have emerged in connection with the Belgian Government's decision to extend parental leave. Parents of children aged under 12 years of age will in future be able to take four months' parental leave from work instead of three months as was the case until now.

The Belgian Government acted under pressure from the European Union. In Belgium parental leave is a flexible form of 'time credit' that allows you to take time off work and get a benefit at a time of your choosing. The leave must be taken up before your child turns 12.

Parental leave can be taken as fulltime leave or as halftime leave or as one day off a week. Employees on fulltime parental leave receive a 693.20 euro allowance from the state employment agency, the RVA.

Last year some 76,000 employees, mainly women, took parental leave. Until recently parental leave in Belgium was limited to three months. Under a new European directive Belgium was obliged to increase this period to 4 months.

The measure is expected to cost 2.2 million euros, but it's still unclear where the government will get this money. Employers’ organisations are not universally happy with the measure. They fear that too many employees will absent themselves from work as a result.