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Bereavement leave in Belgium will be extended and made more flexible

On 17 June 2021, a bill was passed in the Belgian Parliament to extend and ease bereavement leave in the event of the death of a partner or a child. The aim of this law is to allow sufficient time, in a medical sense, for a natural and normal grieving process.

Death of a spouse, cohabiting partner or child

From 25 July 2021, bereavement leave will be extended from three days to ten days in the case of the death of one of the following:

  • spouse of the employee;
  • cohabiting partner of the employee;
  • child of the employee;
  • child of the spouse or cohabitant partner;
  • foster child in the context of long-term foster care.

This leave will also be more flexible. Currently, the three days must be taken in the period starting on the day of the decease and ending on the day of the funeral. In future, the three days will have to be taken between the day of the decease and the day of the funeral, and the remaining seven days in the year following the day of the decease. However, at the request of the employee and with the consent of the employer, it will be possible to depart from these two rules.

Death of a first degree relative

Bereavement leave is extended to two days in the event of the death of one of the following living with the employee:

  • sister or brother of the employee;
  • brother-in-law or sister-in-law of the employee;
  • grandparent of the employee;
  • grandchild of the employee;
  • great-grandparent of the employee;
  • great-grandchild of the employee;
  • son-in-law, daughter-in-law or cohabiting partner of the employee.

These days must be taken between the day the individual dies and the day of the funeral.

If the deceased did not live with the employee, the bereavement leave remains at one day, to be taken on the day of the funeral.

In both cases, as for the timing of the leave days, parties can agree otherwise at the employee’s request.

New leave

In future, the right to bereavement leave will be extended to three days in the event of the death of one of the following:

  • parent of the spouse/cohabiting partner;
  • parent-in-law or step-parent of the employee/spouse/cohabiting partner;
  • foster parent of the employee in the context of long-term foster care at the time of death.

In these cases, the leave must be taken between the day the individual dies and the day of the funeral, unless parties agree otherwise at the employee’s request.

Finally, the employee is also entitled to bereavement leave in the case of the death of a foster child living with the employee or the employee’s spouse or cohabiting partner in the context of short-term foster care at the time of decease, for one day, to be taken on the day of the funeral, unless otherwise agreed with the employer at the employee’s request.

Action point

The situations in which employees are entitled to bereavement leave will be increased and the length of the leave will in some cases be extended. The time at which bereavement leave can be taken will also become more flexible. These provisions enter into force on 25 July 2021.

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Ius Laboris




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