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Bereavement leave will soon be extended

15 July 2021 Miet Vanhegen Employers

The law on extending bereavement leave upon the death of a partner or a child, and on greater flexibility in taking bereavement leave, was published in the Belgian Official Gazette on 15 July. The law aims to expand the number of days of short leave in the event of a death, also known as bereavement leave, for employees, the self-employed and civil servants. We focus on the changes for employees.

Bereavement leave for employees

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1. In the event of death of the employee's spouse or cohabiting partner, a child of the employee or of his spouse or cohabiting partner or a foster child in the context of long-term foster care: bereavement leave is being extended to ten days.

The first three days of bereavement leave must be taken in the period beginning with the day of the death, and ending with the day of the funeral. The additional seven days may be taken within one year of the date of death. The two periods in which these days must be taken can be deviated from at the request of the employee, with the agreement of the employer.

2. Upon the death of the employee's foster father or foster mother in long-term foster care at the time of death: entitled to three days of bereavement leave to be taken in the period between the day of death and the day of funeral. Here too, the period in which these days must be taken can be deviated from at the request of the employee, subject to the agreement of the employer.

3. In the event of the death of a foster child of the employee or of his spouse or cohabitant in the context of short-term foster care at the time of death: entitlement to one day bereavement leave to be taken on the day of the funeral. This day may be taken at another time at the request of the employee, subject to the agreement of the employer.

Adjusted scheme in case of subsequent period of illness

The law also provides for an adjusted arrangement in the event of a consecutive period of illness. If there is a period of incapacity for work as the result of illness or an accident, which follows the absence because of the death of the spouse or cohabitant, of a child of the employee or of his/her spouse or cohabitant, the days of bereavement leave are credited to the period of guaranteed salary from the fourth day onwards, provided that this fourth day follows the three days of short leave that must be taken in the period between the day of the death and the day of the funeral.

What about the agreements on bereavement leave in a collective labour agreement concluded within the sector or company?

This scheme does not affect the agreements reached between employers and employees through a collective labour agreement concluded in the sector or at company level, or in the employment regulations. If such agreements already provided for more days of reduced leave within the framework of bereavement leave, these additional days granted by this collective agreement or in the labour regulations are not endorsed, and therefore not credited to the period of guaranteed salary, assuming that the period of bereavement leave is followed by a period of illness.

From when do the extensions to bereavement leave apply?

The law was published in the Belgian Official Gazette on 15/07/2021, becoming effective ten days later.

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