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On time at the school gates

23 August 2022 Annelies Bries Employers

From next week onwards, most pupils will be able to return to school full-time (for the time being). It is once again time for working parents to find a new balance between work and school hours. What are the legal options?

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Sliding working hours

Sliding hours offer your employees a certain flexibility while respecting their weekly working hours. On the one hand, they consist of basic times, which are fixed periods during which your employee must be present and available; and on the other hand sliding times; variable periods during which your employee can determine the start and end of the working day as well as any breaks provided for. The sliding timetable is therefore not a timetable that is imposed and determined in advance. Of course, the employee must take the organisation of the company into account, and may not work more than 9 hours a day.

Catch-up rest for overtime

Some employees might have worked lots of overtime. Usually, your employee should be able to take catch-up rest to compensate for the overtime worked at a later time. You could agree with your employee to take the accrued hours of catch-up rest in order to be at the school gates on time.

Career Savings

Through career savings, your employees can save up overtime and non-statutory holidays in order to take paid leave at a later date. For example, your employee can now catch up on the overtime he saved last year.

Maybe you already have a career savings system? In that case, you could ask the employee to take the saved hours now in order to end his working day earlier or start later. If your employee has not saved any hours yet, he will not be able to make use of them.

Holidays and leave without pay

The employee may request to take certain days or hours of paid vacation. The time at which annual leave is taken must always be determined by mutual agreement between the employer and employee. Thus, the employee cannot impose their leave or give notice the day after their absence. If the leave is taken without prior permission, you can consider it an unauthorised absence.

If your employee has exhausted their vacation days, they could request a day or a number of hours of leave without pay. They need your approval for this too. If there is no such agreement, you can also assume an unjustified absence.

Parental leave or time credit

For example, your employee can reduce their career by 1/5 or 1/10 by making use of parental leave to take care of their child younger than 12 years. The employer and employee may agree to spread the reduction (e.g. in the case of a 1/5 time credit 7.6 hours in a 38-hour week) over the working week, so that the employee can stop a little earlier each day. The rules on part-time work must be respected and the average reduced employment must be achieved within the reference period (in principle 3 months, extendible to 1 year) and in any case within the period for which the parental leave was requested.

Please note that Covid-19 parental leave is no longer possible in 2022. If the school or day care centre of your employee's child has to close due to Covid-19 or the child itself has to go into quarantine or isolation to limit the spread of the Covid-19, you will be able to claim temporary unemployment on grounds of force majeure. Your employee is also able to take 1/2 or 1/5 time credit for looking after their child under the age of 8 if they meets all the conditions.

However, a 1/5 time credit must always be taken by working one day a week or two half-days less (unless an exception is made by collective agreement or in the labour regulations, but this is only possible in a limited number of cases). If your employee asks to take a 1/2 time credit, the method of taking the time credit hours can be agreed upon. The rules on part-time work must be respected and the average reduced employment must be achieved within the reference period (in principle 3 months, extendible to 1 year) and in any case within the period for which the time credit was requested.

Telecommuting

In the case of both structural and occasional teleworking, the teleworker organises their own work within the framework of the working time applicable in the enterprise. This means that the employee must perform the number of hours provided for in the work schedule, without having to strictly comply with the work schedule. For example, an employee could leave for an hour to pick up the kids if they work that hour later in the day. In order to avoid discussions and surprises, it is therefore appropriate and useful to formalise the necessary agreements in the written telework agreement, and you can ask them to be available at certain times.

Home working in your organisation?

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Written by Annelies Bries

Legal advisor at Acerta

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