Belgian legislation currently provides for a 10-day non-compulsory paternity leave for fathers/co-parents, and does not provide for any compensation for pregnant women forced to convert an incapacity to work occurring six to eight weeks prior to childbirth into prenatal leave.

However, according to its recent advices of 17 December 2019 (No. 1523 and 1524) the National Labour Council is now examining different legislation proposals aiming to:

  1. ensure that fathers/co-parents actually take their paternity leave;
  2. make sure that mothers are effectively able to fully enjoy their 15 weeks of maternity leave, without an incapacity to work being converted into prenatal leave and imputed on these 15 weeks.

More specifically, the proposed laws are designed to:

  • regarding paternity leave: make it is compulsory for future fathers/co-parents to take their paternity/childcare leave for the birth of their child. The purpose of the proposed legislations is also to extend the paternity leave to 20 days and to be able to distribute these days over time.
  • regarding maternity leave: enable pregnant employees incapable for work – due to sickness or accident in the six to eight weeks prior to childbirth, and the work incapacity of whom is converted into prenatal leave – to benefit from 5-week (single birth) or 7-week (multiple births) extension of their post-natal leave for the duration equal to the duration of the incapacity observed.

Hence, the purpose of the legislation proposals is, in some way, to protect employees' rights when expecting children.

More information on this topic in future Be Aware publications.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.