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Maternity leave

matleaveHere you can find out the basics about maternity leave for:

You can also read about some special situations, such as how it may be possible to extend your maternity leave if your baby has to stay in hospital after the birth, or how maternity leave may be converted to paternity leave if the mother is hospitalised after the birth.

 


 

 

Employees in the Belgian system

Length of leave                                                                      

                     

                                                       

                     

You are entitled to 15 weeks maternity leave (19 weeks in the case of a multiple birth). This is divided into ‘prenatal’ and ‘postnatal’ leave.

    • Prenatal leave: one week of maternity leave is considered as obligatory prenatal leave, and can only be taken before the birth. You can start your maternity leave a maximum of 6 weeks (8 weeks for multiples) before the expected due date.

      If your baby is born early and you had not taken one week of maternity leave prior to the birth, you essentially ‘lose’ this week of leave, as your maternity leave is still calculated as having started one week before the birth.

      Note: any sick days taken during the 6 weeks (8 weeks for multiples) before the due date are considered as part of your maternity leave, even if the reason for the absence is unrelated to the pregnancy. However, any office closures or bank holidays during this period (i.e. when you are off work through no fault of your own) are not considered as part of your maternity leave.
    • Postnatal leave: with the exception of the one obligatory week of prenatal leave and any other maternity leave you took before the birth, you simply use the remainder of your maternity leave after your baby is born.

      Nine of these weeks are mandatory postnatal leave. This means that your postnatal leave will be a minimum of nine weeks and a maximum of 14 weeks (minimum of 11 and maximum of 16 weeks for a multiple birth).

Formalities  

                                                  

To receive payment for your maternity leave, you need to send a medical certificate to your mutuelle that states the expected due date of your baby and start date of your maternity leave. Check with your mutuelle when they need to receive this certificate – they may ask you to send it only once you start your maternity leave. Once you have sent the certificate, they will then send you the relevant paperwork in relation to your maternity leave rights and payments.

Your mutuelle pays your maternity leave. For the first 30 days, you will receive 82% of your gross salary (with no upper limit). As of the 31st day (and in the case where your maternity leave has been extended as explained above), this amount is fixed at 75% of your gross salary, with an upper limit of around €126 per day (correct as of April 2014).

At the end of your maternity leave, you need to send a completed 'attestation de reprise de travail' / 'bewijs van werkhervatting of van werkloosheid' (form signalling that you have resumed work) to your mutuelle. Your mutuelle will have sent you this form earlier in your pregnancy.

Read more in the document 'Clés pour devenir parent tout en travaillant' (French) or 'Wegwijs in werk en ouderschap' (Dutch)

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 Self-employed in the Belgian system

Length of leave                                                        

You are entitled to 3 to 8 weeks maternity leave (maximum 9 weeks in the case of a multiple birth). This is divided into ‘prenatal’ and ‘postnatal’ leave. 

    • Prenatal leave: one week of maternity leave is considered as obligatory prenatal leave, and can only be taken before the birth. 

      If your baby is born early and you had not taken one week of maternity leave prior to the birth, you essentially ‘lose’ this week of leave, as your maternity leave is still calculated as having started one week before the birth.

    • Postnatal leave: with the exception of the one obligatory week of prenatal leave and any other maternity leave you took before the birth, you simply use the remainder of your maternity leave after your baby is born.

      Two of these weeks are mandatory postnatal leave, and the rest can be taken either following the two mandatory weeks, or can be taken in 7-day periods at any time with the 23 weeks following the birth.
Formalities

To receive payment for your maternity leave, you need to send a medical certificate to your mutuelle that states the expected due date of your baby. You can send this as soon as possible, and by the 7th month at the latest. Your mutuelle will then send you the necessary paperwork that you need to send back to them when you start your maternity leave.

Your mutuelle pays your maternity leave. The daily amount is not dependent on your income. 

Read more on: http://www.jesuisindependant.be/banque-d-info/actualites/le-conge-de-maternite-pour-la-mere-independante (French)

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What happens if my baby has to stay in hospital?

If your baby has to stay in hospital beyond the first 7 days after the birth, you should be able to extend your maternity leave.

For employees                                                                              

                                                                                           

For each day your baby has to stay in hospital beyond the first 7 days after the birth, you can extend your maternity leave by the same number of days, e.g. if your baby stays in hospital for 10 days in total, your maternity leave is extended by 3 days. This extension of maternity leave cannot exceed 24 weeks.

The additional time is added at the end of the original period of maternity leave.

What’s the procedure?

If you need to extend your maternity leave in this way, ask the hospital for a letter in which they state that your baby had to stay in hospital longer than 7 days, and indicate how long he or she was hospitalised. You will then present this letter to your employer at the originally agreed end of your maternity leave. If at this time, your baby is still in hospital, your maternity leave can be further extended.

Read more in the document 'Clés pour devenir parent tout en travaillant' (French) or 'Wegwijs in werk en ouderschap' (Dutch)

For self-employed mothers  

                       

For each full week your baby has to stay in hospital beyond the first 7 days after the birth, you can extend your maternity leave by the same number of weeks. For example, if your baby stays in hospital for 18 days, your maternity leave is extended by one week (18 days - 7 days = 11 days = 1 full week). This extension of maternity leave cannot exceed 24 weeks.

The additional time is added at the end of the mandatory two weeks of postnatal leave.

What's the procedure?

If you need to extend your maternity leave in this way, ask the hospital for a letter in which they state that your baby had to stay in hospital longer than 7 days, and indicate how long he or she was hospitalised. You need to present this letter to your mutuelle within two weeks of the birth. If at this time, your baby is still in hospital, your maternity leave can be further extended and you will again need to ask the hospital for a letter stating the length of hospitalisation.

Read more on: http://www.jesuisindependant.be/banque-d-info/actualites/le-conge-de-maternite-pour-la-mere-independante (French)

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What happens if the mother has to stay in hospital?

If the mother is hospitalised during her maternity leave (applicable to employees), the remaining maternity leave can be converted to paternity leave if the father is also an employee.

This 'converted' paternity leave can only begin:

    • as of the seventh day after the baby's birth; and
    • if the baby has left hospital; and
    • if the mother is hospitalised for more than seven days

The father needs to inform his employer in writing before the leave begins, indicating when he will begin this paternity leave and how long he is likely to be absent. As soon as possible, he should provide his employer with a medical certificate confirming that the mother will be hospitalised for longer than seven days.

He also needs to inform his mutuelle of the situation, and provide them with a medical certificate from the hospital stating:

    • the date on which the mother was hospitalised
    • that the mother's hospitalisation is longer than 7 days
    • that the baby has left hospital

The mutuelle will then send the father the paperwork that needs to be completed. The leave will be paid by the mutuelle and is fixed at 60% of the father's salary, with an upper limit of around €126 per day (correct as of September 2012).

During this time, the mother continues to receive her maternity leave pay, and is still protected against being made redundant.

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What happens if a mother passes away during her maternity leave?

If a mother (who is an 'employee') dies during her maternity leave , the remaining maternity leave can be converted to paternity leave if the father is also an employee.

The father needs to inform his employer in writing within seven days of the mother's death, indicating when he will begin this paternity leave and how long he is likely to be absent.

He also needs to inform his mutuelle of the situation, and provide them with a death certificate and a statement from the hospital indicating that the baby has been discharged from hospital.

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References:

Self-employed mother?

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