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Parental leave

Parental leave - a chance to enjoy your child's early years

Parents who are employees in the Belgian system are each entitled to take parental leave of up to 4 months per child, before that child turns 12. If your child was born:

    • after 8 March 2012, this leave is paid for up to 4 months;
    • before 8 March 2012, this leave is only paid for up to 3 months. The fourth month is unpaid.

Both the mother and father have the right to take this leave, though the leave is not transferrable. If one parent does not use his/her entitlement to parental leave before the cut-off, it is simply lost.

Adoptive parents are also entitled to take parental leave.


When can I take this leave?

All biological and adoptive parents are entitled to take parental leave before their child turns 12 (21 in the case of a handicapped child). Adoptive parents are entitled to take parental leave as of the moment the child is officially registered at the commune as part of their household. 

Other eligibility requirements

At the time you make the request for parental leave to your employer, you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months in the 15 months prior to the request.

If you meet the conditions, your employer cannot refuse a request to take parental leave. However, they can ask that you delay it by a maximum of 6 months.

Do I have to take the 4 months in one go?

You can use your parental leave:

    • in one go (i.e. a single period of 4 months);
    • in several periods of minimum one month; 
    • to temporarily reduce your working hours to 80% or 50% (e.g. you can reduce your working time to 80% for a period of 20 months, or to 50% for a period of 7 months) if you work full-time or combine two part-time jobs



As the procedures for applying for this kind of leave are rather complex, its best to check with your Human Resources department.

If you take a full-time parental leave, you are p