In this section you can find out more about:
paternity leave ('congé de paternité' / 'vaderschapsverlof') - sometimes also called 'birth leave' ('congé de naissance' / 'geboorteverlof') - for a father who is an employee in the Belgian system. Self-employed fathers are not entitled to any paternity leave.
- situations where the mother's maternity leave may need to be transferred to the father if both are employees in the Belgian system.
Provided they meet certain administrative criteria, married fathers are automatically entitled to take paternity leave.
Unmarried fathers will have to have made a declaration of paternity in order to be entitled.
Length of leave
You are entitled to 10 days paternity leave. Paternity leave is the same length for multiple births. There is no obligation to take this leave.
You can take the 10 days in one go, or take individual days when it suits you. However, you must use the 10 days within 4 months of the birth, otherwise you lose them.
It is not possible to take half-days.
At the end of your paternity leave, you do not need to do anything - simply go back to work!
How much am I paid?
The first 3 days of paternity leave are paid by your employer, at 100% of your usual salary.
Your mutuelle pays the remaining 7 days, at 82% of your usual salary, with an upper limit.
There are two situations in which the mother's maternity leave can be 'transferred' to the father if the mother cannot look after the baby:
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.
If the mother dies during her maternity leave (applicable to employees), 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.