Belgium (officially the Kingdom of Belgium) is a small country in Northwestern Europe, bordered by the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and France. Belgium has a strongly globalized economy and its transport infrastructure is integrated with the rest of the European continent. Belgian law provides employees with a wide range of benefits, including annual leave allowances, workplace injury insurance, and unemployment benefits.
In Belgium there is a guaranteed average minimum monthly income, and an absolute minimal income set at the national level. The guaranteed average minimum monthly income is currently 1,842 EUR per month for employees over 18 years of age.
The standard working week in Belgium is 38 hours, and anything over this is considered overtime and must be paid at 150% of the salary (200% if the work occurs on a Sunday or public holiday).
For some sectors, the maximum working time per day/week may be lower or higher based on a collective bargaining agreements and the terms of the work.
Maternity leave for Belgian employees lasts 15 weeks. Pregnant employees must take a minimum of 1 week of leave before the expected due date but they can take up to 6 weeks of leave before the due date. After that they need to take a mandatory 9 weeks of leave starting from the date of the birth. For multiple births there are an additional 2 weeks of leave.
Belgium’s Health Insurance Fund pays for maternity leave, paying 82% of the salary for the first 30 days and 75% of the salary for the rest of the leave. Paternity Leave in Belgium is 15 days that can be taken separately or continuously. The employer pays the first 3 days of the leave and the rest is paid by the Health Insurance Fund at 82% of the regular salary.
Belgian employees are entitled to sick leave. The employer pays for the first 30 days of sick leave, and any sick leave past 30 days is paid by the Health Insurance Fund.
There are 10 public holidays in Belgium, and paid time off entitlements are granted at the beginning of the year and are dependent on how many days a week the employee works. Employees with a 5-day work week receive 20 days of paid time off, and employees with 6-day work weeks receive 25 days.
Employees in Belgium may be allowed to take additional types of leave if approved by the employer. Other types of leave include: family care, jury duty, bereavement, and marriage.
Employers can terminate an employment contract after 6 months provided that there are fair grounds for dismissal (before an employee has completed 6 months notice is not necessary). Fair grounds include employee misconduct, incapability to perform work, redundancy, and other substantial reasons. Employees dismissed for just cause, and also resigned employees, will not be entitled to unemployment benefits immediately.
The termination notice period in Belgium varies based on the length of employment at the company:
Severance pay only applies in Belgium when an employee has been terminated without notice, in which case the severance pay would be equal to the amount the employee would have earned if they had received notice. An employer can choose to terminate an employment contract with a given notice period, or terminate the contract immediately with payment in lieu of notice. A combination of both is also possible.
Most employers pay a 13th-month bonus to their employees, typically at the end of the year. Some employers also add half of a 14th month’s salary. For the first and last year of employment this bonus is prorated to the amount of time the employee worked at the company that year. Employees at companies with more than 20 people can also take up to 5 paid days for vocational training each year.
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