How many leave days are employees in Belgium entitled to?

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Annual leave entitlement

The legal entitlement for annual leave in Belgium is 20 days. This can be topped up depending on the customers’ internal policies. (Please click here to visit the official source. )

Legal holidays in Belgium are calculated based on the number of months worked in Belgium, as an employee in the private sector, during the previous year. 

Compensatory rest days: In Belgium, the legal working week is 38 hours. Belgium-based employees who work 40 hours per week receive an additional 12 compensatory rest days per year. These can be taken one day per month worked, with a pro-rated annual limit based on employment start date.

Am I entitled to legal holidays if I was onboarded through Remote in 2023?

During onboarding, new hires are requested to confirm their work situation prior to joining Remote.

  • Employees who worked in the private sector in Belgium the previous year were requested to provide holiday certificates from their previous employer(s). This allows Remote to calculate their current and next year's holiday entitlement.
  • Employees who were unemployed, worked abroad, were students, trainees, self-employed, or working in the public sector did not have to provide Remote holiday certificate as they have no right to any legal holidays in the current year.

Using annual leave

The typical policy in Belgium requires employees to use all their annual leave by the end of the year (December 31st). Legally, employers in Belgium are not obligated to compensate for unused leave, and any remaining legal holidays cannot be transferred to the following year.

Unused vacation upon termination/ offboarding

Upon termination (whether it is a resignation or a dismissal), Belgian employers must pay out to the employees in the following scenarios:

  1. You have unused legal holidays from the current year
    Example: An employee with 20 legal holiday entitlements in 2023 was dismissed in March 2023. By that time, they have only used 6 days, which means that 14 days (20-6 days) will be paid out to them with the final payout.
  2. You have legal holidays you are entitled to for the upcoming year
    Example: An employee with 20 legal holiday entitlements in 2023 was dismissed in March 2023. Since they have worked for 3 months in 2023, that gives 5 legal holidays in 2024. The employee will receive an advanced payment for the 5 legal holidays with the final payout.

Note: Public holiday replacement for July 2024

Belgian labor laws stipulate a replacement day when a public holiday falls on a non-working day. In 2024, the national holiday on July 21 (Sunday) will be observed on July 22, 2024. We have notified all Belgium-based employees. This is reflected in the Remote platform.

Extra legal holidays

  • Extra legal holidays are not mandatory by law. It’s up to the customer to decide whether they want to grant any extra-legal holidays to their employees. In employment agreements, the maximum legal entitlement will always be mentioned along with the number of extra-legal holidays to take into account.
    Example: If you have 25 holidays per year, the breakdown should be 20 legal holidays, which is the maximum legal entitlement an employee can have per year, and 5 extra-legal holidays. The legal holiday entitlement is always prorated according to the number of months worked during the previous year if the employee did not work a full year.
  • Extra legal holidays will be applied after employees have used up all their legal holidays for the year.
  • The payout amount for extra legal holidays is the same as the salary for regular working days
  • Unused extra-legal holidays will not be paid out for terminated/ offboarded employees.

Unlimited PTO

Employees with unlimited PTO will first have their legal holidays applied to their payroll whenever they take days off. They are also encouraged to use all their legal holidays by the end of the fiscal year as any unused days cannot be carried over to the next year.

See also: Request time off


*Please be advised that the information provided is for general guidance only and should not be considered legal advice. Clients are strongly encouraged to contact the Lifecycle - Time & Attendance team for expert guidance and assistance in navigating the intricate landscape of time off requirements in Belgium. Consulting with our team is imperative to ensure compliance with local employment standards legislation and clearly understand the stipulated time off and attendance related requirements. Your proactive engagement with the Time & Attendance team is vital to making informed decisions and adhering to all relevant regulations.

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