Anyone who takes care of a family member will soon receive five days of paid leave: employers are not happy with new bill

Employees who care for a child or other person in the family will soon receive five days of paid leave per year from their employer. The draft law from Minister of Work Pierre-Yves Dermagne (PS) must be passed through parliament before the summer and will then take effect immediately. The employers are not amused.

Farid El Mabrouk

Better harmonize work and private life. That is the philosophy behind the new measures developed by Dermagne. Because it is recognizable to many: working hard every day and taking care of a sick mother or father or another family member after hours. And also start working for your own family.

In 2022, too, it is usually women who twist themselves every day to get it all worked out. Sometimes they start working less for that reason, sometimes they can make less career as a result. “To put an end to this, we want to coordinate the activities better,” said Minister Dermagne.

And so the government is introducing a new form of care leave, among other things. There is already a leave system for informal care and palliative care, but soon all employees who care for someone in the family or relatives will receive five days a year. For example, to visit a child who is in hospital, to assist someone with medical treatment or to accompany a family member who has to go to the residential care center. It must be reported to the company in advance, but the employer cannot refuse.

Officially, social consultations are still being held about the sector by sector, but according to Dermagne it is the intention that the employer pays. And that is not well received. “We understand that family leave is taken into account, but it is not possible that the employer has to pay. Employees must take unpaid leave in those circumstances. That seems like logic itself,” says Voka’s managing director, Hans Maertens.

Flexible working hours

In addition to the five days, the same people can also request flexible working hours from their boss. In this way the weekly timetable can be adjusted. Or someone who works part-time can ask to do the job in 2.5 days. Employers can veto this, but this must be motivated.

The measures are a transposition of a European directive from 2019, but Dermagne goes further than what Europe asks in some areas. The PS worker thus provides better protection for employees with precarious contracts who are or are at risk of being fired because they are caring for someone or are pregnant. Employers who grant no – or too little – birth leave to male employees can from now on also be sanctioned.

The Gezinsbond is pleased with the plans of the government. “All things that meet concrete questions from people who combine their family with a job”, can be heard from the organization. The fact that there will be no higher compensation for parental leave is disappointing for the Gezinsbond. “Europe asked for an appropriate fee, so that everyone could use it. But that is not the case now. We continue to ask for compensation that includes at least the minimum wage.”

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