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Illness during annual leave: novelties as of 2024

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In light of European law, since Jan. 1, 2024, there have been some significant adjustments to Belgian regulations on annual leave.

If an employee becomes ill prior to or during his vacation, these days will always be considered as sick days. The employee will receive guaranteed pay for the sick days and has the right to take the vacation days later.

The vacations that the employee cannot take because of illness or because of another work interruption will be allowed to be taken at a later date. More so, if the employee is not able to take these days within the vacation year, he will be allowed to carry over the vacation days up to 24 months after the end of the vacation year.

In this article, we would like to provide the outline of this new regulation.


Your employee becomes incapacitated during annual leave

Until the end of 2023, the principle that "the first suspension prevails ": if an employee fell ill during a scheduled vacation period, these days were considered vacation days and not sick days. The employee could not recover these vacation days at a later date.

Since Jan. 1, 2024, the sick days retain the character of "illness", even if they fall in a vacation period. The employee will guaranteed salary for illness receive and retain the right to the vacation days to be taken later.


The concept of "annual leave"

The term "annual leave'' is not specified in the new regulations, so there is currently ambiguity about the exact interpretation.

Therefore, it seems appropriate to us to apply the new rules only to the statutory vacations (including youth, senior and European vacations).

Regarding ADV days and other additional vacations at the sector or company level, we would apply the previous rules of the game for now ("first suspension prevails").



If an employee becomes incapacitated during his scheduled vacation period, there are some formalities he must complete:

  • The employee must give you immediately informed of his residential address, unless this is the normally known address.
  • The employee must always - and this within the usual time limit that applies for this within your company - provide a doctor's certificate.
  • If the employee takes his "lost" vacation days immediately after the period of disability wants to include, he must also indicate this at the time he hands over his doctor's certificate to you.

As an employer, you will also explicitly include the aforementioned formalities in your labor regulations should include.


Guaranteed wages

As already mentioned, in principle, guaranteed pay will also be due for the days of disability.

For a laborer still applies that - if he becomes disabled during the collective vacation period - he is not actually entitled to guaranteed wages on behalf of the employer, but to a benefit through the health insurance fund.


Recovering "lost" vacation days

The vacation season will also are not automatically renewed, even though the employee has sent a doctor's certificate to you in a timely manner. As already communicated, the employee will send you expressly upon issuance of the doctor's certificate should request that the "lost" vacation days be taken immediately following the leave/suspension period.


Carry over unused vacation days?

Formerly workers were required to keep their Taking annual leave before the end of the vacation year. If this was not done, the employee actually lost the untaken vacation days. Only in force majeure situations were unused days paid out.

Since Jan. 1, 2024, the rules on this have been somewhat relaxed. The principle remains that vacation days must be taken before the end of the vacation year. However, if the employee was unable to take his vacation days during the vacation year, he will be able to carry forward these unused vacation days up to 24 months after the end of the vacation year.

Such transfer will only be possible in subsequent cases of work stoppage:

  • Industrial accident or occupational disease
  • Accident or illness
  • Maternity Rest
  • Substitute paternity leave in the event of the mother's death or hospitalization
  • Prophylactic leave (when the employee came in contact with persons with infectious disease)
  • Birth leave
  • Adoption leave
  • Leave for foster care
  • Foster parent leave
  • Participation in courses or study days dedicated to social promotion


Vacation days carried over must be additionally mentioned be on the vacation certificate of the employee concerned. Thus, if the employee were to change jobs, he can actually take the transferred vacation days with his new employer.

The vacation pay must always be paid out in the vacation year in which the employee normally should have taken these days.


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