Days of temporary unemployment due to force majeure are, in principle, not taken into account for the accrual of holiday entitlement.
The Royal Decree of 4 June 2020 now makes an exception for periods of temporary unemployment due to force majeure in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. These days of temporary unemployment are also to be taken into account for the calculation of the duration of holidays and holiday pay.
This exception applies to temporary unemployment during the period from 1 February to 30 June 2020.
A female employee is entitled to 15 weeks maternity leave, consisting of six weeks prenatal leave and nine weeks postnatal leave. Of those six weeks of prenatal leave, one week must be taken off mandatorily, while five weeks can be carried over, wholly or in part, until after the nine weeks of postnatal leave.
This transfer is only possible if the employee has continued to work. Certain days of inactivity during prenatal leave are assimilated to periods of work, so that these days can also be carried over until after the postnatal leave.
However, periods of temporary unemployment for reasons of force majeure, temporary unemployment for economic reasons for white-collar workers and incapacity for work are not assimilated. In other words, these periods during the six weeks before birth cannot be carried over beyond postnatal leave.
The approved legislative proposal will change this: it is now possible to transfer periods of temporary unemployment and incapacity for work beyond postnatal leave. In this way, the legislator wishes to ensure that women who become temporarily unemployed or incapacitated for work in the six weeks prior to childbirth do not lose part of their maternity leave.
These adapted rules enter into force retroactively as from 1 March 2020 for an indefinite period of time.
Employers should take into account that periods of temporary force majeure unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the period from 1 February to 30 June 2020 are to be assimilated to working days for the calculation of holiday entitlements.
In the context of the transfer of prenatal leave, periods of temporary unemployment due to force majeure and economic reasons and periods of incapacity for work should also be taken into account.