Here you can find out the basics about maternity leave for:
- employees in the Belgian system; and
- self-employed mothers (‘mères indépendantes’ / ‘zelfstandige moeders’) in the Belgian system
You can also read about some special situations, such as:
- how it may be possible to extend your maternity leave if your baby has to stay in hospital after the birth;or
- how maternity leave may be converted to paternity / co-parent leave if the mother is hospitalised after the birth or in the tragic situation where the mother dies after birth.
Maternity leave for employees in the Belgian system
If you are employed on a Belgian contract, you are entitled to 15 weeks maternity leave (19 weeks in the case of a multiple birth).
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Maternity leave for self-employed mothers in the Belgian system
If you are self-employed in the Belgian system, you are entitled to up to 12 weeks maternity leave (maximum 13 weeks in the case of a multiple birth), with a minimum of three weeks.
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Good to know
You do not have to pay social security for the trimester following the birth of your baby. This benefit is accorded automatically by the ‘caisse d’assurances sociale’ / social insurance fund.
What happens if my baby has to stay in hospital?
If your baby has to stay in hospital beyond the first 7 days after the birth, you should be able to extend your maternity leave.
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What happens if a mother cannot look after her baby?
There are two situations in which the mother’s maternity leave can be ‘transferred’ to the father / co-parent if the mother cannot look after the baby:
What happens if the mother has to stay in hospital?
If the mother is hospitalised during her maternity leave (applicable to employees), the remaining maternity leave can be converted to paternity / co-parent leave if the father is also an employee.
This ‘converted’ leave can only begin:
- as of the seventh day after the baby’s birth; and
- if the baby has left hospital; and
- if the mother is hospitalised for more than seven days.
The father / co-parent needs to inform his employer in writing before the leave begins, indicating when he/she will begin this leave and how long he/she is likely to be absent. As soon as possible, he/she should provide his employer with a medical certificate confirming that the mother will be hospitalised for longer than seven days.
He/she also needs to inform his mutuelle of the situation, and provide them with a medical certificate from the hospital stating:
- the date on which the mother was hospitalised;
- that the mother’s hospitalisation is longer than 7 days; and
- that the baby has left hospital.
The mutuelle will then send the father / co-parent the paperwork that needs to be completed. The leave will be paid by the mutuelle and is fixed at 60% of the father’s salary, with an upper limit of around €126 per day (correct as of September 2012).
During this time, the mother continues to receive her maternity leave pay, and is still protected against being made redundant.
What happens if the mother passes away?
If the mother dies during her maternity leave (applicable to employees), the remaining maternity leave can be converted to paternity / co-parent birth leave if the father / co-parent is also an employee.
The father / co-parent needs to inform his/her employer in writing within seven days of the mother’s death, indicating when he/she will begin the paternity / co-parent leave and how long he/she is likely to be absent.
He/she also needs to inform his mutuelle of the situation, and provide them with a death certificate and a statement from the hospital indicating that the baby has been discharged from hospital.
Read more about maternity leave for employees and unemployed mothers on the website of the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (French and Dutch).
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