The Act of 28 March 2021 introduced the entitlement to paid leave of absence (‘klein verlet’/’petit chômage’) for the time it takes to get vaccinated against COVID-19; the so-called vaccination leave. This type of paid leave of absence entered into force on 9 April 2021 and was initially set to expire on 31 December 2021.
However, the entitlement to vaccination leave was extended until 30 June 2022 by the Act of 23 December 2021, which was published in the Belgian Official Gazette of 12 January 2022.
In addition, the scope of the vaccination leave was expanded. Indeed, as of 1 January 2022, employees will also be entitled to paid leave of absence to accompany one of the following persons to get vaccinated: an underaged child they live under the same roof with, their adult child with a disability or someone who is under their legal guardianship. In all of these cases, the leave of absence can only be used by one of the parents or guardians.
The general principles of the system of paid vaccination leave stay the same. In order to be entitled to this leave of absence, the employee must notify their employer up front, i.e. as soon as possible once the moment of vaccination is known. In addition, the employee is only entitled to be absent with pay for the actual time it takes to get themself or their underaged child, adult child with a disability or individual under their legal guardianship vaccinated. The employee is required to use the paid leave to get vaccinated or to accompany a qualifying individual to get vaccinated and no other activities are therefore allowed during this vaccination leave.
If an employee invokes the application of vaccination leave, the employer is allowed to ask for supporting evidence. In principle, presenting the confirmation of the appointment to be vaccinated is sufficient in this respect. If this confirmation, however, does not mention the time of vaccination, the vaccination invite itself must be presented. The employer can only use the received information for the purpose of organising the work and ensuring a correct payroll administration. Therefore, the employer is not allowed to take a copy of the appointment confirmation or to manually transcribe its content, with the exception of the time of the appointment. The absence of the employee can only be registered as paid leave of absence and the employer is not allowed to register the reason for the leave of absence and/or register that the employee suffers from health problems.
If you have any questions in this respect, do not hesitate to reach out, we’d love to hear from you.