Belgium: Short Leave for Covid Vaccination
The Act of 28 March 2021 providing for a right to a short leave for workers in order to receive a vaccine against the coronavirus COVID-19 was published in the Official Gazette on 9 April 2021 and entered into force on the same day. It will cease to apply on 31 December 2021 (unless the Government decides to prolong it until 30 June 2022).
The Act grants employees the right to be absent from work, with retention of their normal pay, in order to receive a vaccine for protection against the coronavirus (COVID-19). The employee is granted this right for the time necessary for the vaccination.
In order to be entitled to the retention of the wage, the employee must inform the employer in advance and, as soon as possible, of the time or time slot for the vaccination is made known to him. The employee can only use this leave for the purpose for which it is permitted (i.e. going to the vaccination centre, getting the vaccine and returning).
At the request of the employer, the employee must provide proof of this. The submission of the confirmation of the timeslot to be present at a vaccination centre, is to be considered as sufficient proof. If this confirmation does not state the exact time or location of the vaccination, the employee can use the invitation to vaccinate as proof.
The employer may only use the information that he obtains in this way with a view to organisation of work and to ensure correct payroll administration. Because of the importance of the protection of the personal data of the employees, the employer is not allowed to make a copy or take a copy of the confirmation of appointment or the information it contains, in any form whatsoever, with the exception of the time of the vaccination. The employer can only register the absence as “short leave” (kort verlet/chomage temporaire) without stating the reasons for it.
This short leave is seen as the same type of leave as regulated by Article 30 of the Employment Contracts Act. The same principles and rules apply.
In case the employee becomes ill because of/after the vaccination, this is not covered by this short leave for the vaccination, but the normal rules for absence due to illness should be applied.
The Act applies to all employees and employers associated by an employment contract. For (federal) civil servants, Circular No 693. – Guidelines for staff of the Federal Administrative Office on the granting of service exemptions for coronavirus vaccination (COVID-19) and service exemptions for volunteers at the vaccination centres is applicable (Published on 9 March in the Official Gazette).