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Public holidays

 

Principle : prohibition on working

In principle, workers may not be employed on 10 statutory public holidays per calendar year, irrespective of the nature of their job, their seniority and the duration of their work.

These public holidays are as follows:

  • 1 January
  • Easter Monday
  • 1 May
  • Ascension
  • Whit Monday
  • 21 July
  • Assumption (15 August)
  • All Saints' Day (1 November)
  • Armistice Day (11 November)
  • Christmas (25 December)

NB ! Substitute day  

If a public holiday coincides with a Sunday or an ordinary day of inactivity in the undertaking (usually Saturday), it should before or after that date be replaced by another day of rest (substitute day) which must be fixed on an ordinary day of activity.
In this case, the public holiday loses its character of public holiday and the substitute day becomes the actual public holiday.

The substitute day is determined :

  • by the joint committee (to find out to which joint committee your undertaking belongs, you can contact the Belgian Labour Inspectorate : SPOC.LabourInspection@employment.belgium.be)

    NB ! : As regards companies falling within the competences of the joint Committee n°124 Building sector the public holiday of 25 December 2016, falling on Sunday, is replaced by Monday 26 December 2016 and the public holiday of 1 January 2017, falling on Sunday, is replaced by Monday 2 January 2017.

     
  • failing this, through agreement with the trade union representative or
     
  • failing this, through a collective agreement between the employer and all the workers
     
  • failing this, by common consent between the employer and each worker.

Nonetheless, in the absence of an agreement at these various levels, the public holiday will be replaced by the first ordinary day of activity in the undertaking following that public holiday.

Derogations from the prohibition principle 

Workers may be employed on a public holiday or on a substitute day in the cases of derogations where work on Sunday is permitted.

In this case, the worker is entitled to compensatory rest as follows:

  • a full day if his work lasted for more than four hours; 
  • half a day if his work did not last more than four hours.

The period of compensatory must coincide with a normal day of activity of the worker.
In other words, the period of compensatory rest may not coincide with an ordinary day of inactivity, or a day of rest granted after the normal working time limits have been exceeded, or as part of shorter working hours.

This compensatory rest must be granted within the six weeks following the public holiday or substitute day. 

Remuneration

The employer must pay wage/salary for the public holidays, the substitute day and the compensatory rest.

  • The wage/salary for a public holiday or a substitute day is equal to the remuneration which the worker would have normally earned if he had worked on that day.
    This means that the remuneration comprises not only the basic wage/salary but also any bonuses and other benefits the worker would have received if he had worked on that day.
     
  • In respect of a day of compensatory rest, the worker is entitled to receive his normal wage/salary that he would have received if he had worked that day (normal wage/salary, bonuses and benefits).

Legal basis

FPS Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue

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