Protective measures for pregnant women

In Belgium, pregnant workers are entitled to 15 weeks' maternity leave. It consists of two periods:

  • pre-natal leave of 6 weeks
  • post-natal leave of 9 weeks

Pre-natal leave

At the pregnant worker's request, this leave starts at the earliest six weeks before the expected date of delivery. This date should be substantiated in the medical certificate which the woman concerned should submit to her employer no later than seven weeks before that date.

This pre-natal leave comprises the following:

  • an optional period of rest during the first five weeks. This may be taken up, at the worker's choice, either in full before the one-week obligatory pre-natal rest (see below) or after the nine-week obligatory post-natal rest, or partly before the obligatory pre-natal rest and partly after the obligatory post-natal rest;
  • one-week's obligatory rest before delivery. It is prohibited for an employer to employ a pregnant woman from the seventh calendar day preceding the expected date of delivery.

If the child is born later than the expected date of delivery, pre-natal leave is extended to the actual date of delivery.

Post-natal leave

Post-natal leave comprises the following:

  • nine weeks obligatory leave immediately after delivery. In no case may an employer employ the woman concerned during this period, even if she asks for it or agrees to it;
  • and, where appropriate, following this obligatory post-natal leave, the whole or part of the period of five weeks optional pre-natal leave. This leave can be transferred only on condition that the woman resumed her work from the sixth week preceding the actual date of delivery.

Where the worker can extends the work interruption after the ninth week with at least two weeks, she can convert the last two weeks of this period into days off of post-natal rest. The worker must take these days off within eight weeks from the end of the post-natal leave.

In addition to maternity leave, a pregnant worker or a worker breastfeeding her child may temporarily be banned from carrying out certain jobs that are recognised as intrinsically hazardous. The list of such work has been laid down by royal decree (see Well-being at work).

It is also prohibited for employers to allow pregnant women to do overtime.