Public holidays

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    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)

    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) ;
    • 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

    • Belgian Act of 4 January 1974 regarding public holidays.

      A consolidated version of the text can be found via the following links : in French language http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/loi/loi.htm : choose “loi” in “Nature juridique” and “1974-01-04” in “date de promulgation” or in Dutch language : http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/wet/wet.htm choose “wet” in “Juridische aard” and “1974-01-04“ in “afkondigingsdatum”) ;
       
    • Royal Decree of 18 April 1974 implementing the Belgian Act of 4 January 1974 regarding public holidays.

      A consolidated version of this text can be found via the following links: in French language http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/loi/loi.htm : choose “arrêté royal” in “Nature juridique” and “1974-04-18” in “date de promulgation” or in Dutch language : http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/wet/wet.htm choose “koninklijk besluit” in “Juridische aard” and “1974-04-18“ in “afkondigingsdatum”).