Can your employee take time off because his house was damaged? (Payroll Belgium)

Success key 4: Can your employee take time off because his house was damaged?

Storm Ciarán has left the country by now, but unfortunately has left a trail of destruction in its wake.

Some employees may have contacted you to inform you that their house has been damaged and they need to address the situation immediately, causing them to take time off work.  How will such this time off be treated from a legal point of view?

Leave for compelling reasons

Also called “social leave”. This time off is meant for sudden situations which prevent the employee from coming to work (e.g. a fire in the employee’s house or a sick child,…) or require him to leave work immediately as his presence is needed. Staying at home or returning home to address damage caused by a storm, would certainly qualify for social leave.

The employee:

  • needs to inform his employer as soon as possible;
  • may only be absent for the time needed to solve the issue. Usually, parties are flexible in that regard;
  • may take maximum 10 days of social leave per calendar year. These days are unpaid, but assimilated for some entitlements such as the holiday entitlement.

Time off alternatives

If your employee needs more time off than the social leave allows, the employee may of course always to take paid leave, such as holidays.

As an employer, you can also authorize unpaid leave, but do note that:

  • we recommend that you have a request in writing from the employee for unpaid leave;
  • the unpaid leave impacts the salary, holiday pay and end of year premium;
  • unpaid leave is not a right of the employee.


Lastly, do note that for other events in the employee’s private life (without the urgency of the above type of leave), paid leave may be possible, depending on the occasion (funeral, wedding, jury duty etc…).

If you would like more information on time off, Pro-Pay can advise you on this matter. You can use the contact sheet to reach out to them.

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