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Belgium: social partners in favour of creating a leave allowance for Covid-19 vaccinations
Planet Labor, 8 February 2021, n°12348 -

Following a request by Pierre-Yves Dermagne, Belgium’s economy and employment minister, the country’s National Labour Council – a body made up of representatives from employer associations and trade unions, serving primarily an advisory function – issued a favourable opinion (here in French) on the introduction of a special leave allowance, paid by employers, for staff attending an appointment to get vaccinated against Covid-19. The National Labour Council issued its opinion on 5 February following a brief period analysing the issue. It comes as the Belgian government prepares bill that will set a target of vaccinating 70% of the population. The measure, which will be introduced on a temporary basis until 31 December 2021 and may be extended to 1 July 2022, is supported by the Council, which considers it necessary in order to ensure “a real economic recovery through rapid vaccination of the largest possible portion of the population”. The opinion however calls for consultation on a number of elements that it believes need to be clarified or revised. For example, it calls for national uniformity in the administrative arrangements for implementing this right and considers that such arrangements should provide employers with a prior notice period to adapt the way work is organised. The Council also demands that workers should have the option of taking an alternative appointment for vaccination if the first one suggested is not suitable and also calls for a guarantee that “no pressure be put on workers in this context to have the vaccination outside working hours”. It also advocates the addition of a paragraph specifying that in order to benefit from the paid leave, the worker is obliged to inform their company as soon as they have been notified of the appointment date. Finally, the social partners in the National Labour Council demand to be involved in monitoring the impact of the measures, by means of an interim assessment before 30 June 2021.