Public holidays and paid leave in Belgium: what, when, and how


All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. That’s why, as a worker in Belgium, you are entitled to different types of paid leave, including numerous public holidays. Here’s what you can expect, so you can schedule your time off as efficiently as possible.

Public holidays in Belgium

Belgium has 10 public holidays in total, including:

  • New Year’s Day (1 January)
  • Easter Monday
  • Labour Day (1 May)
  • Ascension Thursday
  • Pentecost Monday
  • National holiday (21 July)
  • Assumption of Mary (15 August)
  • All Saints’ Day (1 November)
  • 1918 Armistice (11 November)
  • Christmas Day (25 December)

Most businesses are closed on these days, but there are exceptions. At Link2Europe, we’ll make sure you are properly informed about this. Keep in mind that public services and offices are closed as well, however, which means the best thing to do is to just relax – and maybe head for the beach?

Annual leave and holiday bonus

In Belgium, your annual leave in the private sector is calculated based on the number of days you worked during the preceding year. For example, if you worked a full year in 2019, this means you’re entitled to 20 vacation days in 2020. However, if you are employed by an employment agency, you’ll get a holiday bonus, which is paid by the RJV. This holidays supplement is equal to 15.38 percent of your earnings in the preceding year.  

Taking a leave of absence

If this is your first year working in Belgium, chances are you won’t have any annual leave. Not to worry: every worker in Belgium is entitled to leaves of absence from work for family events and to comply with civic obligations. To make sure you get paid, you need to inform your employer in advance or as soon as possible. In case of an unforeseen event – such as a loved one getting in an accident, a fire at your home etc. – workers in Belgium may also take leaves of absence. However, this leave is limited to 10 working days per year and isn’t paid.

Maternity and parental leave

Pregnant women in Belgium get three months of paid maternity leave. Fathers usually get 10 days of paternity leave after the birth of their child. New mothers also get the possibility of adding an extra three months of breastfeeding leave, while fathers can opt to work four days out of five for a certain period as well.

Belgians are hard workers – but they also like their holidays. To make sure you get all the paid leave you are entitled to as an expat, your best bet is to refer to an international organisation like Link2Europe. Find out which opportunities we have in store for you!