Requesting leave for family reasons in the event of the illness of a child

This page was last modified on 05-01-2018

Leave for family reasons allows the parents of a child under the age of 18 to remain with them in the event of a serious illness, accident or other health reasons without loss of compensation.

The amount of leave for family reasons depends on the age of the child and is structured as follows:

  • 12 days of leave per child if the child is less than 4 years old;
  • 18 days of leave per child if the child is between 4 and less than 13 years old;
  • 5 days of leave per child if the child is between 13 and less than 18 years old and is hospitalised.

However, it can be prolonged when the child is suffering from a serious illness or impairment (such as cancer, or a hospital stay longer than 2 weeks). This extension is limited to a total of 52 weeks over a reference period of 104 weeks.

The medical certificate stating the child's and the parent's national identification number must be submitted to the competent health insurance fund no later than the third day following the absence (as is the case when an employee falls ill).

Who is concerned

The following are entitled to leave for family reasons: employees (on fixed-term or permanent employment contracts, or on a trial period), apprentices, and self-employed workers with a dependent child under the age of 18 requiring the presence of one of their parents because of a serious illness, an accident, or any other pressing health-related issues.

A dependent child is defined as a child, who at the time of the illness, requires the physical presence of one of their parents. This may be:

  • a child born in wedlock;
  • a child born out of wedlock;
  • an adopted child.

If only one parent works and the other stays at home, only the working parent is entitled to leave for family reasons. Leave for family reasons is therefore not limited to situations in which both parents work.

Prerequisites

Leave for family reasons is granted on presentation of a medical certificate attesting:

  • the illness, accident or other pressing health issue affecting the child;
  • the mandatory presence of the parent with the ill child;
  • the duration of their presence with the ill child.

How to proceed

Duration of and conditions for granting leave

The amount of leave for family reasons depends on the child's age and is divided into 3 age brackets:

the first age bracket Children of less than 4 years of age 12 days of leave per child

the second age bracket Children between 4 and and less than 13 years of age 18 days of leave per child

the third age bracket Children between 13 and less than 18 years of age and who are hospitalised 5 days of leave per hospitalised child

The duration of leave is doubled for each age bracket in case the child is a beneficiary of the special supplementary allowance.

Leave for family reasons may be split into 2 or more distinct periods, i.e., it does not necessarily have to be taken in full in one go. Distinct leave periods which do not exceed 4 hours are counted as half days.

Both parents cannot take leave for family reasons at the same time.

If approved by the Social Security Medical Board (CMSS), the period of leave for family reasons may be extended for children suffering from an exceptionally serious illness or disability such as:

  • progressive cancer;
  • a pathology (illness) requiring hospitalisation for more than 2 consecutive weeks.

The duration of the extension is determined individually on a case-by-case basis but may not exceed a total of 52 weeks over a reference period of 104 weeks.

Exemption from the age limit:

Exceptions to the age limit of 18 are made for children with a severe disability (not adolescents with exceptionally severe illnesses or impairments). Therefore, the age limit of 18 does not apply to children who receive the special supplementary allowance.

Exemptions from the time limit for leave for family reasons:

The other exception is regarding the duration of the leave: after having sought the opinion of the Social Security Medical Board, this period may be extended for children suffering from an exceptionally serious disease or deficiency such as progressive cancerous conditions and pathologies requiring intensive-care hospitalisation for more than 2 consecutive weeks. In these cases, the extension of leave for family reasons may not exceed 52 weeks over a reference period of 104 weeks.

Obligation to inform the employee's employer

On the day of their absence, regardless of the duration of the child's illness, the beneficiary of the leave for family reasons must notify their employer, or the latter's representative, in person or through an intermediary, either orally or in writing.

The absence of the beneficiary during leave for family reasons must be documented by a medical certificate that must be submitted to the employer as soon as possible (preferably on the day after the notice). This medical certificate must indicate the national identification numbers (matricule - 13-digit social security number) of the child and the parent and specify:

  • the illness, accident or other pressing health issue affecting the child;
  • the mandatory presence of the parent with the ill child;
  • the duration of their presence with the ill child.
A medical certificate must necessarily be given to the employer, regardless of the duration of the child's illness, even if it is only for one day.

The medical certificate stating the child's and the parent's national identification number must be submitted to the competent health insurance fund no later than the third day following the absence.

Leave for family reasons during a trial period

If the child's illness occurs during a trial period, the latter will be extended for a period of time equal to that of the leave, but the extension may not exceed one month.

Protection against dismissal and expiry of the employment contract

The period of leave for family reasons is treated as a period of sick leave on account of illness or an accident. Employers who are informed the same day of the leave for family reasons are therefore not allowed to inform their employee of the termination with notice of their work contract, or to summon them to a pre-dismissal interview.

The termination of a contract in violation with the aforementioned provisions is abusive and gives rise to the payment of damages.

This protection only applies during the absence of the beneficiary as provided for in the medical certificate, and therefore does not automatically cover the entire duration of the child's illness.

Protection against dismissal is not applicable if:

  • the beneficiary did not inform their employer on the first day of their absence;
  • a medical certificate was not submitted to the employer;
  • the employer was informed of the leave, or the medical certificate was submitted, after the beneficiary had received the dismissal letter or was summoned to a pre-dismissal interview;
  • the beneficiary was guilty of serious misconduct.

This protection has no effect on the expiry of the fixed-term employment contract.

Any dispute arising between an employer and an employee relating to leave for family reasons as provided for in an employment or apprenticeship contract is within the jurisdiction of the labour courts.

Allowance for leave for family reasons

Leave for family reasons is treated as a period of sick leave on account of illness or an accident.

As a result, during leave for family reasons, employees in the private sector continue to be compensated by their employer. The benefits paid during the leave for family reasons are paid by the employer, who will be reimbursed all related salary costs during said leave by the Employers' Mutual Insurance Scheme (MDE). The same applies to public-sector employees, who are entitled to continued compensation throughout the period of leave.

The sickness benefit is calculated with reference to the gross compensation that the employee would have earned had they continued to work during the leave for family reasons, and is capped at 5 times the social minimum wage. For apprentices, the calculation is based on the apprenticeship pay.

Similarly, the MDE pays all cash allowances granted to self-employed workers for each day of leave taken and declared to the competent health fund with a certificate.

Payment

In principle, employees in the private sector continue to be compensated by their employer.

The benefits paid during the leave for family reasons are paid by the employer, who will be reimbursed all related salary expenses which occurred during the leave by the Employer's Mutual Insurance scheme, on condition that the worker declared the leave for family reasons by submitting a medical certificate to the competent health fund and that the employer declared the leave to the Joint Social Security Centre (CCSS).

If the insured person is no longer entitled to a salary by the employer (>77 sick days within a period of 12 months), the benefits are paid directly by the National Health Fund (CNS).

Self-employed workers insured with the Employers' Mutual Insurance Scheme should declare their leave for family reasons to the competent health fund by sending them the medical certificate in order to receive the benefits from the Employers' Mutual Insurance Scheme.