Who is concerned
Unpaid leave for training purposes is available to (salaried) workers who:
- are employed in the private sector and;
- have worked at least 2 years for their employer, irrespective of the type of employment contract held.
Age and place of residence do not affect the right to unpaid leave.
Eligible training courses granting the right to unpaid leave are those:
- provided by institutions in Luxembourg and abroad which are classified as public or private schools (schools, universities, higher education establishments), which are recognised by public authorities and which issue diplomas recognised by said authorities;
- provided in Luxembourg by secondary technical education and/or continuous vocational training institutions, resulting in a diploma or a certificate of participation marking the successful completion of the course.
The cumulative period of unpaid leave for training purposes is set at 2 years maximum per employer:
- the minimum period of leave is 4 consecutive weeks;
- the maximum period of leave is 6 consecutive months;
The period of leave is always given in whole weeks or months and must correspond to the duration of the training.
How to proceed
Administrative formalities to be carried out by employees
The application must be made to the employer by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt or by letter delivered in person with acknowledgement of receipt.
When requesting unpaid leave, the notice or the notification period to be respected by the applicant is:
- 2 months for leave of less than 3 months;
- 4 months for leave of 3 months or more.
The application must include the following information:
- type of training course;
- duration of the training course;
- training institution;
- the period(s) of leave requested;
- a note stating that if the employer fails to reply within 30 days, the application is automatically accepted.
Administrative formalities to be carried out by the employer
Following the application for unpaid leave for training purposes, the employer must reply within 30 days in writing with acknowledgement of receipt.
If the employer fails to reply, the first period of requested leave (in the event of several periods) is automatically accepted.
The employer can:
- accept the request for leave on the condition that the (salaried) worker provides a certificate of participation in the training course for which he is taking unpaid leave;
- refuse if:
- the applicant is a senior manager or;
- if the business regularly employs less than 15 employees;
- postpone the leave for a period which may not exceed:
- 1 year when the period of leave requested is less than or equal to 3 months;
- 2 years when the period of leave requested exceeds 3 months.
Unpaid leave can be postponed only if:
- the period of requested leave would seriously disrupt work.
For example: when a significant proportion of employees in one department are absent for an extended period during the period of leave requested;
- the applicant cannot be replaced in time within the notification period (notice period) due to the specific nature of the work carried out by the applicant or the shortage of workers in the targeted field/profession;
- the work is of seasonal character and the application covers this period.
In the event of several parallel requests for unpaid leave from the same department or business, and where these requests cannot be granted simultaneously for obvious operational reasons, priority will be given to seniority (if the employees have reached no agreement).
Interruption of unpaid leave for training purposes
As soon as the employer has accepted the application for unpaid leave for training purposes, this agreement is irrevocable for the (salaried) worker and the employer.
However, in the event of force majeure, the employer may withdraw his approval or the (salaried) worker may withdraw his request under certain conditions:
- a (salaried) worker may return to his job, for the period of leave originally agreed, only if he has not already been replaced by an employee taken on with a fixed-term contract;
- after the period of leave has begun, the (salaried) worker can only end the unpaid leave with the employer's agreement;
- if the employer withdraws his acceptance: he must compensate the (salaried) worker for all paid and non-recoverable training fees.
Illness during the leave
Falling sick during unpaid leave does not give the (salaried) worker the right to extend the period of unpaid leave.
In the event of illness lasting more than 25 % of the period of leave, or due to force majeure, resulting in the (salaried) worker being unable to participate (fully or partially) in the training course, he may request to terminate his leave. The employer must approve the termination of unpaid leave, unless he is unable to reintegrate the (salaried) worker before the end of the requested period of leave due to overriding organisational reasons.
Consequences of leave on the employment contract of the (salaried) worker
During unpaid leave for training purposes the employment contract is suspended (temporary interruption of the conditions of the employment contract) but not terminated.
The employer must therefore de-register the (salaried) employee from the Joint Social Security Centre (Centre commun de la Sécurité sociale - CCSS) by sending an discharge notice for employees.
The employer is obliged to keep the (salaried) worker's position open. On his return, the (salaried) worker will be granted all of the advantages he acquired before his leave, or a similar job corresponding to his qualifications and with a salary at least equivalent to his previous one. The seniority acquired before the start of the contract is also maintained.
When the (salaried) worker returns to work, the employer must re-register him at the CCSS by sending an entry declaration form for employees.