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Can you take time off to stay home if your child or partner is sick?

This might have happened to you too: you are getting ready in the morning but your child is running a fever. Or someone calls you at work to tell you that your partner had a work accident. Can you just stay home or leave your workplace? And what about your salary?

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Compelling reasons: a prerequisite

You can stay home from work in the above cases. But there is one prerequisite: it must be due to ‘compelling reasons’. In other words,

  • It is an unforeseen event;
  • An event that has nothing to do with your work, and only concerns your private life.
  • Only you can resolve the issue, for example, because nobody else can pick up your child.
  • It is impossible to resolve the situation from your place of work.

While your child’s or partner’s sudden illness is a typical example of a compelling reason, a planned hospitalization is not.

Examples of compelling reasons

We also speak of compelling reasons in the following cases:

  • Your home is burgled during the night.
  • You must appear at a court hearing because you are a party to the dispute.
  • Your possessions have been seriously damaged, by a fire or natural disaster for example.

Leave for compelling reasons

You are entitled to 10 days’ leave per year for compelling reasons. If you work part-time, your number of days is proportional to your work schedule.

You cannot just take a whole day off if you don’t need it. The law specifies that you may be absent for as long as necessary to resolve the situation.

Wait a bit before you leave to pick up your little one since you have to inform your boss in advance of your absence. Not possible? In that case, let him know as soon as possible afterward. By the way, your boss is also entitled to ask you at any time to support your absence with proof of the situation, a doctor’s certificate concerning your child for instance.

Short leave

Don’t confuse a leave for compelling reasons with a short leave. In the latter case, you get paid leave for events such as:

  • your wedding or that of a family member
  • the birth or adoption of a child
  • the death of a family member

The events that can be invoked for a short leave are stipulated in advance.

No salary during your absence

Will you get your salary if you are absent from work due to a compelling reason? No. However, some individual or collective agreements contain provisions allowing payment of wages in such circumstances. It’s worth reading through yours once more.

The time during which you are absent does not count as working time. Consequently, your employer cannot ask you to make up for the working time you missed. But you can always offer to do it, of course.

Did you ever take leave for compelling reasons? Tell us how it went if you did!