HR Solutions
19 August 2023

What about your remaining holidays at the end of the year?

by Marie-Laure Dekeyzer

In only a few more weeks, the current year will come to an end. Perhaps your employees have not yet taken their full holiday allowance, especially if they were temporarily unemployed due to the Covid pandemic this year. What happens to such leftover holiday allowance? Must it be used up, carried over to the next year or paid out by the employer?

Generally speaking, both white and blue-collar workers are entitled to four weeks of annual leave per calendar year. Often, they will have a right to other types of leave as well. Examples include reduction of working hours (ADV days), seniority leave and non-statutory leave days for a specific sector or company. Each type of leave has its own rules.

Annual holiday leave

According to Belgian holiday legislation, annual leave cannot be carried over or paid out. This also means employees will lose any unused days. The only exception to this rule is employees for whom it is not reasonably practicable to take all their remaining leave before the end of the year.

Additionally, as blue-collar workers receive their annual leave from the National Office for Annual Leave (Rijksdienst for Jaarlijkse Vakantie), they retain their right to holiday pay even if they have not used their full entitlement.

Non-statutory leave

The situation is different for non-statutory leave or seniority leave within a company. No legal framework is provided for these types of leave. In other words, the employer makes the rules. You can decide to allow non-statutory leave days to be carried over to the next calendar year, for example. It’s recommended to include such provisions in your company rules. If no relevant provisions are contained in the individual employment contract or company rules, your company’s usual practice applies. 

Possible penalties

As an employer, you are obliged to ensure that your employees take their holiday leave. Failure to meet this obligation can result in both administrative and criminal fines. In practice, this means you must ensure your employees are sufficiently aware of the necessity to take their holiday entitlement in time. If an employee decides not to use their full allowance despite your warnings, you will not risk any penalties. 

It is therefore important to notify your employees of the amount of their remaining leave promptly and in writing. Remind them to place their leave requests for the end of the year in good time. That way, you will have proof of your efforts in the event of an audit.

Checking an employee’s remaining holiday entitlement? Employers who use our Payroll portal can review remaining leave days for all employees under the “Overzicht" (in Dutch) or "Aperçu” (in French) tile (Overviews). To download this overview as an Excel file, go to the “Rapporten" or "Rapports” tile (Reports) and select the document “Jaarlijks verlofoverzicht” or "Aperçu des congés annuels" (Annual leave overview). Employers without access to our Payroll portal can obtain this overview by contacting their payroll adviser or emailing

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Marie-Laure Dekeyzer

Team Manager Payroll

In our opinions, we rely on current legislation, interpretations and legal doctrine. This does not prevent the administration from disputing them or from changing existing interpretations.

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