The new school calendar, which comes into force in Brussels and Wallonia at the start of the school on Monday, is set to significantly complicate giving holiday time to employees by French-speaking Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Around a third of Walloon SMEs and just under a quarter of those in Brussels say that the new school year will complicate taking holidays, according to a survey of employers conducted by Belgian HR company SD Worx on 22 August.
From now on, the school year in French-speaking areas of Belgium will take place across six to eight weeks of lessons, with half-term holidays being increased to two weeks. As a result, the summer holidays for French-speaking students will now only last six weeks, rather than eight.
“This reform aims for a better balance between children's work and rest periods but it risks making it more difficult for parents to take vacations within their company,” SD Worx warns.
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In total, 30% of Walloon companies and 25% in Brussels believe that the changes will make it more difficult for employees to take holidays. Only 4% think that the decision will have a positive effect on taking holidays. By contrast, in Flanders only 4.4% of companies worry about being able to take holidays.
Companies whose employees have children in French-speaking schools now foresee a surge in demand for absences within a shorter six-week time period. In addition, the increased length of half terms will see more holiday requests outside the main school holidays.
“We will therefore also have to change our habits, the pupils will be on leave more regularly and for longer periods, such as in February for example, when they will now have two weeks instead of one. Parents will probably have to adapt by taking holidays more regularly throughout the year but for shorter periods in summer,” the HR company stated.