The Flemish Christian Democratic Party, CD&V, wants longer paternity leave for the fathers or co-parents of premature or seriously ill newborns.
CD&V parliamentarian Nahima Lanjri, who sits in the federal majority, said on Wednesday that she had tabled a bill to this effect.
“Newborns admitted to neonatology often have to stay longer in hospital. This longer hospitalisation complicates the lives of parents and upsets the balance between their daily life and the care of their hospitalised children,” the parliamentarian argued.
Mothers already benefit from longer maternity leave when their children have to be hospitalised. The CD&V legislator wants this favour to be also granted to fathers or co-parents when the hospitalisation of their child exceeds seven days.
In such cases, paternity leave, which is currently 15 days and should increase to 20 days from 2023, would be extended by the same number of days as the hospitalisation of the infant, up to a maximum of 24 weeks.
Some 120,000 children are born on average in Belgium each year. About 12% are admitted to neonatology, and 4% percent to a neonatal intensive care unit. Most of them are premature babies, ie children born after a pregnancy of under 37 weeks.
Such babies represented 8% of births in 2020.