Foster-parent leave is now considered equivalent to time worked when calculating pension benefits, the minister in charge of pensions, Karine Lalieux, announced on Sunday.
The measure is retroactive to January 2019, the date on which foster-parent leave was created.
“The altruism of foster parents needs to be highlighted, not punished,” Mrs. Lalieux (PS) said. People who commit to providing a warm home for young, vulnerable and handicapped children “cannot be penalised at pension time because they took leave to which they had a right,” she is quoted as saying in a press release.
Equivalence with time worked was already guaranteed for maternity leave, paternity leave and adoption leave, but not for foster-parent leave, which can be taken by any worker designated as host parent when a minor is placed on a long-term basis in a foster family.
The leave can be taken in one go, for an uninterrupted period of up to six weeks per parent, with a two-week bonus to be shared between two host parents in a single family.
In 2019, a total of 1,166 children were taken in by families in Belgium, but only 169 people took foster-parent leave.