Family responsibilities


Balancing work and family responsibilities is not always easy. The law provides for accommodations for employees who have family responsibilities. Whether it's overtime, a sick child, or discrimination in hiring, employers have special duties towards these employees.

Job interview

Sick children, reduced flexibility in working hours, pregnancy and maternity leave: these fears still cause employers to refuse to hire employees with family responsibilities. Such behavior constitutes, in most cases, discrimination in hiring, sanctioned by the Law on Equality between Women and Men. The rejected candidate may, under certain conditions, claim compensation from the employer.

When faced with illegal questions from the employer about his or her family situation, the employee is entitled to lie. However, if the questions are related to the job, the employee must answer truthfully.


When work accumulates, the employer is likely to ask his or her employees to work overtime. In principle, the employee is required to work overtime when circumstances require it.

The employer may only require such overtime to the extent that the employee can handle it and that the rules of good faith permit it. The employer must be more considerate of employees who have family responsibilities.


When a child is sick, schools, daycare centers and nurseries often refuse to care for the child, to avoid contamination of other children. Parents quickly find themselves without childcare. Employers must, under certain conditions, grant paid leave to their employees so that they can keep their sick children.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, schools and daycare centers were closed by order of the authorities to limit the spread of the virus. Many parents have been left without childcare because grandparents are at risk and cannot be in contact with their grandchildren. Employees who have to look after their children in this situation will, for the most part, be entitled to daily allowances.

Sick or injured relative

Sometimes a child becomes seriously ill or has a serious accident. In such situations, they often need their parents by their side. As of July 1, 2021, the employee will be entitled to a leave of absence paid by the loss-of-earnings insurance to take care of his or her seriously ill minor child. This leave must be divided between the two parents.

When an employee has to take care of a close relative, such as a spouse, partner or parent, who is ill or who has suffered an accident, the employer must grant him or her paid leave, limited in time.

Equal pay

An employer pays a female employee a lower salary because he is afraid that she will become pregnant or be absent more than her male colleagues to look after her sick children. This is wage discrimination. The employee may, under certain conditions, request payment of the difference in salary.

Wrongful termination

A dismissal for a reason inherent to the employee's personality, such as his or her family situation, or because he or she is asserting claims arising from the employment contract in good faith, constitutes a wrongful termination.

A termination that occurs just after maternity leave or because the employee refused to work overtime because of family responsibilities is sensitive. 

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