On 31 December 2014, two royal decrees were published in the Belgian State Gazette, introducing significant changes to the Belgian legislation on early retirement (stelsel van werkloosheid met bedrijfstoeslag/régime de chômage avec complément d'entreprise) and career interruption (tijdskrediet/crédit-temps).
The first royal decree tightens the requirements for early retirement. The decree stipulates that the age threshold for early retirement will be raised from 60 to 62, effective 1 January 2015. However employees whose notice period started to run before 1 January 2015 and who will turn 60 before 31 December 2016, at the end of their employment contract, will still be able to take early retirement at 60 years of age. In addition, a lower age threshold will apply to certain categories of employees, for example those who have worked nights for 20 years over the course of their career.
The second royal decree abolishes allowances for certain types of career interruption or tijdskrediet/crédit-temps. This is a system which allows a salaried employee to temporarily interrupt his or her professional career, in full or in part; it can take the form of a suspension of the employment contract or a reduction in working time. While on tijdskrediet/crédit-temps, the employee receives an allowance from the National Employment Office. The purpose of the system is to give employees more free time to meet family and societal obligations or for personal projects. It should be noted that tijdskrediet/crédit-temps can be granted for a statutorily recognised reason (to care for a young child, to pursue additional education, etc.) or without a specific reason. In the latter case, as from 1 January 2015, allowances will no longer be paid by the National Employment Office. This type of tijdskrediet/crédit-temps will not disappear, however, and employees will still be able to benefit from it, but it will become less attractive as employees will not receive any income while on leave. Furthermore, for older employees, the decree raises the age threshold for a career-end workload reduction from 55 to 60. Again, certain categories of employees (e.g., those who worked nights for 20 years over the course of their career, etc.) will still be able to benefit from a reduced workload before the age of 60.
The new royal decrees introduce other, less significant, changes to the Belgian legislation on early retirement and career interruption.