In the upcoming 2 months, we will have no less than 3 public holidays. Can an employee work on such a public holiday? What about the remuneration? Is there a difference between full-time and part-time employees? Are part-time employees entitled to these holidays, even when they normally do not have to work on this day? Let’s take a look at the applicable rules on working on a public Belgian holiday. 

Can an employee work on a public holiday?

In principle, employees may not be employed on the 10 public holidays, regardless of the nature of their job, their seniority and the duration of their work. Holidays are considered as mandatory rest days for employees. However there are certain exceptions according to the sector. When an employee can normally be employed on a Sunday (e.g. a fair, shopping Sunday, etc.) it is also possible to let the employee work on a public holiday. The concerned employee has then a right to compensatory rest.

If work on a public holiday lasted longer than 4 hours, the compensatory rest comprises a full day, if the work did not last longer than 4 hours, the compensatory rest comprises half a day. A part-time employee is entitled to compensatory rest with a duration equal to the actual working hours worked on that public holiday.

How much does the employee get paid for working on a public holiday?

The employee who works on a public holiday is entitled to the normal remuneration of a normal working day. This also includes all bonuses and benefits in kind. The mere fact that you are working on a public holiday does not entail an automatic right to a supplement (unless this would be agreed in a (collective bargaining) agreement). A supplement for overtime of 100% can of course be due when the employee has crossed the daily or weekly limit of working hours.

What if the employee does not work on a public holiday?

The employee is always entitled to normal remuneration for each public holiday, even if he or she does not work on that day. However, the employee is not entitled to any remuneration if he has been absent without justification from the normal working day prior to or following the public holiday.

Is a part-time employee also entitled to 10 public holidays?

If a part-time employee has the same work arrangement as a full-time employee, but with limited hours per day, he/she is entitled to the same number of paid public holidays as a full-time employee.

If part-time employees have a fixed timetable, they are entitled to the public holidays that coincide with their usual activity days. In this case, they are entitled to the remuneration for the number of hours that they would have performed according to their timetable.

Part-time employees with a variable timetable are entitled to all public holidays. The way of calculating the remuneration differs depending on whether it is a day of normal activity or inactivity. Key to the story is that it is far more convenient to schedule full-time rather than part-time employees on a public holiday.