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← Overview Database of Innovative Social Policies in Europe

Time credit leave

Country of implementation
General short description of the innovation
Time-credit schemes allow employees in the private sector to reduce their working time completely or part-time (by 1/2 or 1/5). During this period they receive a part of their wage from their employer, complemented with state allowances from the National Employment Office (RVA). An employee?s entitlement to allowances depends on whether or not the employee is on a ?non-motivated? or ?motivated? time credit leave. Payment varies according to age, civil status and years of employment. / / In a ?non-motivated? time credit scheme, allowances are limited to a maximum of one year for those taking a complete break from work, 2 years for a 50% suspension and 5 years for a 20% suspension. Non-motivated time credit is mainly used for reasons such as taking long holidays, life reorientation or just for leisure or rest. All eligible workers have the basic right to one paid year of this type of leave. To be eligible, applicants must have already worked for more than 5 years, of which at least 2 years in the company concerned. In the case of non-motivated time credit, only a period of 1 year FTE is taken into account as an equivalent period (in the calculation of pension rights). / / In the case of ?motivated? time credit leave (parental leave, care for family member, palliative care, training), employees are entitled to allowances during a period of 36 or 48 months. In this case, there is an exemption to the 5 year career requirement. Employees still need 2 years seniority with the employers. In the case of motivated time credit, the period is fully taken into account as an equivalent period. / / Notes / - A special form of time credit (landingsbanen) was introduced for older workers (50+) which gives them the opportunity to reduce their working time by 1/2 or 1/5 until they are of pension age. / - During the crisis, a ?crisis time credit? scheme was introduced which aimed at an individual and temporary reduction in work commitments for a fixed period. / - A similar scheme (?career breaks?) exists for civil servants in the public sector /
Target group
Total Population
Policy Field
  • wage
Type of Policy
  • public
Duration of the policy
The current time credit scheme was introduced in Belgium in 2002. A reformed regime came into force as from September 1st 2012.
Scope of innovation
  • Scope: structural
  • Budgets: Year Budget spent each year /2010 416,7 *2011 434,2 *2012 444,1 *2013 432,1 /Source:
  • Spatial coverage: national
General description of (intended) objectives and strategies
The time credit system aims to increase flexibility to reconcile work and private life (care responsibilities, etc.) by enabling workers to leave the labour market for a while or reduce their working time. / /
Type of ideal-typical strategy for the innovation
  • encompassing security
Type of innovation
  • new policy, practice or measure
  • retrenchment or expansion of an existing/earlier policy
New outputs
  • working time
Intended target group
Personnel in the private sector
Working age population
  • care responsibilities (care for children [0-16/16+], for elderly or other family members)
  • main source of income: paid work
Actors involved in policy-making/implementation and/or evaluation
  • beneficiaries/users
  • central state
  • employers (organised or individual)
Intended output
  • working time
Did the innovation have any outcome related to job quantity?
In 2009, users of time credit represented 2.5% of the workforce: 3.4% of women in workforce and 1.8% of men in workforce3.labour supply: ambiguous effect on total hours worked, the volume of work of the working population overall
Intended and unintended outcomes
outcome quantification (proportion of target group): / / Year Beneficiaries Time Credit (full-time) Beneficiaries Time Credit (part-time) / 2010 8.397 123.922 / 2011 7.794 127.992 / 2012 6.867 129.525 / 2013 6.018 126.710 / Source: / / The time credit leave scheme has been successful in the last decade in terms of take up. Time credit users increased from 23.165 persons in 2002 to 132.728 in 2013. This success was not intended from the beginning of the new scheme. / /
Clarification of outcomes in terms of impacting resilience and labour market inclusion
Although the measure has been very successful in take up overall, the time credit system has came under debate as being too generous, too much of a burden on the public budget and because of its potential abuse of the system. / / It is assumed time-credit scheme have been used to disguise redundancies or as a bridge to early retirement, combined with other schemes. To implement savings and prevent abuse, the government introduced stricter conditions in 2012. Reforms focused mainly on the non-motivated time credit and were related to the maximum period of full time leave of one year, age conditions for end-of career time credit and equivalent periods in building up pension rights. / /
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