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Paternity leave: Petition for 15 weeks in Belgium

Two weeks to become a parent is little, too little. In Belgium, fathers are entitled to 2 weeks of leave following the birth of a child and mothers to a maximum of 15 weeks. A huge difference which often affects the well-being of the relationship between father or co-mother and the child. It also hinders the necessary rest of the mother and causes inequalities in the long term when it comes to equally sharing the care within the couple.

With a petition (FR, NL), COFACE Member Ligues des Familles requests that the paternity and co-parental leave be increased to 15 weeks. On 2 July 2020, the law on paternity leave celebrated its 18th anniversary in Belgium. For eighteen years fathers can take 10 days voluntarily after the birth of their child. For the Belgian family organisation these 10 days are far from enough, it’s even ridiculously short. And yet, for the past eighteen years, nothing has changed.

That’s why Ligue des Familles, supported by COFACE Families Europe and other NGOs, advocate to extend paternity leave to 15 weeks, the equivalent of the mother’s leave.

Why?

  • So that every father/co-mother has the opportunity to enjoy family life for a much more reasonable period of time.
  • So that the father/co-mother can be by the mother’s side and allow her to recover from pregnancy and childbirth. Young mothers know that it is impossible to rest when looking after a baby alone all day long.
  • To encourage a more balanced division of tasks and care between the parents from the very first days of the baby’s life. It’s easier to develop good habits right away rather than correcting those that are established after three months of single-parent daytime care.
  • To reduce inequalities in the labour market between men and women, since both would then likely be absent from work for 15 weeks upon the birth of a child.

In order for the political world to become aware that parenthood has and must evolve, Ligues des Familles asks to spread the word of the petition and gather as many signatures as possible. The Belgian Parliament is currently discussing to extend paternity leave, but specific laws have not yet been passed. Each signature represents an additional weight to make things happen.

In the past and very recently, Ligue des Familles has proven that it can bring about great changes for parents through citizen mobilisation. So if you are registered in Belgium, please sign this petition (FR, NL) and share it on social networks so that together we can win this fight!

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