Whether you are celebrating a national holiday, coordinating a work trip, or planning ahead for your next family vacation, it’s always good to have a list of public holidays to hand.

Scroll on to find a complete list of Belgium’s public holidays 2023, as well as a recap of the rules surrounding ‘substitute days’ in Belgium – including requirements for both employees and employers.

Belgium Public Holidays 2023

New Year’s Day - Sunday 1 January 2023

Easter Monday - Monday 10 April 2023

Labour Day/May Day - Monday 1 May 2023

Ascension Day - Thursday 18 May 2023

Whit Monday - Monday 29 May 2023

Belgian National Day - Friday 21 July 2023

Assumption Day - Tuesday 15 August 2023

All Saints’ Day - Wednesday 1 November 2023

Armistice Day - Saturday 11 November 2023

Christmas Day - Monday 25 December 2023

Substitute Days

In accordance with Belgian law, if a public holiday falls on a non-working day (i.e. Saturday or Sunday), it must be replaced by a ‘replacement’ or ‘substitute’ day which falls on a normal working day (Monday to Friday). 

As many businesses in Belgium close on public holidays, most employees are not able to work on these days. However, the employer is obligated to pay employees their normal salary for that holiday, including any bonuses or benefits they would have received if they had worked that day. 

In 2023, two public holidays will fall on a non-working day, New Year’s Day (Sunday 1st January) and Armistice Day (Saturday 11th November). For this reason, Belgian employees are entitled to two substitute days.

Officially, the specific dates of these substitute days are decided by the Joint Industrial Committee responsible for each sector (companies can confirm which joint committee is responsible for their sector by contacting the Belgian Labour Inspectorate). This doesn’t often happen in practice, so in most cases the decision falls to each individual company.

Companies in Belgium can make that decision in one of the following four ways:

  1. Through a Works Council (an external body which represents the collective interest of employees)
  2. Through an agreement between the union representatives and the employer
  3. Through agreement between all company employees and the employer
  4. If no agreement can be reached for the whole company, individual agreements may be created between the employer and each individual employee

If a company cannot decide on substitute days using one of the methods stated above, the replacement day will automatically fall on the next working day following the public holiday (normally a Monday).

Compensatory Rest

In the case that employees are required to work on a public holiday or substitute day, they are required to a period of compensatory rest. This period of rest is equal to one full day if they have worked more than four hours, or half a day if they have worked less than four hours. 

This compensatory rest must fall on a typical working day for the employee and be granted no more than six weeks following the public holiday or replacement day. 

Interested in doing business in Belgium? Find out everything you need to know about payroll, tax, social security, employee benefits, work permits, employment law and more in activpayroll’s Guide to Doing Business in Belgium

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