The influence of career breaks on group insurance

This summer, the government extended several existing forms of thematic leave by Royal Decree. For example, there are now new options for parental leave, medical assistance and palliative leave that mainly extend the flexible uptake of these leave entitlements.

According to recent figures from the Belgian National Employment Office, these new forms of thematic leave are gaining momentum and can basically be reduced to ‘part-time work’. Although limited in practice, we wish to pay special attention to periods of time credit or career breaks from full-time work. The employee is still on the employer’s payroll, but does not work during these periods, and thus no longer receives salary. But what should then happen to supplementary insurances?

A one-year career break to travel around the world obviously differs from palliative leave for one month to support your mother at the end of her life.

First, it is necessary to examine the legal options that allow the maintenance of risk cover during certain career-break periods. Second, your wishes have to be assessed against the options to then define the final conditions for continuity of cover in the policies, so as to guarantee the equal treatment of your staff members and avoid any discrimination. Also consider the part-time career breakers usually only insured according to their work regime.

We further recommend that you check the general conditions of your policies relating to career breaks. Usually cover is immediately suspended when premium payments are temporarily halted, but cover is maintained for a period in some policies. For example, income guaranteed under certain policies is maintained during a career break if the staff member is entitled to a career-break benefit, but the benefits only start at the end of the requested time-credit period when the staff member would normally return to work.

In concrete terms, hospitalisation insurance can be extended for up to one year of absence or death premiums can continue to be paid for up to three months. Even so, to avoid unpleasant surprises, this should always be agreed with the insurer and formally recorded in the policy.

As an employer, it is thus important to consider the continuity of the policies offered in increasingly frequent career-break periods. Once it is clear in which cases and for which periods you wish to keep the cover, and your policies have been adjusted accordingly, you can adequately inform your staff about the consequences of their career break. If necessary and desired, they can then find their own individual insurance to compensate for losing certain cover.