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Time credit more popular than ever in Belgium
Last year, nearly 9,000 additional people opted for time credit, one type of leave provided by the Belgian social security system for employees in the private sector. It is the strongest increase since 2009, and brings the total number of Belgian employees using time credit up to more than 143,000, according to figures from the benefits authority RVA. "Clearly the stricter conditions around time credit haven't deterred anyone," said Christine Mattheeuws, president of the NSZ union which represents the interests of independents in Belgium, in De Standaard.
In 2015, 143,387 employees in Belgium made use of time credit, an increase of 6.5% compared to the previous year, and the highest number ever. Stricter regulations from September, 2012, initially led to a decrease in the number of time credit beneficiaries in 2013 and 2014, but this was followed by a subsequent sharp increase.
Time credit gives employees in the private sector the option of putting their career on hold for a total of one year, full or part time, and not necessarily all at once. Employees can apply for time credit with motivation, such as to take care of a sick relative or young child, for example, or without motivation, such as to travel or seek out other interests.