Leave without pay for training purposes is special leave aimed at private sector employees allowing them to temporarily suspend their professional obligations to take part in a fixed period of professional training at their own costs.
To receive leave without pay for training purposes, employees must have worked for their employer for at least 2 years when they apply for the leave.
Age and place of residence do not affect the right to leave without pay.
The cumulative period of leave without pay is set at 2 years maximum per employer:
- the minimum duration of leave is 4 consecutive weeks;
- the maximum duration of leave is 6 consecutive months.
The duration of leave is always given in whole weeks or months and must be proportional to the training in question.
How to apply for leave without pay for training purposes
The application must be submitted to the employer by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt, or by letter delivered in person with acknowledgement of receipt.
When applying for leave without pay, the notice or the notification period to be respected by the applicant is:
- 2 months for leave of less than 3 months;
- 4 months for leave of 3 months or more.
The application must include the following information:
- type of training course;
- duration of the training course;
- training institution;
- the period(s) of leave requested;
- a note stating that if the employer fails to reply within 30 days, the application is automatically deemed to have been accepted.
The employer must reply within 30 days, in writing with acknowledgement of receipt. If the employer fails to reply, the first period of requested leave (in the event of several periods) is automatically deemed to have been accepted.
The application for leave without pay may either be:
- accepted by the employer. At the employer's request, the employee must produce a certificate of attendance for the training course for which the leave without pay has been granted;
- refused by the employer if the applicant is a senior manager or if the business regularly employs less than 15 employees;
- deferred by the employer for no more than:
- 1 year, if the period of leave requested is less than or equal to 3 months;
- 2 years, if the period of leave requested exceeds 3 months.
Leave without pay can only be deferred if:
- a significant number of employees in the same department are absent for an extended period of time during the requested period of leave, which absence would result in the organisation of work being seriously disrupted;
- the applicant cannot be replaced during the notice/notification period due to the specific nature of their work, or a shortage of workers in the field/profession in question;
- the work is seasonal and the period of leave being applied for falls within this period of seasonal work.
In the event of several requests for leave without pay from the same department or business, and where these requests cannot all be granted simultaneously for obvious operational reasons, priority will be given on the basis of length of service (if the employees in question have failed to reach an agreement).
Training courses for which leave without pay may be granted
Leave without pay for training purposes may be granted for training courses:
- provided by institutions in Luxembourg and abroad which 1) are classified as public or private educational establishments (secondary schools, universities, higher education establishments), 2) are recognised by the public authorities, and 3) issue diplomas recognised by said authorities;
- provided, both in Luxembourg and abroad, by the professional chambers, communes, foundations, natural persons and private associations approved by the Minister responsible for Vocational training, ministries, government administration departments and public sector establishments;
- provided in Luxembourg by the establishments referred to in Article 47 of the Act of 4 September 1990 reforming secondary technical education and on-going vocational training, and the completion of which training is attested to by the delivery of a diploma or an attendance certificate.
Interruption of leave without pay for training purposes
As soon as the employer has accepted the application for leave without pay for training purposes, the agreement is irrevocable for both the employee and the employer.
However, in the event of force majeure, the employer may withdraw their approval, or the employee their application, under certain conditions:
- during the period of leave originally agreed to, the employee may return to their job only if they have not already been replaced by an employee on a fixed-term contract;
- if approval is withdrawn by the employer: the latter must compensate the employee for any paid and non-recoverable fees they may have incurred for their training;
- after the period of leave has begun, the employee may only end the leave without pay with their employer' consent.
Illness during the leave
Falling ill during leave without pay does not give the employee the right to defer the remaining authorised period of leave.
If the duration of the illness is more than 25 % of the duration of the leave or if a force majeure event occurs such that the employee is unable to attend (fully or partially) the requested training course, they may request to terminate their leave. The employer would then accede to the employee's request unless they are unable to reinstate the employee before the end of the requested period of leave due to overriding organisational reasons.
Effects of leave without pay for training purposes on the employee's employment contract
During leave without pay for training purposes the employment contract is suspended (temporary interruption of the conditions of the employment contract) but not terminated. The employer is obliged to keep the employee's position open. On their return, the employee will recover their entitlement to all of the advantages they had acquired before their leave, or a similar job corresponding to their qualifications and with a salary at least equivalent to their previous one. The length of service accrued before the start of the leave is unaffected, unless otherwise provided for by statutory or contractual provisions.
The employer must inform the employee that they must personally register on a voluntary basis for health and pension insurance for the period of leave without pay.