Training and continuing professional development are increasingly essential for many employees and the self-employed to keep pace with the changing world of work or simply to develop skills and maintain employability. What’s more, changing career is more commonplace nowadays and it’s not that unusual for an accountant to switch tack and train to be a carpenter, for example.
While the Luxembourg system offers in-house training opportunities for staff, especially in large companies, individuals and the self-employed are also entitled to develop their skills through training, which does not have to be directly related to their job. To help people further themselves, training leave is available to facilitate attending courses or taking examinations.
What is training leave?
The Ministry of Education, Children and Youth (MENJE) defines training leave as “special leave for employees, the self-employed or independent professionals to take courses, prepare for examinations, write theses or undertake any other activity in relation to eligible training.”
Some courses are offered in the evening, but sometimes employees may have no choice but to take leave to attend those courses held during the day. When training leave is granted, it frees up additional time to take advantage of the training – and still get paid.
Who’s eligible and how?
Let’s take Olivia, communications manager in a transport company for the past eight years, as an example. Olivia is 31 and wants to train for a new career as an estate agent.
To be eligible for paid training leave, she must meet a number of criteria:
- Does she work in a company or organisation based in Luxembourg? Yes, Olivia has an employment contract with a company established in the Grand Duchy.
- Has she worked at this company for at least six months on the date of the leave application? Yes, she has at least six months’ service.
- To be eligible as self-employed or as an independent professional, Olivia would have to have worked in the Grand Duchy and been registered with social security (CCSS) for at least two years.
- Is her chosen training course eligible? According to the Ministry of Education, the training provider can be in Luxembourg or abroad, but training must be delivered by:
- institutions accredited as public or private colleges, that issue certificates recognised by the public authorities
- professional chambers
- local authorities
- private foundations, natural persons or associations that are accredited by the Minister for Education, Children and Youth
- government ministries, departments or state bodies.
Olivia meets the criteria. The courses she found on the lifelong-learning.lu portal, managed by the INFPC (national institute for the development of continuing vocational training), are offered by House of Training, an organisation accredited by the Ministry of Education to provide continuing education courses.
The minimum training leave is one day: to be eligible the course must offer at least 24 hours of training.
How many days’ leave can be taken?
Under the Luxembourg Labour Code, an employee, a self-employed person or an independent professional is entitled to a total of 80 days in the course of their career, limited to 20 days in any two-year period.
The Ministry of Education decides how many days of training leave to grant, depending on the number of certified hours in the course.
In our example, Olivia’s course lasts 53 hours. These hours are converted to work days, divided by 3 and rounded down to the nearest whole number if necessary.
53 training hours/8 hours a day = 6.625 days of training.
6.625/3 = 2.21 days, or 2 training leave days by rounding down.
Olivia is entitled to two days’ training leave paid by the state – which is worthwhile when you consider that she only gets 26 days of paid holiday a year.
- If Olivia worked part-time, her training leave eligibility would be calculated in proportion to the hours she works.
Remember: the minimum training leave is one day: to be eligible the course must offer at least 24 hours of training.
Her employer can be reimbursed for what they pay Olivia during the training leave, as well as for the employer’s share of social security contributions.
How does the scheme benefit employers?
Olivia will first have to discuss her training plans with her employer, who must then state whether they are in favour of the leave being granted or not.
Throughout the training leave (two days, in this case, if the application is granted), Olivia will be paid an allowance by her employer. In practice, this means that the employer continues to pay her average daily salary (capped at 4 times the minimum wage for unskilled workers*), just as though she had simply taken a normal day’s annual leave.
But, there’s an advantage for Olivia’s boss: they can apply to the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth for reimbursement of the allowance and a portion of the social security contributions.
- If Olivia were self-employed (or an independent professional), MENJE specifies that this allowance would be calculated on the basis of the income used to calculate her retirement insurance for the last financial year for which contributions were due. The allowance in this case would be paid by the state (again capped at 4 times the minimum wage for unskilled workers).
Training leave can be postponed once, if there’s a risk of disruption to the company when Olivia is absent, and if the employer is not in favour of granting it. Olivia can still send her application to the Ministry (with the employer’s opinion against granting it). Her request will be put to a consultative committee for a decision on how long it can be postponed for.
Training leave applications must be submitted at least two months before the start of the period of leave requested.
How do you apply for training leave?
Olivia can send in her official training leave application to the Department of Vocational Training in the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth.
The application process is as follows:
- Fill in the application for training leave
- Ask the employer to fill in their part of the form stating whether they are in favour or not
- Provide the documentation required:
- course registration certificate(s) stating the training period and the number of hours (examinations, courses, etc.)
- social security registration certificate
- a copy of the employment contract (for individuals submitting the form in German or in English)
- Send the form and supporting documents to the MENJE:
Ministère de l’Éducation nationale, de l’Enfance et de la Jeunesse
Service de la formation professionnelle/congé-formation
29, rue Aldringen
Remember: you must submit your application at least two months before the start of your requested leave period.
Where can you find out more about training leave in Luxembourg?
The Ministry of Education, Children and Youth (MENJE) provides a lot of information on training leave on its website men.lu, as does Guichet.lu. You can also contact the ministry’s Department of Vocational Training directly.
* The minimum wage for unskilled workers is €2,201.93 (as at 1 January 2021).