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Skipping MPs receive financial punishment | Inland

PoliticsFlemish MPs who miss more than five consecutive plenary assemblies with votes or who are unjustifiably absent for more than seven plenary assemblies with votes in one year will be financially punished. They risk the full deduction of their flat-rate expense allowance. This is stated in an amendment to the statute of the Flemish representatives that was approved in the Flemish Parliament on Wednesday.

The arrangement stems from the earlier discussion about the long-term absence of former Open Vld MP Sihame El Kaouakibi. She has been under fire for more than a year because of the ongoing criminal investigation into possible tampering with subsidies within her dance project Let’s Go Urban and other non-profit organizations. Since then, El Kaouakibi has been on sick leave. The fact that she continued to be entitled to her full parliamentary compensation provoked criticism and indignation.

The Flemish Parliament intervened. For example, the Extended Bureau of the parliament already decided in September 2021 to include in the statute of the Flemish Member of Parliament a scheme for long-term incapacity for work to include. Members of parliament who are absent for more than a month due to illness lose their entitlement to the flat-rate allowance from the 31st day of absence and thus fall back to about 60 percent of their wages, which is about EUR 3,500 net. That proposal was approved by the plenary at the end of September 2021 and has been in effect ever since.

Plenary votes

Since that intervention, a special working group has been working on a broader “harmonised absenteeism scheme” for all forms of long-term or frequent absence. In concrete terms, it has been agreed to look at the same criterion in all forms of absence, in particular non-participation in the announced plenary votes.

MEPs who miss more than five consecutive plenary sessions with votes (legitimate or illegal) will be penalized. Members of parliament who are frequently absent without reason – the arrangement involves more than seven plenary sessions with votes over a period of one year – will also be sanctioned. From now on, the financial consequences will also be the same, more specifically the deduction of the full flat-rate expense allowance.

Birth leave

Furthermore, the parliament has also decided to add birth leave (paternity leave) to the list of legitimate absences. Birth leave is granted for four plenary weeks. The representatives of the people must take the leave per plenary session week, but those four weeks do not have to be consecutive. It must be taken within four months of birth.

Also see: Sick MPs already receive up to 40 percent less income after a month

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