PolicyFlemish deputies who are absent from more than five public assemblies in a row with votes or who are unjustifiably absent from more than seven public assemblies with their votes in one year are financially punished. They risk deducting the full fixed expense allowance. This came in an amendment to the Statute of Flemish Representatives approved in the Flemish Parliament on Wednesday.
The arrangement stems from a previous discussion about the long-term absence of former Open Vld deputy, Siham Al Kawakibi. She has been under fire for more than a year for an ongoing criminal investigation into possible subsidy manipulation within her Let’s Go Urban dance project and other nonprofit organizations. Since then, Kawakibi has been on sick leave. The fact that she continued to receive full parliamentary compensation sparked criticism and indignation.
Intervention of the Flemish Parliament. For example, the extended office of Parliament already decided in September 2021 to include in the statutes of the Flemish Member of Parliament the following: Long-term incapacity scheme to include . Members of Parliament who are absent for more than a month due to illness forfeit their entitlement to the flat rate allowance from the 31st day of absence and thus return to around 60 per cent of their wages, i.e. around €3,500 net. This proposal was approved by the plenary at the end of September 2021 and has been in effect ever since.
Since that intervention, a special working group has been working on a “coordinated absenteeism scheme” for all forms of prolonged or frequent absences. Concretely, it was agreed to look at the same standard in all absenteeisms, in particular non-participation in the public announced votes.
MEPs who miss more than five consecutive plenary sessions will be penalized with votes (legal or illegal). Members of Parliament who are frequently absent without reason – the arrangement includes more than seven plenary sessions with voting over a period of one year – will also be punished. Henceforth, the financial consequences will also be the same, more specifically a deduction of the full flat rate expense allowance.
Moreover, Parliament decided to add maternity leave (paternity leave) to the list of lawful absences. Maternity leave is granted for a full four weeks. The representatives of the people must take a vacation each week in plenary session, but those four weeks do not have to be consecutive. It should be taken within four months of giving birth.
See also: Sick MPs already get up to 40 percent less income after a month
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