PhD fellowships

(Special) PhD fellowships

Please mind that your appointment is definite only when the FWO has received the signed agreement, as well as your (if you are a Belgian citizen) identification number of the national register (on the back of Belgian ID). If you have a non-Belgian nationality and already a Belgian ID-card you should also provide us with your national register identification number! Please make sure this national register identification number is registered in the FWO e-portal (personal details section).

If you currently have a non-Belgian domicile address in the EU, then you must add your Tax Identification Number (TIN) in the FWO e-portal. This is a personal number that is provided by the EU country of residence

  • A single completed and signed copy of the agreement which will be sent to you.
  • Your solemn declaration used to determine your seniority.
  • Copy of your diploma if you just graduated.
  • If you are not of Belgian nationality: a copy of your identity card and residence permit.
  • If you are married: an extract from the marriage certificate, with mention of the occupancy of your spouse.
  • If you are legally cohabiting: “proof of receipt of the legal cohabitation declaration” issued by the Civil Registrar in the municipality of residence, with mention of the occupation of your partner.
  • If you have a dependent spouse or legal cohabiting partner: a certificate from your health insurance fund proving that he/she is registered with you.

When you are employed for the first time, you must register yourself with a health insurance fund of your choice.  You must deregister yourself from your parents’ family allowances fund. You are financially dependent of your parent(s) as long as you are domiciled at the same address.  

For the calculation of your wife’s/husband’s or legally cohabiting partner’s salary, you are regarded as dependent, if he/she receives a taxable salary.

The fellowship may be suspended during the period of prolonged sickness leave, pregnancy leave, breastfeeding leave, parental leave, palliative leave or leave for medical assistance. In these cases the fellowship will be extended by the period during which no payments were received.

Extensions of less than two weeks will not be taken into consideration. 

PhD fellowships
If full-time suspensions of consecutive periods of three months occurred, during which the fellowship was not paid out because of prolonged sickness leave, pregnancy and breastfeeding leave, parental leave, and palliative leave, the fellowship will automatically be extended by one year, the extension commencing from the original end date of the fellowship. This administrative extension is granted only once and suspensions during such automatic extension of the fellowship will not give rise to any further extension of the fellowship. Any application for renewal of the fellowship must, in any case, be submitted during the second fellowship year.

The FWO Executive Committee may exceptionally grant an extension of up to five years in cases where social and medical reasons result in reduced capacity to work. 

ICM-FWO fellowship

If full-time suspensions of consecutive periods of three months occurred, during which the fellowship was not paid out because of prolonged sickness leave, pregnancy and breastfeeding leave, parental leave, and palliative leave or leave for medical assistance, the fellowship will automatically be extended by one year, the extension commencing from the original end date of the fellowship. This administrative extension is granted only once and suspensions during such automatic extension of the fellowship will not give rise to any further extension of the fellowship.

The FWO Executive Committee may exceptionally grant an extension of up to four years in cases where social and medical reasons result in reduced capacity to work.  

Special PhD fellowship

Extensions will only be effective if the study leave is extended as well. Special PhD fellowships are not eligible for an administrative extension.

Time credit and voluntary part-time employment will not give rise to any extension of the fellowship.

The FWO must be informed of any change of personal or work-related details.

This can be done by updating your e-portal and uploading the required documents.

The following should be submitted to the FWO, in the event of:

  • marriage: an extract from the marriage certificate, with mention of the occupancy of your spouse;
  • legal cohabitation: “proof of receipt of the legal cohabitation declaration” issued by the Civil Registrar in the municipality of residence, with mention of the occupation of your partner;
  • dissolution of marriage or legal cohabitation: an official document of dissolution;
  • birth of children: copy of the birth certificate.
  • account number: declaration signed by you, the owner of the bank account number

The official last name and first name as they appear on your identity card will be entered into the database. These names will be used for drawing up official documents.

You can terminate your fellowship at any time in consultation with your supervisor and host institution, provided you notify the FWO and the academic authorities thereof in due time (preferably one month before your resignation) in writing.

Your letter of resignation must contain the following information:

  • the date of resignation,
  • your new position,
  • the days of annual leave taken during the current year (to be confirmed with the signature of your supervisor).

You can first send your signed letter of resignation, together with the required information, via email to the FWO. The original letter of resignation must subsequently be forwarded by mail to the FWO.

PhD fellowship

The amount of the grant corresponds with the net salary that you would receive as an assistant at a university in the Flemish Community. The grant takes into account the family situation and is subject to Belgian social security.

Amount of the remuneration: see respective regulations.

Special PhD fellowship

The amount of the grant is identical to the last net salary of the main activity limited to the net salary the beneficiary would receive as assistant at a university in the Flemish Community. The grant takes into account the family situation and is subject to Belgian social security.

The grant is linked to the health index as applicable to the academic staff of the universities in the Flemish Community.

The grant is paid monthly, at the end of the month, into a Belgian financial account.

The grant is not subject to payroll tax pursuant to article 90(2) of the Income Tax Code (see also Com.IB 136/26-136/27-38/37-38/38) and a decision of the Ministry of Finance (letter dated 18 November 1992, Ci RH 241/430.824 by Mr. G.A. De Groote, Inspector General for Direct Taxation), but it is subject to social security pursuant to art. 15, 2° of the Royal Decree of 28 November 1969.

Year-end bonus

The year-end bonus is based on the salary of the current year and on the hours worked during the first nine months of that same year. The year-end bonus is paid out halfway through December.

Holiday allowance

The holiday allowance is based on your salary for the month of May of the current year and the hours worked during the previous year and is paid out together with your salary for the month of May.

Reporting absence

Any absence due to illness, accident, accident at work, accident on the way to or from work, occupational illness, delivery must be reported by phone or email before 10 A.M. to the personnel department (personeelszaken@fwo.be).

Substantiation of absence

Besides reporting one’s absence, each absence as a result of inability to work, even for one day, must be substantiated by an incapacity for work certificate issued by the attending physician. This certificate must be sent to the FWO within 48 hours. This also applies for extensions.

Absence for more than 30 days

If you are absent for more than 30 calendar days, you must inform your health insurance fund not later than on the 28th day of your absence through a ‘confidential’ note, available only from your health insurance fund. You might receive forms from your health insurance fund that will have to be (partially) filled in by the FWO. As of the 31st calendar day, you will no longer receive a salary from the FWO, but you will receive a replacement income from your health insurance fund.

Accident at work

An accident at work is:

An accident resulting in injury while at work.

An accident on the way to or from work. The accident occurred on the normal route from the victim’s residence to work or from work to the victim’s residence.

Forms:

Accident at work report (in pdf): to be filled in by the person involved or by the head of department if the person involved is unable to do so.

Medical certificate (in pdf): to be filled in by the first care provider.

All forms must be sent to the FWO.

Maternity Leave

Paid maternity leave is 15 weeks (105 calendar days) for a single birth, or 17 weeks for a multiple birth. Of these, at least 7 calendar days must be taken before the expected delivery date. In addition, 9 weeks maternity leave must be taken after delivery. 

You must:

Send a medical certificate stating the expected delivery date to the FWO.

If you come in contact with harmful agents, you must contact the occupational health service of the university within three months of your pregnancy.

If the medical exam certificate states that you should avoid certain substances that are harmful for the pregnancy, you must notify the FWO whether you will be performing alternative work until the commencement of your maternity leave.

You must inform your health insurance fund when your maternity leave starts, since you will not be paid by the FWO during your maternity leave. Instead, you will receive a replacement income from your health insurance fund.

Public transport

All FWO staff will be fully reimbursed the cost of their travel card for commuting to and from work by public transport (train – tram – bus – metro).

For staff living abroad, only travel costs up to the border will be reimbursed.

To be considered for reimbursement, the following should be provided as soon as possible to the FWO:

  • Bus travel card: copy of the bus travel card
  • Train card or combined cards: copy of the train card (MOBIB) and copy of the train ticket/proof of the uploaded contract
  • Metro travel card: copy of the metro travel card (MOBIB) and copy of proof of purchase

The FWO does not reimburse any supplements for first-class NMBS/SNCB travel cards.

The reimbursement will be paid into your account together with the next payment of your grant or salary.

Should you leave the organisation before the end of the year, part of the reimbursed amount will be recovered.

If you still have a university travel card when you join the FWO, you must cancel it by sending proof of the university travel card to the university HR department. You will then need to request a new travel card directly from the transport company. 

Bicycle mileage allowance

Every staff member who uses the bicycle for:

  • the entire commute, i.e. commuting by bike from home to work, without using any other means of transport,
  • part of the commute, before or after another means of transport is used,

is entitled to a bicycle mileage allowance.

You use the bicycle for commuting in Belgium on at least 80% of the days effectively worked during the month.

The distance travelled (single trip) is at least one kilometre.

The current bicycle allowance is €0.24 per kilometre to and from.

The bicycle mileage allowance can be requested using the online form available in the e-portal. Any change (cancellation, temporary non-use, change in number of kilometres, etc.) must be reported immediately.

If you are found to have made false statements, the amounts paid will be recovered. In addition, disciplinary sanctions may be imposed. False statements can also lead to criminal prosecution.

Parental leave, medical assistance and palliative leave

More information about taking parental leave, leave for medical assistance or palliative leave is available at the RVA (National Employment Service) website (www.rva.be).

The FWO follows the regulations for the private sector. 

Time credit

Pursuant to the applicable legal provisions, an application for time credit can be submitted no sooner than six months in advance. More information can be found at the RVA website (www.rva.be). 

Holidays

The holiday periods are the same as those laid down in the regulations of the host institution and are determined in consultation with the supervisor. You must inform the FWO of your holiday dates. The holiday pay is based on your salary for the month of May of the current year and the hours worked during the previous year, and is paid together with your salary for the month of May. 

Paternity leave

The paternity leave must be taken within a period of 4 months as of the date of birth. The first 3 days are paid by the FWO. The health service office remunerates the other days:

  • maximum 7 for births before 1 January 2021,
  • maximum 12 for births as from 1 January 2021,
  • maximum 17 for births as from 1 January 2023. 

The father or co-mother must be eligible to receive sickness and disability benefits. If you have only been employed for a few months, you are advised to check with your health insurance fund whether you are eligible to receive paternity leave benefits. When applying for paternity leave, you must specify on which days you want to take paternity leave.

All stays, in Belgium and abroad, must be reported to the FWO using the “Stay Notification” form available in the e-portal under the Download Documents section. 

A stay may be one of the following:

  • Conference/Seminar
  • Summer school
  • Study-related stay
  • Internship (fellowships)

A cumulation request must always be submitted for stays of 3 months or longer, excluding those that are funded by the FWO. This also applies for internships (fellowships), irrespective of the duration of the internship. 

The Cumulation Request form is available in the e-portal under the Download Documents section. 

The cumulation request must be co-signed by the supervisor and rector. For this purpose, you can contact the Research Coordination Office of your university.

Pursuant to article 19 of the FWO regulations for PhD fellowships fundamental research or strategic basic research, PhD fellows may engage in an additional remunerated activity.

It follows from the wording of this article that the additional income generating activity may NOT be linked to or contribute to the completion of the PhD fellowship and that it should not compromise the completion of your PhD fellowship.

The article specifies neither the percentage of your time you can spend on this additional activity nor the frequency or nature of said activity. You can therefore freely determine these conditions. However, the aforementioned provisions must be complied with at all times, irrespective of the nature or type of the additional activity.

In addition, you must ensure that the additional activity does not lose its character, i.e. it must at all times be subordinate or supplementary to your PhD research, which should remain your principal activity. This implies that such additional activities will also have to be pursued outside your normal fellowship activities or in your free time.

Assessment of compliance with these conditions is the responsibility of your supervisor. You can use the cumulation form available on the e-portal to declare the additional activity and then submit it to your supervisor for approval who must then notify you accordingly via the e-portal.

The FWO sets high standards for supervisors of its PhD candidates or postdoctoral researchers. These requirements are explicitly described in the profile of the good supervisor and state, among other things, that the supervisor must create and maintain a safe environment that is indispensable for the proper functioning of the doctoral student, the postdoctoral researcher and / or other researchers associated with his FWO research project. Attention to psychosocial well-being is an important part of this safe environment.

Phd fellows or postdoctoral researchers can raise psychosocial problems with their supervisors. All Flemish host institutions also have a network of ombudsman services and confidential advisers to whom FWO researchers can turn to with psychosocial problems that they cannot discuss with their supervisor. When an PhD fellow or postdoctoral researcher has used all facilities in their own host institution to find a solution to a psychosocial problem, in particular in the event of conflicts between the researcher and the supervisor, the FWO can, as a last resort, attempt to mediate. In such a case, contact hr@fwo.be.