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#Corona #Unemployment Benefit #Temporary Unemployment

Can I invoke temporary unemployment for my employees due to economic circumstances?

Thursday 19/03/2020
Tijdelijke werkloosheid bedienden

Yes, you can. The Employment Contracts Act includes the possibility to temporarily suspend the employment contract also for white-collar workers due to exceptional economic circumstances (lack of work).

There are three possibilities:

  1. Your company belongs to one of the following joint industrial committees (PC 209, PC 214, PC 211, PC 222, PC 315.01, PC 315.02, PC 324, PC 327). These joint industrial committees have formulated a regulation in CLAs for this exceptional situation that you have to apply.
  2. Your company has worked out an existing scheme independently that you apply.
  3. Your company has never before invoked economic unemployment for white-collar workers. In such cases you will have to submit a business plan to the FPS Employment to facilitate temporary unemployment.

Which procedure should you follow?

On 18 March 2020, the National Labour Council concluded a new Collective Labour Agreement no. 147 to facilitate the introduction of economic unemployment for white-collar workers within the framework of the Corona. As such, the previously known rules will continue to apply, but the decision will follow more quickly.

This interprofessional collective agreement forms the most flexible legal basis for submitting a file for recognition as a company in difficulty for the application of economic unemployment for white-collar workers.

In concrete terms, this means:

  • If the company already has a 10% drop in production turnover or orders in the quarter preceding the application compared to the same quarter of one of the two previous years => it can apply directly to the NEO
  • If the company cannot yet prove this 10% decrease, but its activities are affected by the Corona crisis, the company can apply to the Federal Minister of Labour for specific recognition as a company in difficulty.
  • This recognition should preferably be requested by sending the form and its attachments by e-mail to ewb@werk.belgie. It is necessary for the employer to convert the application and the appendices into a single pdf document and to digitally sign this pdf document with your e-ID. If you have not received an acknowledgement of receipt by e-mail within five days, please send a new e-mail to verify receipt by our service.

In the week of 23 March, the FPS Employment will install a digital mailbox on their website so that this request can be sent via a specific application.

Which entity?

Your company may be considered as a legal entity, technical business unit (TBE) or place of business.

Who should you notify?

  • The employees you intend to make redundant, by posting the fact or by notifying the employee 7 calendar days in advance.
  • The works council or trade union delegation, if applicable.
  • The RVA, in digital format, at least 7 calendar days before the first anticipated day of unemployment. The economic reason should refer to 'suspension of white-collar workers' and the remarks section should indicate 'Coronavirus'.

What kinds of schemes are available for individual employees?

The employment contract can be fully suspended (for 16 weeks - to be calculated in complete calendar weeks) or partially suspended at the rate of 2 working days per week (for a maximum of 26 weeks).

What benefit will be provided?

During the period of unemployment the employee will be entitled to benefits from the RVA, amounting to 70% of the capped salary amount (2,754.76 euro per month). Employees who are made temporarily unemployed due to force majeure (reason 'coronavirus') will receive a supplement of EUR 5.63 per day, payable by the NEO, in addition to the unemployment benefit.

As an employer you can supplement this with a minimum of 5 euro per day of unemployment. If stipulated in the business plan and approved by the FPS Employment this amount can vary.

How long do these measures apply?

For the time being until 30 June 2020.

If you have other questions regarding the Corona crisis, please visit our special FAQ

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Bert Lutin
Bert Lutin
Partner Tax & Legal Services
An Lettens
An Lettens
Partner Tax & Legal Services