Additional and extended employment law support measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic
16/04/2021

On 13 April, the Act of 2 April 2021 on temporary support measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic was published in the Belgian State Gazette. This law is a compilation of support measures in different areas, such as employment, social affairs, social assistance, pensions, economy and taxation. Below you will find a brief overview of the employment law support measures which have either been extended or adapted or which have been introduced by this recent law.

  • The increase to 220 hours of the number of voluntary overtime hours that an employee can work with an employer belonging to the critical sectors remains applicable until 30 June 2021. The additional number of voluntary overtime hours does not give rise to any compensatory rest breaks nor to the payment of overtime pay and does not count for the application of the so-called internal limit;
     
  • There is an exception to the prohibition on concluding consecutive fixed-term employment contracts until 30 June 2021 in the healthcare sector, in the education sector and in institutions and centres for contact tracing. Private and public institutions and services that are responsible for the operation of vaccination centres and all related activities are now also considered to be part of the healthcare sector, and this also with regard to all employment law measures listed below;
     
  • Until 30 June 2021, employers can easily post their permanent staff to the healthcare or education sector, or to contact tracing institutions and centres;
     
  • Employees who are on temporary unemployment can work for another employer in the healthcare or education sector, or for another employer operating a contact tracing service, with partial retention of unemployment benefits;
     
  • People under an “unemployment with company allowance” scheme can resume work until 30 June 2021 with an employer from the healthcare or education sector, or with an employer operating a contact tracing service, with partial retention of unemployment benefits and full retention of the company allowance;
     
  • Employees on time credit, career break or thematic leave can temporarily resume work until 30 June 2021 with another employer in the healthcare or education sector, or with an employer operating a contact tracing service, while retaining their interruption benefits;
     
  • Employees on time credit or thematic leave can resume work on a full-time basis with their own employer until 30 June 2021, without retention of interruption benefits, but with suspension of the interruption or the reduction in the working hours. This means that at the end of the temporary full-time work, the time credit or the thematic leave is automatically resumed under the same conditions for the remaining duration. These employees cannot be placed on temporary unemployment during their temporary full-time work resumption;
     
  • In the context of employment of foreign nationals, the condition that only applicants for international protection who have not yet received notification of the decision by the Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons four months after submitting their application for international protection are allowed to work remains suspended until 30 June 2021, provided that their application was registered on 8 December 2020 at the latest;
     
  • Until 30 June 2021, employees can continue to benefit from temporary unemployment force majeure corona in case of a closure of their children’s school, day-care centre or centre for disabled persons;
     
  • The hours worked by a student in the second quarter of 2021 in the healthcare or education sector are not taken into account for the calculation of the annual quota of 475 hours that can be worked by students at reduced social security rates;
     
  • When employees with an employment contract for service cheques or employees who are responsible for the transport of pupils to and from educational institutions are suddenly unable to work for half a day because of an unforeseeable reason beyond the employer’s control which is a direct consequence of the corona pandemic, the employer does not need to pay a guaranteed daily wage for this half day in order to allow temporary unemployment for half a day;
     
  • Employers belonging to the events sector can, temporarily and subject to certain conditions, benefit from a target group reduction. This target group reduction can be granted for the second and third quarters of 2021;
     
  • Certain categories of employers belonging to the travel sector can, temporarily and under certain conditions, be granted a reduction in social security contributions. Eligible employers can apply for this until 30 June 2021 at the latest.

Action point

If your company is currently using an existing employment law support measure, this can be continued until at least the end of June. Check whether your company is also eligible and wants to make use of one of the other measures mentioned above.

Related : Claeys & Engels

[+ htp://www.claeysengels.be]


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