National Labour Council adopts 2 COVID-19 related CBAs
22/10/2020

While our Belgian Governments are currently busy tightening the measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Labour Council (CNT - NAR) concluded 2 new COVID-19-related collective bargaining agreements (CBA) on 7 October 2020: CBA no. 148 and CBA no. 103/5. These CBA’s implement measures with regard to temporary unemployment for economic reasons due to COVID-19, as well as regarding the transfer from corona-related leaves of absences to “regular” time credit.

Collective Bargaining Agreement no. 148

CBA no. 147 of 18 March 2020 installed a general system of economic unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which - at that time - all employers in Belgium could use for their white-collar workers, if no industry-level CBA on this topic was available. The validity of this CBA ended on 30 June 2020 and, in practice, the CBA had little to no use because of the decision made a few days later by former federal Minister of Work Nathalie Muylle that all employers could rely on a simplified system of temporary unemployment due to force majeure resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new CBA no. 148 is the successor to CBA no. 147 and starts from the same principle; if no industry-level CBA is available on the topic, employers can use CBA no. 148 to apply for temporary unemployment for economic reasons without having to conclude a company-level CBA or draft a company plan to this effect. 

CBA no. 148 also increases the amount of the additional allowance the employee is entitled to at charge of his/her employer when he/she is put into an arrangement of temporary unemployment because of economic reasons to EUR 5,63/day (instead of the EUR 5/day in CBA no. 147).

Lastly, CBA no. 148 explicitly states that its provisions are also applicable to employers who can no longer invoke the simplified procedure for temporary unemployment due to force majeure resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic as from 1 September and would like to use the transitional system of temporary unemployment for economic reasons for their white-collar workers (also see our previous newsletter on this transitional system).

CBA no. 148 entered into effect retroactively on 1 July 2020 and is applicable until 31 December 2021.

Collective Bargaining Agreement no. 103/5

Several COVID-19 related leaves of absence  - corona parental leave, corona time credit and so-called corona “end-of-career time credit” - were introduced during the last months. Difficulties arose when employees, after having completed one of these corona-specific suspensions, wanted to immediately enter one of the “regular” types of time credit, career reduction and “end-of-career time credit”, as laid down in CBA no. 103. Indeed, because of the periods of corona-specific suspension, the employee could possibly no longer comply with the employment conditions for some types of “regular” time credit (e.g. when applying for ½ time-credit, the employee must have worked at least 3/4th of a full-time occupation in the 12 months preceding the application).

CBA no. 103/5 remedies this issue by determining that the periods of COVID-19 related career breaks are neutralised when determining the employment conditions required for entry into the “regular” system of time credit. This means that these employment conditions will be assessed by taking into account the period before the start of the COVID-19 related leave of absence.

Zie ook : PwC Legal ( Mr. Bart Elias ,  Mrs. Pascale Moreau )

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