COVID-19: Leave of absence vaccination and other novelties
On the 9th of April 2021, the leave of absence for vaccination was officially introduced after publication in the Belgian Official Gazette. In this newsletter, we outline the leave of absence for vaccination as well as (the extension of) the most important support measures for employers and employees in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leave of absence vaccination
The Belgian government wants to encourage as many people as possible to be vaccinated and has introduced the right to leave of absence for vaccination to this end. This leave of absence is official as from today (09.04.2021), the day of publication in the Belgian Official Gazette. Employees are given the right to be absent from work for the time necessary for the vaccination, as well as for the travel time to and from the vaccination centre, while retaining their normal salary. Vaccination leave is considered as a type of leave of absence. The time required for vaccination therefore means that workers are not automatically entitled to half or a full day of paid absence. Employees can use this vaccination leave as from 09.04.2021 until 31.12.2021.
Control by employer and privacy
In order to be entitled to the salary, the employee must inform the employer in advance and inform the employer as soon as possible of the time of his/her vaccination, as soon as the employee knows this time. The employer may ask the employee to present the proof of the confirmation of the appointment. Only if the confirmation would not mention the time of the appointment, the employer may ask to present the invitation to the appointment itself.
The employer may only use the proof of the confirmation of the appointment or of the invitation of the appointment for the proper organisation of the work and for the correct payroll administration. In concrete terms, this means that the employer is not allowed to make a copy of the proof of the appointment or of the invitation to the appointment! The information contained therein cannot be copied by writing it down by hand either. The employer may only note the time of the appointment and register the employee's absence as leave of absence, without specifying that it is a leave of absence for vaccination purposes.
Extension corona unemployment
The federal government decided to extend the existing regime of corona unemployment. This temporary measure was set to expire on 31.03.2021, but has now been extended again until 30.06.2021. You can find more information about the conditions for employers wanting to use this type of temporary unemployment in our previous newsletter: COVID-19: temporary unemployment.
We would like to remind you that, as an employer, you should take the following steps if you wish to apply corona unemployment:
- Inform your employees in writing prior to the start of corona unemployment about:
- the period of corona unemployment;
- the number of days during which the employee will be temporarily unemployed and in the event of partial corona unemployment, also the number of days on which the employee does work.
- Inform your Payroll Business Partner which days your employees will work and which days they are unemployed.
Pro-Pay takes care of the required electronic registration of these unemployment days, which allows the unemployment office (RVA/ONEM) to determine the unemployment allowance for the employee.
Temporary increase office costs
As an employer, you have the option to grant your employees who work from home on a structural and regular basis, a monthly lump sum indemnity of €129.48 for office costs. The lump sum indemnity is intended to cover, among other things, costs for heating, electricity, water, insurance, office supplies and refreshments.
This indemnity is exempt from taxes and social security contributions and will be increased in the second quarter of 2021 (from 01.04.2021 to 30.06.2021) to a maximum of €144.31 per month.
Both the social security authorities and the tax authorities use the amount of the indemnity for office costs. In our newsletter of 24.07.2020, we informed you that, up until now, the tax authorities stipulated as a condition that all employees, without distinction in function, should receive the same indemnity. On 26.02.2021, the tax authorities published a new circular letter allowing different amounts to be given based on an objective justification, i.e. based on the function category or factual circumstances.
In the aforementioned circular letter, the tax authorities have also created the possibility of granting an additional lump sum for the use of the employee’s own second computer screen and printer/scanner. The social security authorities follow this point of view. The employer can give a maximum of €10 per month (€5 per item) for the professional use of the employee’s own second computer screen and printer/scanner (during a maximum period of 3 years). Please note that this indemnity cannot be cumulated with the lump sum of €20 per month for the use of the employee’s own PC.