06/08/2020

COVID-19: temporary unemployment as from September 1, 2020

In our newsletter of June 19, 2020, we informed you that the current system of temporary unemployment due to force majeure corona is applicable until August 31, 2020.

Under certain conditions, temporary unemployment due to force majeure corona can be continued as from September 1, 2020. Companies that are no longer eligible can use an adapted form of economic unemployment, i.e. “transitional” economic unemployment.

We will discuss both systems in this newsletter, as well as the case of temporary unemployment due to force majeure in specific cases.

This newsletter reflects the state of affairs on August 6, 2020.

 

Continuation simplified system of temporary unemployment corona under certain conditions: “corona unemployment 2.0”

The simplified temporary unemployment due to force majeure corona (hereinafter: corona unemployment) may continue to be applied by companies that were severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, or by companies in a severely impacted sector. As the Secretary of Work has not yet defined these severely impacted sectors, the Unemployment Office recommends all companies concerned to use the criterion 'severely impacted company'.

Companies with at least 20% of temporary unemployment in the second quarter of 2020 are considered to be severely impacted. If you’re in doubt whether or not you meet this condition, please contact your Payroll Business Partner.

The employer has to introduce the application for this corona unemployment 2.0 upfront, via a new form C106A-CORONA-HGO (Dutch) / C106A-CORONA-EPT (French) with the Temporary Unemployment department of the Unemployment Office competent for the company. The Unemployment Office does not provide a deadline for this, but recommends to do this as quickly as possible. As soon as the employer receives a positive reply, he can continue to apply corona unemployment.

Aside from this new form, the employer has to inform the employee(s) in advance about the period and the number of days of corona unemployment as described in our newsletter of July 16, 2020.

The other modalities of corona unemployment remain the same as described in our previous newsletter of April 8, 2020. Please inform Pro-Pay in due time if you wish to start this procedure.

 

New type of temporary unemployment: “transitional” economic unemployment

A number of employers will not be able to use the extended corona unemployment, but have been economically impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. As from September 1, 2020, they can use the system of economic unemployment, adapted to the current crisis.

If this system is used, the employer cannot delegate the work that is usually performed by the unemployed employees to third parties (same as for corona unemployment).

The conditions for economic unemployment are different for blue and white-collar employees.

 

Blue-collar workers

For blue-collar workers, the previous (fairly simple) procedure for economic unemployment continues to apply. This system is different than that of corona unemployment.

There are 3 ways to introduce economic unemployment for blue-collar workers:

  • Complete suspension: not a single working day is performed. The maximum duration of this system is temporarily increased from 4 weeks to 8 weeks.
  • Partial employment big suspension: less than 3 working days are provided, or less than one working week every 2 weeks. The maximum duration of this system is temporarily increased from 3 months to 18 weeks.
  • Partial employment small suspension: at least 3 working days per week are provided, or at least 1 working week every 2 weeks. This can be used for maximum 12 months.

When the maximum duration of the suspension is obtained, the employer has to introduce a full working week before applying the suspensions again. You are therefore not limited to the above maximum duration, as long as the employees work for an entire working week in between two suspension systems.

In contrast to the corona unemployment, the blue-collar worker must first use all his compensatory rest days before he can be put in temporary unemployment. It concerns among others compensatory rest for overtime and work on Sundays and public holidays. It does not concern compensatory rest in the framework of working time reduction (working time reduction days).

The employer should pay the economically unemployed blue-collar worker a daily supplement on top of the unemployment allowances. The minimum amount depends on the competent joint industrial committee.

Aside from that, employers have to comply - among others -  with the following formalities:

  • Inform the blue-collar workers at least 7 calendar days before the start of the unemployment by posting this in the company or via individual notification;
  • Deliver a C3.2A-form to every blue-collar worker who is economically unemployed. The blue-collar worker requires this form to apply for temporary unemployment allowances with his payment institution;
  • Complete a validation book (on paper or electronically);
  • Introduce an electronic declaration ASR-scenario 2 and an ASR-scenario 5.

Pro-Pay can assist you with these formalities.

! Attention: it is possible that specific and/or additional modalities related to economic unemployment are provided on a sector level via a sector CLA.

 

White-collar workers

The economic unemployment for white-collar workers is less flexible than corona unemployment.

Two types of economic unemployment are possible for white-collar workers:

  • Complete unemployment: not a single working day is performed. The maximum duration is temporarily increased from 16 weeks to 24 weeks.
  • Partial unemployment: at least 2 working days per week are performed. Contrary to corona unemployment it is therefore not possible that a white-collar employee is temporarily unemployed only 1 day per working week. The maximum duration is temporarily increased from 26 to 34 weeks.

The employer also has to draft a company plan with the following mandatory mentions:

  • Proof of a substantial decrease in turnover or production of minimum 10% in comparison to the same quarter in 2019;
  • The employer offers the white-collar worker two training days per month.
    The employee is not obligated to take this training. The training can be planned on an unemployment day (covered by the unemployment allowance) or on a working day (paid by the employer).
  • The amount of the daily supplement the employer is obligated to pay to the employees. The minimum amount is determined on a sector level.

This plan has to be deposited with the registry of the General Direction of Collective Labour Relations.

! Unlike with corona unemployment, the white-collar worker must first use all his compensatory rest days before he can be put in temporary unemployment. It concerns among others compensatory rest for overtime and work on Sundays and public holidays. It does not concern compensatory rest in the framework of working time reduction (working time reduction days).

The employer also has to comply among others with the following formalities:

  • Send the form C106A-CORONA-OVERGANGSSTELSEL (Dutch) / C106A-CORONA-REGIME TRANSITOIRE (French) to the department of temporary unemployment of the competent Unemployment Office. The Unemployment Office will check whether the employer meets the conditions. The employees can be informed at the earliest 14 days after the C106A-form has been sent;
  • Inform the white-collar workers at least 7 calendar days before the first unemployment day about the planned economic unemployment by way of posting in the company or via an individual notification;
  • Deliver a C3.2A-form to every white-collar worker that is economically unemployed. The white-collar worker requires this form to apply for temporary unemployment allowances with his payment institution;
  • Complete a validation book (on paper or electronically);
  • Introduce an electronic declaration ASR-scenario 2 and an ASR-scenario 5.

Pro-Pay can assist you with these formalities.

! Attention: it is possible that specific and/or additional modalities related to economic unemployment are provided on a sector level in a sector CLA.

 

Other specific cases of temporary unemployment due to force majeure

If the employer is not a company that was severely impacted, but wishes to apply for temporary unemployment due to force majeure for a different reason, the employer will have to comply with more formalities than before:

  • Notify the reason for force majeure via the electronic application on www.socialsecurity.be;
  • Deliver a C3.2A-form to the employee concerned;
  • Introduce an electronic declaration ASR-scenario 2 and an ASR-scenario 5.

Pro-Pay can assist you with these formalities.

An employee could for example be temporarily unemployed due to force majeure because he has a quarantine certificate from a doctor and is unable to work from home.

! According to the most recent instructions of the Unemployment Office, employees who travel to an area with code red upon departure and who are subsequently obligated to go into quarantine upon their return and who cannot work from home, are not entitled to temporary unemployment allowances due to force majeure. As such a trip is prohibited by the government, the Unemployment Office does not accept this as force majeure. The employee will not receive any salary, nor an unemployment allowance in that case.

Point of attention: Verify which system may apply to your company if you wish to continue to use the system of temporary unemployment for your employees as from September 1, 2020, and start your preparations on time.





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