COVID-19 update: Belgian measures with regard to employment
Recently, the Belgian government has announced new support measures as well as modifications of the current support measures in the framework of the corona crisis. We outline the measures that are currently known in this newsletter.
We cannot emphasize enough that the Belgian government adjusts these measures as much as every day. This newsletter reflects the state of affairs on April 17, 2020.
Simplified procedure temporary unemployment extended to May 31
As communicated in our newsletter of April 8, a simplified procedure to apply temporary unemployment due to force majeure for your employees has been introduced in response to the corona crisis. This procedure was valid until April 5, but has recently been extended until April 19.
In the meanwhile, the Unemployment Office (RVA/ONEM) has confirmed that the simplified procedure is extended until May 31, 2020. The procedures and conditions remain unchanged and are to be found in our newsletter of April 8.
In our newsletter of March 23, we informed you that you are eligible for a two-month deferment of payment of the withholding tax for the months of February 2020 (deferment until 13 May 2020) and March 2020 (deferment until 15 June 2020).
This deferment has been extended to April. The payment period of the withholding tax of April 2020 has more specifically been prolonged to July 15, 2020.
If you wish to use the possibility of a deferment of payment, we explicitly ask you to contact your Payroll Business Partner at Pro-Pay.
Agreement social partners about proposal to modify medical certificate
The “Group of Ten”, a group composed of the most important employee and employer representatives, has reached an agreement about the adaptation of the rules regarding medical certificates and the guaranteed salary for ill employees.
The social partners have made the following suggestions:
- To split the medical certificate into two parts, so the GP can make the distinction between an employee who is ill and an employee who is obliged to stay at home, for example because a family member is infected with the corona virus.
The ill employee will receive a guaranteed salary. The employee who is obliged to stay at home, has to work from home or will receive a temporary unemployment allowance if working from home is not possible.
- To align the illness benefits with the temporary unemployment allowances by increasing the illness benefits up to tot 70% of the (capped) gross salary.
This agreement still has to be confirmed by the federal government. We therefore have to wait for the effective implementation of this agreement.
Additional socio-economic measures
Lastly, the government has announced, among others, the following temporary measures in “critical” or “essential” sectors:
- 220 voluntary overtime hours that are during a limited period of time free from withholding tax and social security contributions in essential sectors;
- The temporary posting of employees to essential sectors;
- The employment of temporarily unemployed employees in critical sectors;
- The possibility to conclude subsequent short fixed-term employment contracts.
These measures have yet to be finalized. In addition, we expect that supplementary measures for all employers (e.g. with regard to the expansion of student work or the inclusion of asylum seekers) will be developed soon.
We now have to wait for the actual implementation of these measures in the form of a royal or ministerial decree. We will reach out to you as soon as we have more information.