As of 1 September 2020, the usual rules for temporary unemployment due to force majeure or for economic reasons will apply again, with the exception of the following nuances and deviations:
- Application of transitional measures until 31 December 2020 if the temporary unemployment regime for economic reasons is invoked;
- Keeping the simplified procedure for temporary unemployment due to force majeure (corona) for sectors or companies that have been particularly affected by the crisis.
Keeping of the simplified procedure for sectors or companies that have been particularly affected by the COVID-19-crisis
The simplified procedure for temporary unemployment due to force majeure corona (exemption from the notification to the National Employment Office (NEO) and the delivery of the control form C3.2A to the employee) will continue to apply to the employers:
- who belong to a sector that is still affected by the restrictive measures taken by the Minister of Home Affairs. The Federal Minister of Labour, the Economy and Consumers announced that a Royal Decree will define the sectors considered to be particularly affected by the crisis; or
- those who, at the level of their legal entity, can prove that they had at least 20% days of temporary unemployment (due to force majeure corona or economic reasons) during the 2nd quarter of 2020 compared to the total number of days declared at the National Social Security Office.
In order to be able to use the simplified procedure, the employer meeting one of the two criteria, must complete the form C106A-CORONA-HGO/EPT and send it by e-mail to the department ‘temporary unemployment’ of the unemployment office of the NEO that is competent for the jurisdiction where the company’s registered office is located.
Transitional measures in case the temporary unemployment scheme for economic reasons is used
1. For blue-collar workers
As a transitional measure and until 31 December 2020, the maximum period of suspension of the employment contract of blue-collar workers has been increased in the following manner, in the absence of sectoral provisions:
- The full suspension regime will be possible for a maximum period of 8 weeks (instead of 4 weeks);
- The regime of a partial suspension will be possible for a maximum period of 18 weeks in the event of a ‘major suspension‘ (instead of 3 months)
If the maximum suspension period is reached (8 or 18 weeks), then the blue-collar worker will have to return to work for a full working week before the suspension regime can be reapplied.
2. For white-collar workers
The employer who no longer meets the conditions to invoke the suspension of the execution of the employment contract due to force majeure, can submit a transition application for a full / partial suspension of the working time.
This application also provides an increase of the maximum duration of the suspension and is subject to several specific conditions:
a) Maximum increased duration
This transitional arrangement allows the employer to benefit from an additional credit of 8 weeks established as follows:
- A full suspension scheme for 24 weeks (instead of 16 weeks)
- A partial employment scheme for 34 weeks (instead of 26 weeks)
For that, the employer must prove that:
- there is a substantial decrease of at least 10% in turnover or production during the quarter preceding the introduction of the temporary unemployment scheme compared to the same quarter of 2019.
- he offers two training days per month to employees who are temporarily unemployed;
- he is bound by a collective labor agreement (a sectoral CLA or a company CLA) or a company plan for the period from 1 September 2020 to 31 December 2020 that provides for the additional payment.
In addition, this employer will have to send a form C106A-CORONA TRANSITIONAL SCHEME by registered letter to the ‘Temporary unemployment’ department of the unemployment office competent for the jurisdiction where the employer’s company is located no later than 14 days before the first notification ‘suspension of employees due to lack of work‘. In order to process the application as quickly as possible, it is also recommended to send the form simultaneously by e-mail.
- Kris De Schutter, Partner
Compliments of Loyens & Loeff – a member of the EACCNY.