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Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure BE-2020-10/1486 – measures in Belgium

New digital communication platform to maintain contact

Nieuw digitaal communicatieplatform voor werknemers

Country Belgium , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 01 March 2020
Context COVID-19
Type Company practices
Category Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Occupational health and safety
Author Dries Van Herreweghe (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) and Eurofound
Measure added 27 November 2020 (updated 15 June 2021)

Background information

Kruidvat is an international retail chain that is active in France, The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, it sells non-prescribed medical supplies and care products.

The first lockdown led to the shutdown of all 270 stores of the Kruidvat chain for a total of 7 weeks. Almost all of the company employees were put into the system of temporary unemployment. Which meant their income reduced to 70% of their regular wage. The company tried to maintain contact with its employees during this period of temporary unemployment via their internal digital communication channels, both to inform and maintain the connection between employer and employee.

Content of measure

On a financial level the company decided to supplement the income of their employees that were obliged to make use of the temporary unemployment system (a reduction to approximately 70% of their regular income). That way the employees received the wage they normally would get. There was also attention for the mental wellbeing of employees, as a significant number of them were worried about their own professional future as well as that of the company itself. There were initiatives to maintain contact digitally as well via internal digital platforms. This informed the employees of what was going on in the background of the company as stores remained closed as well as possible updates on the situation and the re-opening of stores. In a later phase these platforms were also used to inform personnel on safety protocols. In addition there are digital learning modules available on the platform that provide information and courses on mental wellbeing (both of the employee and of their colleagues).

Use of measure

All Kruidvat stores (270) as well as the support and administrative services.

Contents

  • Health and safety
  • Income protection
  • Work organisation

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Employees in standard employment
Does not apply to businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Company / Companies
Employer

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Unknown Unknown
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Unknown
  • Main level of involvement: Company level

Involvement

It is unclear what the involvement of the social partners was exactly. The trade unions however have their important formal role as members of the H&S committees.

Views and reactions

EO Comeos was present at the re-opening of the Kruidvat stores in Antwerp, to observe the safety precautions that were made.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      G - Wholesale And Retail Trade; Repair Of Motor Vehicles And Motorcycles G47 Retail trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles

This case is not occupation-specific.

Sources

Citation

Eurofound (2020), New digital communication platform to maintain contact, measure BE-2020-10/1486 (measures in Belgium), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/BE-2020-10_1486.html

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