Factsheet for case BE-2020-11/380 – Updated – measures in Belgium
|Country||Belgium , applies nationwide|
|Time period||Temporary, 13 March 2020 – 31 August 2020|
|Type||Legislations or other statutory regulations|
Employment protection and retention
– Income support for people in employment (e.g. short-time work)
|Author||Dries Van Herreweghe (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) and Eurofound|
|Case created||08 April 2020 (updated 27 October 2020)|
|Related ERM support instrument|
The measure was introduced due to the strong increase in requests for temporary unemployment (which normally can only be implemented under certain conditions). The measure alleviates pressure on the institutions that are tasked with organizing and distributing unemployment benefits, both the National Employment Office (NEO) and the trade unions (that also play an important role in paying out the unemployment benefits). The use of temporary unemployment means that the employers no longer have to pay the wages of their employees (the cost is transferred to the government through the unemployment benefit), thereby enabling them to reduce their costs and enhances their ability to better cope with the period of inactivity of the business.
The measures makes the procedure shorter and more simplified for employees in order to make sure that they receive their unemployment benefit as fast as possible.
From 13 March 2020, the notion of temporary unemployment due to force majeure will be flexibly applied by the NEO. All situations of temporary unemployment due to the corona virus can be considered as temporary unemployment due to force majeure, even if, for example, it is still possible to work on certain days.
For the duration of the restrictive measures, the employer is no longer obliged to send notices of temporary unemployment for reasons of force majeure to the competent unemployment office of the NEO.
The employee may use a simplified form to submit the application for benefits to the designated payment institution.
The employee receives a benefit equal to 70% of his average capped salary (capped at €2,754.76 per month).
The employee who is made temporarily unemployed due to force majeure (reason "coronavirus") will receive a supplement of €5.63 per day on top of the unemployment benefit, from the NEO. A withholding tax on professional income of 26.75% is deducted from the benefit.
At the peak of the crisis, approximately 1.2 million employees made use of the system of temporary unemployment out of an active population of less than 4 million.
Employees in standard employment
||Does not apply to businesses||Does not apply to citizens|
Company / Companies
Public support service providers
Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:
|Trade unions||Employers' organisations|
|Role||Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative||Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative|
|Form||Consultation through tripartite or bipartite social dialogue bodies||Consultation through tripartite or bipartite social dialogue bodies|
Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:
The National Labour Council provides advice and a collective agreement (147) has been signed which formalizes the measure until the 30 June.
Besides this agreement and advice discussions are taking place between trade unions and employers: trade unions claim that some employers abuse temporary unemployment and place sick employees (with sicknesses that have no connection to Corona) within the temporary unemployment sickness system to reduce costs, while in practice this is forbidden and they have to continue to provide guaranteed salary to those employees. Many of these companies that abuse this situation are in fact even still functioning properly despite the Corona measures.
Eurofound (2020), Extension of temporary unemployment due to force majeure, case BE-2020-11/380 (measures in Belgium), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, http://eurofound.link/covid19eupolicywatch
Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.