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COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

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

Factsheet for case BE-2020-40/1203 – measures in Belgium

Temporary unemployment in case of school closure

Tijdelijke werkloosheid in geval van sluiting school

Country Belgium , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, started on 01 October 2020
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Income protection beyond short-time work
– Support for parents and carers (financial or in kind)
Author Dries Van Herreweghe (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) and Eurofound
Case created 30 September 2020 (updated 06 October 2020)

Background information

The use of temporary unemployment has been widely used in the past months of the crisis. Along the way it has been adapted to best suit the situation and the phase the country is currently in (for example, it is now mostly aimed at companies/sectors that are still heavily struck). The latest addition is a new specific form of temporary unemployment that is guaranteed to parents in case the school of their children is forced to close due to the virus and the accompanying measures.

Content of measure

Currently, if a child has to be quarantined after contact with an infected person the parents are allowed to make use of the temporary unemployment scheme to care of their child (which allows them to stay at home and removes the wage cost from the employer).

What has not yet been regulated is the situation in which a child has to be preventively quarantined because the school or after/pre school care (or part of it) is closed due to a an outbreak (or possible outbreak) of the virus. These situations are often very difficult for parents as it forces them to search for care on very short notice. The new measure that is proposed by the newly formed government arranges that parents can opt to make use of temporary unemployment in these situations (given they have the proper certificate from the school or care unit). This allows them to have more time to look for care for their child(ren), while not costing money to the employer (as the labour cost is carried by the government).

Use of measure

The measure has not been implemented as for now, it is however quite sure that it will be in the near future. Only Flemish Nationalist party N-VA demands a second reading of the entire measure and had some critique, as they believe it lead to abuse and unnecessary costs.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Parents in employment
Applies to all businesses Applies to all citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Trade unions
National funds

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: N/A

Involvement

With regards to the design it is unclear what the role of the social partners was. With regards to implementation, the trade unions traditionally play an important role in the payments of unemployment benefits (Belgium having a quasi-Ghent system).

Views and reactions

No public statements currently available by the social partners (perhaps due to the fact that it has not been finalized nor implemented yet).

Sources

Citation

Eurofound (2020), Temporary unemployment in case of school closure, case BE-2020-40/1203 (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.