The Belgian government’s far-reaching COVID-19 countermeasures have resulted in the forced closure of businesses in certain industries. Other companies, although not subject to forced closure, are confronted with a reduction of their customer base, production, turnover, etc. as a direct result of the pandemic and can therefore no longer maintain their employees’ normal working schedule. Companies affected can use the system of temporary unemployment for their employees and the Belgian government has already taken steps to simplify and streamline the application procedure in this respect.
The current health crisis also impacts international workforces. COVID-19 countermeasures such as travel bans, quarantines, lockdowns - including the obligation to work from home - and closed airports affect the travel and work patterns of internationally mobile workforces. In these volatile times, it’s not only important to be able to track your mobile workforce in real time, but also examine the immigration, social security and personal income tax consequences of their disrupted travel - and work patterns.
Following the Belgian government’s strengthened countermeasures, all companies that can continue operating - regardless of their size - have been obliged to organise home working for each position where it’s not manifestly impossible. Apart from the technical and operational challenges of mass-teleworking, there are different personal income tax, labour law and social security aspects that must be taken into account as well.
Given the economic impact of the current health crisis, the Belgian government has adopted a number of support measures for businesses that are facing difficulties directly resulting from the coronavirus spread, including on workforce-related topics. These support measures include an automatic deferment of wage-withholding taxes by two months, additional payment arrangements for wage-withholding tax debts and the possibility to request payment by installments for social security contributions of the first and second quarter of 2020.