To support companies, employees and self-employed individuals in these challenging times, the Belgian Government has been rolling out a Federal Plan for Social and Economic Protection in different waves. We communicated on the different employment-related measures included in this plan - e.g. temporary unemployment COVID-19 and corona parental leave - in the past and this update contains the latest announcements by the government in this respect.
Indeed, earlier this month, the Belgian government announced the extension of some existing support measures and the introduction of new ones along two different axes: encouraging investments and the organisation of work. Only the latter will be discussed in this newsletter.
As communicated earlier, the simplified procedure for temporary unemployment due to force majeure resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has been extended until 31 August 2020 for all industries and even until the end of the year for industries in difficulties, such as the hospitality industry. The government has now announced the creation of a specific COVID-19 temporary unemployment scheme that, as from 1 September 2020, will serve as a transition from the current simplified procedure for temporary unemployment due to force majeure resulting from COVID-19 to the regular temporary unemployment for economic reasons. This specific transitional scheme can be used by companies that experience a 10% drop in turnover. Moreover, employees who are put on temporary unemployment in this scheme must attend two days of training per month of unemployment. If the conditions for this specific scheme are met, the employee who is put on temporary unemployment will receive 70% of his capped salary as unemployment benefit from the National Employment Office. We are awaiting more details on this specific transitional scheme of temporary unemployment for economic reasons, as some key aspects currently remain unclear.
Furthermore, to avoid redundancies, companies that find themselves in difficulties or that are undergoing a restructuring will be able to introduce a working time reduction pending the resumption of their normal activities. This can be done either collectively, by means of a collective working time reduction, or individually, by means of time credit or end-of-career time credit. The access to end-of-career time credit with accompanying allowances will be lowered from 57 to 55 years of age.
With respect to the corona parental leave, the government announced that this type of leave will be applicable until 30 September 2020. In addition, the corona parental leave allowances - which are the same as the regular parental leave allowances, increased with 25% - will be increased to 150% of the regular parental leave allowances for single-parent families and families with disabled children.
Please note that these support measures are not yet formalised in legislation and still require some fine-tuning, however, we will follow up closely and keep you posted.
Should you require more information, do not hesitate to contact us.