Corona virus: implications for Belgian staff

The Corona virus raises many questions and uncertainties. What consequences does COVID-19 have for your Belgian staff? At EuroDev we are dealing with European HR matters every day. With our experience we try to answer your questions as clear as we can. Every country has their own measures regarding the Coronavirus. If you employ people in Belgium, the information below might help you with managing your Belgian staff.

*The information in the blog has the purpose to help the reader with gaining more knowledge and insights on the measures taken by the government. Please keep in mind that we have outlined basic rules. There might be specific terms, rules and regulations to each measure. As a result, EuroDev cannot guarantee any reimbursements or liabilities.  For more detailed information, please contact our experts.

Government measures

The total number of corona cases in Belgium, as of March 30 2020, is 11,899. 

All recreational and sporting events will be cancelled or postponed. Public places like restaurants, bars, cafes and clubs are shut down until the 5th of April. Schools are officially closed until Easter holidays (4 April) but kindergartens, for now, will remain open. Stores like supermarkets, pharmacies or grocery stores will remain open. All of these measures have an option to extend further to May 3. 

All the measures taken by the government to support individuals and businesses will cost this year's budget between 8 and 10 billion euros.

State-paid temporary unemployment

If the coronavirus creates situations making it impossible for (parts of) the workforce to actually work, the employer could consider applying for temporary unemployment due to unforeseen circumstances. If this application is successful, the employee receives an allowance from the national unemployment office (RVA/ONEM) during the days of inactivity.

Employees who are unable to work due to illness are entitled to receive their normal salary for a period up to, in principle, the first month of illness, at the expense of the employer and cannot enter into the regime of state-paid temporary unemployment.

Taxes

As far as taxes are concerned, there will,  be a two-month postponement, including in personal income tax and for companies

FAQ Belgium employment during Coronavirus

Is there an obligation to pay salary to employees?

If the national unemployment office recognizes a temporary unemployment situation is due to unforeseen circumstances, the employer will be released generally from its obligation to pay salary. As noted earlier, however, employees who are actually ill are entitled to their normal salary for a period up to the first month of illness, at the employer’s expense. In situations not recognized by the national unemployment office as temporary unemployment, it will be much more difficult for the employer to validly suspend its obligation to pay salary. As cases vary, we recommend you get in touch with Monique Ramondt, VP of HR Outsourcing for tailored advice.

What are the rights for employees to work from home?

The law allows employees to ask for occasional remote working in case of unforeseen circumstances or personal reasons. Occasional telework is defined as a situation where employees work occasionally (as opposed to on a regular basis) from home or from another adequate location other than their usual place of work. This right is not absolute, since the employer has a right to refuse the telework request.

Update: Is teleworking compulsory?  

Teleworking is compulsory for all non-essential services, whatever their size, and for all employees for whom this is possible, without exception. 

In addition to these questions, you might have questions specific to your case and company. If you are looking for answers, we are happy to help. Schedule a 15-minute call with Monique Ramondt, VP of HR Outsourcing via the image below:

Schedule a call Monique

About EuroDev

EuroDev, established in 1996 with offices in The Netherlands and France, has a single, defined purpose to help mid-sized North American companies expand their business in Europe. We have created a proven, successful business development model and since our founding, have partnered with over 300 companies to help them define and meet their European business goals. Services provided include Sales Outsourcing, HR Outsourcing and Digital Marketing. EuroDev is home to 75 professionals from 24 nationalities, covering a total of 21 languages between them. 

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