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Covid-19 – employment related measures for businesses

Since March 2020 different authorities took measures in Belgium to reduce the spreading of Covid-19. In order to overcome the economic impact of these decisions, many compensating measures were taken. We are committed to keeping you up to date on this.

Corona premium

Companies that performed well (i.e. “good results”) during the corona crisis can grant employees a corona premium between 1 August 2021 and 31 December 2021. Employees can use this tax-advantaged premium (that will be granted in the form of a consumption voucher) in a number of stores and establishments to support consumption and contribute to the economic recovery. The corona premium can be used until 31 December 2022.

But what are good results? Since this concept is not determined in the regulations, the union representatives may consider that the results were good while the employer or employers' representatives may disagree. Please note that, unless the granting of a corona premium is imposed at sector level, the final decision remains with the employer.

The corona premium is not subject to employee social security contributions under certain conditions (e.g. maximum 500 EUR per employee and granted in a sectoral or company collective bargaining agreement or, in the absence of union representation, in an individual agreement). However, a special employer social security contribution of 16.5% is due. The premium is also exempt from personal income tax and fully deductible for the employer (gross = net).

Extension of Covid-19 telework

Telework is one of the measures introduced by the government to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to arrange this mandatory or recommended “Covid-19” telework and safeguard its smooth running, Collective Bargaining Agreement No. 149 (hereinafter “CBA No. 49”) was concluded. CBA No. 149 applies to companies that have not developed a telework scheme by 1 January 2021, either on the basis of the structural telework regulations or on the basis of the occasional telework regulations. These companies are required to enter into “Covid-19” telework agreements for each teleworker. The companies that already had a developed policy in place before 1 January 2021, were thus not forced to shake things up.

The National Labor Council concluded Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) No. 149/2 on 7 December 2021 that extends CBA No. 149, which is in effect until 31 December 2021. CLA No. 149/2 is again concluded for a fixed term, from 1 January 2022 to 31 March 2022.

Temporary unemployment due to Covid-19

On 10 December 2021, the federal government approved a package of economic support measures to help Belgians cope with the sanitary restrictions resulting from the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. This package includes, among other things, an extension of the system of temporary unemployment due to force majeure for all sectors. It is of no importance whether you are recognized as an exceptionally hard-hit company or belong to an exceptionally hard-hit sector. This system of temporary unemployment due to force majeure because of the coronavirus can be used in the following cases:

  • Temporary unemployment due to a lack of work because of Covid-19
  • Temporary unemployment on the basis of a quarantine certificate
  • Temporary unemployment on the basis of a certificate of closure of the school or the crèche of your employee's children

This may involve a complete suspension of the performance of the employment contract or a partial suspension of the performance of the employment contract.

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Alexis Ceuterick
Partner

KPMG Law
Brussels

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