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Workforce Flexibility and Government Incentives in times of Covid-19 - Belgium

Short-Term Work State Aid

Covid-19 Questionnaire

Are there any regulations in place providing an employer with possibility for flexible workforce planning such as part-time work/temporary leave which are triggered in a situation similar to a pandemic outbreak as Covid-19?

Yes

If YES on question 1, please describe which type of regulation. Please confirm if and to what extent such leave can be supported by state aid and/or other extra-ordinary governmental support.

Specifically in the context of the Covid-19 crisis, the conditions for application of temporary unemployment for force majeure have been relaxed for employers that, while affected by the lockdown measure, only suffer a partial closure or are still allowed to offer limited services. These employers can put their affected employees in “temporary unemployment for force majeure” until 31 August 2020 included (which can be extended) with a reduced administrative burden. Moreover, exceptionally, alternated days of work and days of unemployment can apply and until 31 August 2020, the amount of the allowance for temporary unemployment for force majeure has been increased to 70% (instead of 65%) of the remuneration capped at €2,754.76 gross / month).

if YES on question 1, please describe which contacts that may need to be initiated with trade unions and/or works councils. Must a special process be followed?

In principle, the impact of the coronavirus crisis and of the lockdown measures imposed by the government on the employment within the undertaking should be the object of information and consultation of the works council. However, the limitation of meetings presented as a preventive measure by the Federal Ministry of Employment will hamper the normal information and consultation of the works council. No special procedure has been foreseen.

Are there any governmental programs if a company needs to close totally or partially for a certain time period?

Competence for economic matters is spread over the Federal authorities and the Regional authorities of the Walloon Region and the Flemish Region

Federal Government:

As of yet, the Federal Government has only introduced the possibility to benefit from extension of delays of payment for employer's social contributions and delayed payment plans, waiver of late payment interest and waiver of fines for the payment of (i) withholding tax payments, (ii) VAT and, (iii) Corporate taxes.

Flemish Government:

The Flemish Government has introduced the Covid-19 obstruction premium ('corona hinderpremie').

All companies that were affected by a complete closure are entitled to a fixed premium of €4,000; and if they still have to keep their business closed after 21 days, an additional premium of €160 per day.

Companies which only have to close at weekends are entitled to a premium of €2,000.

All companies that still have to keep their business closed after 6 April 2020 are entitled to a premium of €160 per day.

The premium is granted per establishment to the extent that at least one full-time member of staff is employed in the additional establishments. The number of premiums shall be limited to a maximum of five per establishment

If state aid and/or other extra-ordinary governmental support is available, please describe the necessary prerequisites to qualify for such state aid.

Federal Government:

The company need to demonstrate the existence of payment difficulties originating from the Covid-19 crisis (e.g. (turnover decrease, significant decrease of sales; ‘chain reactions’ such as supply problem or otherwise).

This measures cannot be granted to companies suffering from structural payment problems. The debt must not originate from a fraud.

Flemish Government:

All enterprises with a physical location (e.g. shop or office) in the Flemish Region that are obliged to (partially) close down directly because of the government measures can apply for the Covid-19 obstruction premium.

If state aid and/or other extra-ordinary governmental support is available, please describe the application procedure for such state aid (e.g. how and when is the application filed with the government etcetera; what shall such application include).

Federal Government:

Amicable delay payment of employer's social contributions: specific application form through the website of the National Office of Social Security:

https://www.socialsecurity.be/site_fr/employer/applics/paymentplan/index.htm#

Also must include the desired number of monthly instalment (up to 12), the reasons and justification of the payment difficulty.

Other aid schemes:

one demand per debt for all type of measures (delay payment, waiver of late interest; waiver of fines);

at the latest on 30 December 2020

a specific form must be filled, including the debt nature and amount and the motives and justification of the payment difficulties (https://finances.belgium.be/fr/entreprises/mesures-de-soutien-dans-le-cadre-du-coronavirus-covid-19);

the form must be sent to the Regional Centre for Recovery (CRC);

the demand will be processed within 30 days.

Flemish Government:

Applications for the 'corona obstruction premium' must be submitted at the latest on 13 June 2020 with the Agency for Innovation and Business (VLAIO).

LINK: https://www.vlaio.be/nl/subsidies-financiering/corona-hinderpremie/hoe-vraag-je-de-corona-hinderpremie-aan

Please note that the COVID-19 scenario is constantly changing and that this information is current as of 12 June 2020. This publication should not be regarded as offering a complete explanation of the legal matters referred to and is subject to changes in the law and other applicable rules.