The government's vaccination campaign is now progressing well. Employers are eager to have a large number of their workers vaccinated to be able to work in a safe and healthy environment and resume business as usual. However, can employers force their workers to get vaccinated? Can they ask their workers to submit a vaccination certificate? Must they grant their workers paid leave of absence to get vaccinated? This Q&A answers these and other questions.
As many employers either have not been or have been insufficiently respecting compulsory teleworking, the government has enhanced the monitoring of compulsory teleworking by introducing a new online registration obligation for employers. From April 2021, every employer must submit a monthly declaration via the National Social Security Office's online portal by the sixth calendar day of each month.
Traditionally, Belgian labour law has distinguished between two forms of telework: structural and occasional telework. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a third category has been added: COVID-19 telework, which was previously recommended but has now been made compulsory again by the government. The National Labour Council has now concluded Collective Labour Agreement Number 149, which creates the legal framework for COVID-19 teleworking.
A new royal decree has temporarily extended occupational doctors' role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic in the workplace. Occupational doctors will be contact tracers in the workplace and in this context have been given the authority to identify high-risk contacts in the company, issue a quarantine certificate for these workers and refer certain workers to be tested.
As part of measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the government imposed a new record-keeping obligation and compliance check on certain employers and users which temporarily rely on foreign employees or self-employed individuals. The government has extended these obligations to all sectors and industries. In addition, foreign workers and self-employed individuals must, under certain circumstances, provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test.
The new Ministerial Decree of 1 November 2020 stipulates that, until 13 December 2020, all workers must telework. However, an exception applies when either an employee's role or the continuity of business operations, activities and services does not allow for teleworking. In such cases, employers must provide the worker with a certificate or other supporting document attesting that their presence in the workplace is needed. The minister of internal affairs has already announced that inspections will be organised.
The government recently reinforced the urgent measures to limit the further spread of COVID-19. Teleworking is no longer highly recommended, but has become the standard for all employees whose roles allow for telework. Yet, the new rule is less far-reaching than that in place during the first lockdown, as an exception now applies when the continuity of business operations, activities and services does not allow for teleworking.
In principle, companies should have decided whether to vote electronically in the social elections as early as February 2020. However, companies that did not do so but, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, would like to do so now have been given the opportunity to introduce electronic voting. However, they must reach an agreement on this issue by Day X+56 (ie, between 13 October 2020 and 26 October 2020, depending on the new election date).
From 1 September 2020, new rules on temporary unemployment will enter into force. Companies and sectors that are substantially affected by the COVID-19 crisis can continue to apply the current and simplified COVID-19 force majeure temporary unemployment regime until 31 December 2020. For sectors and companies that are not substantially affected by the COVID-19 crisis, the current COVID-19 force majeure regime can no longer be applied from 1 September 2020.
The Act of 12 June 2020 implemented the EU Posted Workers Directive in Belgium by introducing, among other things, adjustments to the Act of 5 March 2002 Relating to Labour, Salary and Employment Conditions When Posting Workers to Belgium. This article summarises the key changes introduced by the act and its impact on employers.
Benefits in general – and shares and restricted stock units in particular – attributed by a third party (eg, a foreign parent company) to employees of a Belgian (group) company will, in principle, be subject to Belgian social security contributions. If followed, the Ghent Labour Court of Appeal's recent decision in Esko will make it even harder, if not impossible, for international groups to avoid the payment of social security contributions.
With the exit from lockdown in full swing, many companies are recalling their staff to the workplace. This article answers 10 FAQs that employers, business managers and HR specialists must consider during their employees' return to work, including what are employers' health and safety obligations, must employers consult staff or employee representatives on their health and safety measures and do fines or penalties for non-compliance exist?
Until now, there has been no suspension of the notice period served on employees who have been made temporarily unemployed under the specific 'COVID-19 regime'. As employers could dismiss employees 'cheaply', a draft bill to suspend the notice period in the event of COVID-19 temporary unemployment was submitted in Parliament. The Chamber of Representatives has now voted to introduce the law without retroactive effect. But what does this mean for employers?
The controversial issue of whether employers can check their employees' temperatures has been much debated. The Employment Ministry and the Data Protection Authority (DPA) have recently changed their positions in this respect. The Employment Ministry allows temperature checks, but only during the COVID-19 pandemic and provided that the decision to introduce such checks is included in the company's work rules. The DPA has also clarified its position regarding the processing of personal data.
As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the social partners have decided to suspend the current social election procedure and postpone its continuation until after the summer. This article outlines the most important consequences of this postponement for employers.
Until recently, when considering implementing a temporary unemployment regime within a company, employers could, depending on their specific situation, apply for the temporary unemployment regime based on either 'force majeure' or 'economic reasons'. The government has implemented a temporary COVID-19 unemployment regime whereby if an employer is faced with temporary unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this situation is automatically considered to be force majeure.
The government has adopted new socio-economic measures that aim to support the Belgian economy during the COVID-19 economic downturn. Most of the measures seek to encourage individuals to continue working and allow for more flexibility in the way that work can be carried out. This article provides an overview of the different measures that have been approved by the Council of Ministers.