New issues and rules of social law in a COVID-19 context
A new quarantine parental leave, extension of the temporary unemployment for economic reasons COVID-19… Last week, several measures were adopted by the Belgian legislator and the National Labor Council in the context of the coronavirus crisis.
Adoption of the “quarantine” parental leave
When the school, kindergarten or the day care center closes due to a quarantine measure, parents of minor or disabled children affected by the closure can take up full-time parental leave without the employer’s prior approval. During this specific form of short term parental leave, the employment agreement will be suspended and the working parent will be entitled to corona temporary unemployment benefits and a complementary daily compensation of 5,63€ gross paid by the National Employment Office. A certificate from the school, kindergarten or day care center will confirm the duration of the closing for quarantine.
The measure adopted will retroact from October 1st 2020 and apply till December 31st 2020.
Extension of the “corona” temporary unemployment
The National Labor Council concluded Collective Bargaining Agreement nr 148 to introduce a legal basis for the retroactive extension of the relaxed conditions of temporary unemployment for economic reasons linked to the COVID-19 crisis for companies that have no agreement at sector level or at company level foreseeing the suspension of the employment agreement and/or a reduction of the work time regime.
Subject to certain conditions, companies will be entitled to make use of the “corona” temporary unemployment for economic reasons until December 31st 2020. Companies can also opt for a transitional regime allowing to extend the maximal duration of the temporary unemployment from 16 weeks to 24 weeks of total suspension of the employment agreement or from 26 to 32 weeks of reduction of the working time.
A compensation of 5,63€ per entire day of temporary unemployment for economic condition must be paid by the employer in addition to unemployment benefits paid by the National Employment Office.
Neutralization of corona time-credit and corona parental leave when assessing entitlement to general time-credit
The National Labor Council also concluded Collective Bargaining Agreement nr 103/5 with a view to neutralize the impact of corona time-credit and corona parental leave when calculating the period occupation required for an entitlement to “general” time-credit under Collective Bargaining Agreement nr. 103.
Recommendations of the National Labor Council to equate the days of temporary “corona” unemployment to days worked for the entitlement of vacation pay
In addition to the two abovementioned Collective Bargaining Agreements, the National Labor Council also addressed an opinion to the Belgian government to recommend that days of temporary unemployment for force majeure until December 31st 2020 are equated to days worked for the calculation of the employee’s entitlement to vacation days and vacation pay next vacation year. This represents an extension of the already existing assimilation .
To alleviate the burden placed on the employers facing rising costs in 2021 as a result of this extension, the National Labor Council suggests that, subject to conditions, the companies most affected by the sanitary measures imposed by the government should be entitled to a compensation in the form of a partial or total exemption of social security contribution and withholding tax applicable on the vacation pay.
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 Collective Bargaining Agreement nr. 148 of October 7th, 2020
 Collective Bargaining Agreement nr. 103/5 of October 7th, 2020
 Opinion nr. 2.179 of October 7th, 2020.
 Royal Decree of June 4th 2020 for the period between February 1st 2020 and June 30th 2020 and Royal Decree of September 13th 2020 for the period between July 1st 2020 and August 31st 2020