On 1 July 2020, Royal Decree No. 46 of 26 June 2020 introduced a new measure for companies recognised as being in restructuring or in difficulty: the corona time credit.
For which employers?
The corona time credit is introduced for private sector employers whose company has been recognised by the Minister of Labour as being in restructuring or in difficulty. This recognition is given in accordance with the criteria laid down in the regulations on unemployment with company allowance, but without the need for a collective labour agreement.
In the context of the corona time credit, this recognition must take place on 1 March 2020 at the earliest and on 31 December 2020 at the latest.
What is it about?
The employer may propose to each full-time employee to reduce his working hours by 1/5 or to a half-time job for a period not shorter than one month and not exceeding six months. It should be noted that for the reduction of working hours to a half-time job, an employee is considered to be a full-time employee if he is employed on a working hours basis at least equal to ¾ of a full-time job in the company.
The period of reduction of working hours must lie entirely within the period of recognition as a company in restructuring or in difficulty. This period of recognition must begin before 1 January 2021.
Important! The period of reduction of working hours under the corona time credit is not deducted from the maximum duration of the ordinary time credit to which the employee is entitled.
In the regulation, there are no rules on the procedure to be followed by the employer to propose corona time credit to the employee. The same applies to the procedure to be followed by the employee to reply to the employer. However, in order to avoid discussions, it is advisable to formalise the employer's proposal and the employee's reply in writing.
If the employee agrees, the parties must conclude a written agreement on the temporary reduction of working hours no later than the day on which the corona time credit starts (in accordance with Article 11bis of the Act of 3 July 1978).
Good to know! This agreement may be renewed without exceeding the maximum period of six months. It is not necessary for this renewed period to immediately follow the previous period.
Entitlement to a benefit
During the period of reduction of his working hours under the corona time credit, the employee is entitled to a benefit payable by the National Employment Office ONEm/RVA. The amount of this benefit shall be equal to the amount granted in the case of ordinary time credit.
Important note! If the employer grants an additional allowance, the sum of the gross wage, of the allowance payable by the ONEm/RVA, of any supplement to this allowance on the basis of a regional regulation and of the additional allowance granted by the employer may not exceed the gross wage to which the employee was entitled before the introduction of the temporary reduction of working hours. In this respect, no account shall be taken of the adjustment of wages to the index and pay scale increases.
Benefit application procedure
The corona time credit benefit must be applied for using the form 'C61-crédit-temps corona' (an online application is not possible).
The employee completes part 1, the employer completes part 2.
The employee must send the form, duly completed, signed and accompanied by a copy of the recognition of the company as being in restructuring or in difficulty, by registered letter to the local office of the ONEm/RVA on which he depends.
The application must be made no later than 2 months after the start date of the corona time credit.
What if the employer terminates the contract during the corona time credit?
The wage to be taken into account in the event of dismissal with payment of severance pay during the corona time credit is the wage to which the employee was entitled before the reduction of working hours.
Date of entry into force
This measure became effective on 1 July 2020.
Sources: Royal Decree No. 46 of 26 June 2020 implementing Article 5, § 1, 5° of the Act of 27 March 2020 authorising the King to take measures in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19 (II) to support the employers and the employees, Belgian Official Gazette of 1 July 2020; ONEm/RVA.