A seasonal worker can work a certain number of days per year for several employers in the agriculture and horticulture sector.
In the context of the Covid-19 crisis, the government has doubled the number of days as a seasonal worker. We have already reported this in our Infoflash of 30 March 2020.
Other measures are now being taken, including the extension of the 35 additional days in the fruit-growing sector and the relaxation of the 180-day rule.
35 extra days for the fruit-growing sector
The principle was accepted that the fruit-growing sector can also make use of the application of the 35 extra days on top of the 65 days of occasional work.
This would allow workers to work 100 days per calendar year in the occasional work system.
In practice, these additional 35 days will not yet apply for 2020, but will probably apply for 2021, following a new legislative amendment.
Doubling of the quotas
We have already informed you about the doubling of the quota in our Infoflash of 30 March 2020 for the horticultural and agricultural sector.
The quota for the fruit-growing sector will also be doubled for the year 2020, but in practice this will be limited to the 65 days being increased to 130 days.
A worker cannot be employed as an occasional worker if he has worked in the agricultural or horticultural sector during the previous 180 days under a status other than the status of occasional worker.
From 1 April 2020, this rule will be relaxed. The 180 days will not have to be observed at sector level, but at company level, so that the employer is no longer dependent on external factors.
The NSSO stipulates that 'the same company' is understood to mean all legal entities that are managed by the same administrators and/or managers or that belong to the same technical business unit. By derogation:
- employment which takes place under a fixed-term contract or for clearly defined work of a maximum of 6 consecutive calendar weeks is not taken into account
- and the 180-day rule does not apply to a worker who, at the end of his contract of employment, wishes to work as an occasional worker in the same company at the statutory retirement age.
Entry into force
These measures enter into force on 1 March 2020, with the exception of the 180-day rule, which enters into force on 1 April 2020.
These measure will no longer be in force after 31 December 2020. A legislative amendment is expected to extend these measures.
- Royal Decree no. 5 of 9 April 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 safeguard a smooth work organisation in the critical sectors, Belgian Official Gazette, with a view to adapting certain rules applicable in the agriculture and horticulture sector, Belgian Official Gazette of 20.04.2020.
- Royal Decree no. 5 of 9 April 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 safeguard a smooth work organisation in the critical sectors, Belgian Official Gazette, with a view to adapting certain rules applicable in the agriculture and horticulture sector, Erratum, Belgian Official Gazette of 20.04.2020.