Coronavirus: temporary unemployment and public holiday

Author: Catherine Mairy (Legal Expert)
Date:

Many employees are temporarily unemployed due to force majeure Covid-19 until 19 April 2020. During this period of temporary unemployment, they receive temporary unemployment benefits. What about the holiday of 13 April 2020, Easter Monday, which falls in this period?

Rule

The employee retains the right to remuneration, payable by the employer, for the public holiday which falls in the period of 14 days following the start of the suspension of work due to the temporary consequences of a case of force majeure.

In practice

Two situations may occur:

Full suspension

When the performance of the employment contract is completely suspended in the context of temporary unemployment due to force majeure Covid-19, the employer must pay the remuneration for the public holiday which falls in the period of 14 days following the start of this suspension.

Partial suspension

When the performance of the employment contract is partially suspended in the context of temporary unemployment due to force majeure Covid-19, working days alternate with days of temporary unemployment.

In that case, the '14-day rule' must be applied for each new actual suspension, i.e. for each new day of temporary unemployment due to force majeure Covid-19 following a working day.

Remuneration for the public holiday which falls in this period of 14 days is payable by the employer.

Example - The employee is temporarily unemployed due to force majeure Covid-19 from Friday up to and including Tuesday, every week between 1 April 2020 and 19 April 2020. On the other hand, he does work Wednesdays and Thursdays. The employer will pay the public holiday of 13 April 2020.

To conclude

The calculation to determine whether or not the remuneration for the public holiday is payable by the employer may vary from employee to employee.

Moreover, the rules described above will also apply to public holidays falling in the months following April 2020 in the event of an extension of the government measures.

Source: Royal Decree of 18 April 1974 establishing the general manner of implementation of the law of 4 January 1974 on public holidays.