Because of the coronavirus epidemic in China, many companies have temporarily suspended their activities there.
As a result, there is a risk that some employees of Belgian companies that source their supplies from China will no longer be able to perform their work normally, as supplies are no longer assured.
These employees can, in principle, benefit from temporary unemployment benefits.
The Employment Minister, Nathalie Muylle, stated in a press release of 6 February 2020 that this temporary impossibility to employ certain employees can be qualified as force majeure.
The employer must submit a dossier to the appropriate unemployment office of the company's place of business containing evidence of force majeure and the existence of a link between the coronavirus and force majeure.
In certain circumstances and under certain conditions, it is also possible to invoke temporary unemployment due to economic reasons (e.g. when the company's client portfolio is declining).
The formalities to be completed for this purpose are described on the website of the National Employment Office.
More info on the website of the FPS Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue : "Coronavirus : mesures de prévention et conséquences sur le plan du droit du travail".
Source: press release by N. Muylle of 6 February 2020.