Coronavirus: the unemployed, freeze and vital sectors

Author: Anne Ghysels (Legal Expert)

As we explained in our Infoflash of 7 May 2020, the government has taken various measures to be able to employ as many people as possible in the vital sectors.

Two other measures concern the unemployed.

Resumption of work in vital sectors

Vital sectors currently include:

  • the agricultural sector (JC 144) if the employee is employed on the employer’s land;
  • the horticultural sector (JC 145), with the exception of planting and upkeep of parks and gardens;
  • forestry (JC 146);
  • the temporary agency sector if the employees are employed in the sectors mentioned above. 

This list may be completed at a later date.

When an employee who is temporarily unemployed in the context of the Covid-19 crisis temporarily resumes work with another employer in a vital sector, he will continue to receive his unemployment benefits, despite this employment, but up to 75 percent.

This arrangement only applies for the period from 1 April to 31 May 2020.

Freeze on decreasing unemployment benefits

The amount of unemployment benefits decreases over time.

The government has decided to put a freeze on decreasing unemployment benefits during the period from 1 April to 30 June 2020.

This measure concerns only the fully unemployed entitled to benefits. 

The situation of the fully unemployed on 1 April 2020 is extended by three months. The months of April, May and June 2020 are neutralised.

The freeze also applies to the determination of the reference period of 12 and 18 months to establish the entitlement to unemployment benefits for artists. If this reference period is at least partly in the period from 1 April to 30 June 2020, the period from 1 April to 30 June is not taken into account for the calculation of the 12 and 18 months.


Source: Royal Decree of 23 April 2020 temporarily relaxing the conditions under which the unemployed, with or without company supplement, can be employed in vital sectors and temporarily freezing decreasing full unemployment benefits, Belgian Official Gazette, 30 April 2020.


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