Coronavirus: what changes for teleworking following the last Consultative Committee?

Author: Catherine Mairy (Legal Expert)
Date:

The Consultative Committee of 4 June 2021 confirmed that teleworking from home remains mandatory, although return to work moments can be provided for from 9 June 2021.

A Ministerial Decree of 4 June 2021 sets out the terms and conditions for these return moments. Clarifications are also provided on the monthly teleworking declaration.

Teleworking mandatory 

Teleworking from home is mandatory:

  • in all companies, all associations and all services (including commerce, private and public businesses and services necessary to protect the vital needs of the Nation and the needs of the people);
  • for all persons employed by them, regardless of the nature of their employment relationship;

unless this is impossible due to the nature of the position, or the continuity of the business, the activities or the services.

Reminder! The employer must provide persons working in his establishment unit(s), regardless of the nature of their employment relationship, who cannot telework from home with a certificate or any other proof confirming the necessity of their presence at the workplace.

Return moments possible

Return to work moments may be planned from 9 June 2021 for persons for whom teleworking is mandatory, if the following conditions are met:

  • the purpose of these return moments is to promote the psychosocial well-being and team spirit of these persons;
  • the persons cannot be obliged to participate in the return moments; in other words, regardless of the nature of their employment relationship, the return moments require a mutual agreement between them and the company, association or service with which they are employed;
  • the appropriate precautionary measures should be taken to ensure maximum compliance with the rules of social distancing;
  • the persons must be given prior instructions on all measures to be taken to ensure their safe return;
  • travel to and from work during peak hours by public transport or carpooling should be avoided as much as possible;
  • the persons must be informed that under no circumstances should they return to the workplace if they feel ill, show symptoms of illness or are in quarantine;
  • the employer may not attach any consequence to this for his employees.

The decision to organise return moments must be made in accordance with the social dialogue rules in the company, and all the conditions must be checked.

The return moments may amount to a maximum of one working day per week per person. The following may be present in the establishment unit at the same time each day:  

  • maximum 20% of the persons for whom teleworking is mandatory;
  • maximum 5 persons for whom teleworking is mandatory in SMEs with less than 10 persons.

Monthly teleworking declaration

Employers will need to continue to declare, on a monthly basis, the persons present in the workplace on www.socialsecurity.be.

However, from the declaration for July 2021 onwards, this obligation will no longer apply to:

  • SMEs employing less than five persons, regardless of the nature of their employment relationship;
  • employers in the construction, cleaning and meat sectors for their employees who fall under the application of the mandatory registration of attendance (art. 31bis to 31octies of the Act of 4 August 1996 on the well-being of workers in the performance of their work, art. 4 to 11 of the Programme Act of 10 August 2015 and their implementing decrees);
  • the establishments referred to in article 2, 1°, of the Cooperation Agreement of 16 February 2016 between the Federal State, the Flemish Region, the Walloon Region and the Brussels-Capital Region on the control of major accident hazards involving dangerous substances (which was approved by the Act of 1 April 2016);
  • the employers in the health care sector (art. 40 of the Act of 20 December 2020 on temporary support measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic);
  • all educational institutions, both for the staff paid by the organising authorities themselves and declared to the NSSO and for the staff paid via a Community Ministry and declared to the NSSO. Important note! This exception does not apply to universities, private schools and other training institutions that pay the wages of all staff themselves.

Reminder!

  • The declaration relates to the situation on the first working day of the month and must be submitted at the latest on the sixth calendar day of the month.
  • If the total number of persons employed in the establishment unit and the number of persons who have a job there that is incompatible with teleworking has not changed since the last valid declaration, the employer is not required to submit a new declaration.

We will keep you updated as soon as we have more details.

Source: Ministerial Decree of 4 June 2021 amending the Ministerial Decree of 28 October 2020 on urgent measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, Belgian Official Gazette of 4 June 2021.

 

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