Coronavirus: when is teleworking mandatory?

Author: Catherine Mairy (Legal Expert)
Date:

Teleworking is one of the measures decided by the National Security Council on Tuesday 17 March 2020 to combat coronavirus spread, as does the mandatory closure of certain companies (e.g. restaurants). Does this mean that teleworking is mandatory?The answer depends on whether or not the company is part of the crucial sectors and essential services.

Company of the crucial sectors and essential services

Teleworking is not mandatory:

  • nor in companies of the crucial sectors;
  • nor in essential services.

This is the list of the companies and services concerned (from page 6).

In practice, this means that if your company is included in the list above, you are not obliged to make use of teleworking.

However, you must, as far as possible, put it in place as well as apply the rules of social distancing (a distance of at least 1.5 metres between each person). In our opinion, this will be an assessment to be made taking into account the specific elements of the company's situation.

Non-essential company

Teleworking is mandatory in non-essential companies, i.e. companies not included in the above-mentioned list.

In practice, this means that if your company is considered non-essential (regardless of its size), the following measures apply:

  • you must put in place teleworking for all employees whose position is suited to teleworking;
  • you must continue to employ employees whose positions are not suited to teleworking, in accordance with the "usual" arrangements. However, you must take the necessary measures to ensure compliance with the rules of social distancing (a distance of at least 1.5 metres between each person). This rule also applies to transport organised by the employer.

If you are unable to comply with all these measures, you must close your company. In our opinion, this impossibility will be assessed taking into account the specific elements of the company's situation.

In the event of closure, you can invoke temporary unemployment due to force majeure.

Please note! The company will also be closed if, despite an initial police report, it still does not comply with the rules of social distancing.

Refer to the website of the ONEm/RVA for more detailed information.

Source: Ministerial Decree of 23 March 2020 on urgent measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus COVID - 19, Belgian Official Gazette of 23 March 2020.

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