Economic unemployment "energy": extension of the system until 31 March 2023

Author: Catherine Mairy (Legal Expert)
Date:

The scheme of temporary economic unemployment “energy”, initially scheduled to run until 31 December 2022, is extended until 31 March 2023.

We remind that this is a special scheme introduced to help energy-intensive companies.

Further clarification is provided by the ONEm/RVA and a law of 30 October 2022.

Below we give a summary.

Energy-intensive company (in the sense of legal entity)

We remind that the employer must be able to demonstrate:

  • that the purchase of energy products (including energy products other than natural gas and electricity) represents at least 3% of the company's added value for the 2021 calendar year;

Please note! The ONEm/RVA specifies that the concept of added value is the difference (on the basis of the annual accounts) between:

    • the total amount of turnover plus other operating revenues, production in inventory and fixed assets produced (excluding operating subsidies and compensatory amounts);
  • and the total amount of the purchase of commercial goods, raw and auxiliary materials, plus the purchase of services and miscellaneous goods.

or

  • that, for the quarter preceding the quarter in which he resorts to “energy” unemployment, the final energy bill has doubled compared to the final energy bill for the same quarter of the previous year.

Please note! The 30 October 2022 law specifies that if the company was not yet established in the same quarter of the previous year, the employer may prove that its final energy bill doubled compared to the energy bill the company would have paid in that quarter based on then-current energy prices.

The C106A-ENERGY form has been adapted for this purpose.

Note - These criteria may be deviated from:

  • for companies belonging to the non-profit sector (= companies falling under article 1 of the Royal Decree of 18 July 2002 on measures promoting employment in the non-profit sector),
  • by ministerial decree (after advice of the management committee of the ONEm/RVA or the National Labour Council).

Maximum duration

An employer who uses “energy” unemployment can choose between:

  • a scheme of total suspension of the employment contract for a maximum of 4 weeks;
  • and a reduced work scheme for a maximum of 3 months.

The ONEm/RVA clarifies:

  • on the one hand, that this maximum duration is applicable even if the company belongs to a joint committee for which a Royal Decree provides for a longer maximum duration of economic unemployment;
  • and, on the other hand, that for non-manual workers, the number of weeks of economic unemployment (16 or 26 weeks) is not taken into account.

Undue temporary unemployment benefits: recovery

Undue payment of temporary unemployment benefits occurs when an employer wrongly claims “energy” unemployment as a reason for not providing work to a worker.

The law of 30 October 2022 allows the ONEm/RVA, during the period from 1 October 2022 to 31 March 2023 (a period that can be extended by royal decree), to claim back from the employer rather than from the worker the benefits unduly paid to the latter.

The procedure goes as follows:

  • the employer must pay the worker concerned the normal salary for the days during which the performance of the employment contract was not suspended due to “energy” unemployment;
  • the ONEm/RVA has the possibility of recovering from the employer the gross amounts that it has wrongly paid to the worker;
  • the employer may deduct from the net salary due to the worker the net amount of the allowances he must pay to the ONEm/RVA.

Do you have questions about the introduction of “energy” unemployment in your company? Do not hesitate to contact our Legal Partners via legalpartners@partena.be.

Sources: www.onem.be; Law of 30 October 2022 on temporary support measures following the energy crisis, Belgian Official Gazette of 3 November 2022.

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