Economic unemployment “energy”: rules until 31 December 2022

Author: Catherine Mairy (Legal expert)
Date:

Following a government decision, a system of temporary economic unemployment “energy” is introduced from 1 October 2022 to help energy-intensive companies.

This special regime is applicable until 31 December 2022 inclusive.

The ONEm/RVA provides further clarification in its instructions.

Below we give a summary of these instruction.

Please note! Temporary economic unemployment “energy” (= special regime) should not be confused with temporary economic unemployment which the employer can resort to when it is temporarily impossible to maintain the existing work rhythm in the company due to economic reasons. This type of unemployment remains in effect where applicable and, as a reminder, has certain relaxations until 31 December 2022.

Companies concerned

The “energy” unemployment can only be introduced in energy-intensive companies and this for both manual workers and non-manual workers.

For this purpose, 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 

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.

Full or partial suspension

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

  • a system of total suspension of the employment contract; in this case, the maximum duration of the “energy” unemployment is set at 4 weeks;
  • and a reduced working time regime with less than 3 days of work per week or less than 1 week of work over 2 weeks; in this case, the maximum duration of “energy” unemployment is set at 3 months.

When the maximum duration is reached (4 weeks or 3 months), a new suspension regime can be introduced immediately and without interruption (in other words, the employer does not have to reinstate a mandatory work week first).

Formal conditions for the employer

An employer who uses “energy” unemployment must:

  • introduce the C106A-ENERGY form (= new form):
    • by registered mail or electronically,
    • to the competent ONEm/RVA office,
    • at least 5 days before the prior communication;

Note - Documents should not be attached to the C106A-ENERGY form, but they must be available to the ONEm/RVA in the event of an audit.

  • send the prior communication to the ONEm/RVA at least 3 calendar days before the 1st day of unemployment(separate communication for manual and non-manual workers); however, the employer can already send the prior communication to the ONEm/RVA as soon as he has received the acknowledgement of receipt of the submission of form C106A-ENERGY from the ONEm/RVA;

Note - If the employer wishes to switch to the “energy” unemployment system while still having outstanding economic unemployment communications on 1 October 2022, the employer is required to send a new prior communication for the “energy unemployment.

  • inform the workers of the introduction of unemployment at least 3 calendar days before the 1st day of unemployment, by means of a posted notice or an individual notification containing the following information:
    • the names, surnames and NISS of the unemployed workers or the section of the company whose activity will be suspended;
    • the number of days of unemployment and the dates on which each worker will be unemployed; 
    • the start and end date of the suspension period;
    • the engagement by the employer not to subcontract to third parties the work that should have been done by the workers during the period of unemployment;
  • within the same period of time (= at least 3 calendar days before the 1st day of unemployment), inform the works council or, failing that, the trade union delegation of the economic reasons that justify the unemployment;
  • inform the ONEm/RVA of the 1st day of actual unemployment in the month (in principle, the 1st day of unemployment);
  • make a social risk declaration (DRS/ASR) scenario 5 at the end of the month (code 5.1).

 

On the other hand, an employer who uses “energy” unemployment must not:

  • make a DRS/ASR scenario 2;
  • issue a C3.2A control form to the unemployed worker;
  • complete the validation book.

Worker's compensation

The unemployed worker will receive:

  • an unemployment benefit equal to 70% of the capped salary (EUR 3,075.04 per month);
  • and a supplement amounting to EUR 6.22 per day of unemployment:
    • this supplement is payable by the employer unless it is paid (in whole or in part) by a sector fund;
    • this supplement may in no case be less than the amount of the supplement granted in the event of economic unemployment (traditional scheme).

Final remarks

  • The “energy” unemployment is assimilated to the temporary unemployment schemes in case of lack of work resulting from economic causes (Law of 3 July 1978 on employment contracts) with regard to all the rights of the workers resulting from the application of these temporary unemployment schemes in case of lack of work resulting from economic causes.
  • If an employer dismisses a worker by means of a notice before or during the period of “energy” unemployment, the notice period does not run during that period. 
  • On the other hand, if the worker resigns and performs a notice before or during the period of “energy” unemployment, the notice period will run during that period. 

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.

Source www.onem.be.

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