In order to maintain easier access to temporary unemployment for economic reasons for non-manual workers, the National Labour Council has concluded collective labour agreement (CLA) No. 159.
This agreement extends CLA No. 148, which is in force until 31 December 2021.
CLA No. 159 has been concluded for a fixed term from 1 January 2022 to 30 June 2023.
What is the purpose of CLA No. 159?
When a company wishes to make use of the system of temporary unemployment due to lack of work for economic reasons for its non-manual workers, it must among others be bound by a CLA (in the sector or company) or by a company plan.
If it does not meet this condition, the company can now invoke CLA No. 159 to introduce economic unemployment for non-manual workers.
We will now take a closer look at CLA No. 159.
CLA No. 159 can be invoked:
- on the one hand, by the company in difficulty which is bound neither by a CLA in the sector, nor by a CLA in the company, nor by a company plan approved by the 'company plans' committee, establishing a scheme of complete suspension of the performance of the employment contract and/or a partial employment scheme due to lack of work for economic reasons for non-manual workers;
- and, on the other hand, by the company in difficulty whose company plan has been submitted but has not yet been approved by the 'company plans' committee.
As a reminder, a company in difficulty is a company that is confronted with one of the following situations:
- the company (in the sense of legal entity) is faced with a substantial decrease of at least 10% in turnover, production or orders in one of the four quarters preceding the application for the introduction of economic unemployment, compared to the same quarter of one of the two calendar years preceding the application;
- in the quarter preceding the quarter in which form C106A is sent, the company (in the sense of technical business unit, legal entity or establishment unit), has a number of days of economic unemployment for its manual workers of at least 10% of the total number of days (manual and non-manual workers) declared to the NSSO;
- the Minister of Employment has recognized that the company is in difficulty on the basis of unforeseen circumstances that have led to a substantial decline in turnover, production or number of orders in the short term
- CLA No. 159 does not affect existing CLA’s (in the sector/company) in this area and company plans approved by the 'company plans' committee.
- For sectors of activity and companies that have not made any provisions, the possibility of drawing up a CLA or company plan remains.
Maintaining the maximum allowed duration
CLA No. 159 does not change the maximum allowed duration of economic unemployment.
As a reminder, the maximum duration of economic unemployment per calendar year is set:
- to 16 calendar weeks in the case of complete suspension of the employment contract;
- to 26 calendar weeks in the case of a reduced working time scheme with at least two working days/week.
Important note! The start and end dates of the period of economic unemployment must fall during the period of validity of CLA No. 159.
Maintaining prior formalities
CLA No. 159 does not change the formalities to be completed by the employer before the non-manual workers are placed on economic unemployment.
As a reminder, the employer must among others:
- send form C106A to the ONEm/RVA no later than 14 days before the first notification 'suspension of non-manual workers due to lack of work' (i.e. at least 14 days before the prior notification);
- send a copy of this notification to the works council or, failing this, to the trade union delegation on the day it is sent;
- inform the non-manual workers, by posting on the premises of the company or by individual written notification of the introduction of economic unemployment, at least 7 days before the planned first day of economic unemployment;
- send the notice of the posting or individual notification to the ONEm/RVA on the same day as the posting or notification (= prior notification);
- communicate the economic reasons justifying the introduction of temporary unemployment to the works council or, failing that, to the trade union delegation, on the day of the posting or individual notification;
- communicate the first actual day of economic unemployment of the month to the ONEm/RVA and this (in principle) on the first day of unemployment.
Supplement to be paid by the employer
An employer who invokes CLA No. 159 is liable to pay the non-manual worker placed on economic unemployment a supplement of €5.74 per day of unemployment.
Important note! This supplement shall be at least equivalent to:
- the supplement granted to manual workers of the same employer and/or from the joint committee to which the employer belongs, who receive unemployment benefits for temporary unemployment due to economic reasons and who are employed in the same company, or
- in the absence of such manual workers, the supplement provided for by the joint committee to which the company would belong to if it employed manual workers.
Source: CLA No. 159 of 15 July 2021 establishing a scheme of complete suspension of the performance of the employment contract and/or a partial employment scheme due to lack of work for economic reasons for non-manual workers due to the socio-economic situation as a result of the coronavirus crisis, www.cnt-nar.be.