New mandatory closure for the hospitality sector

Author: Els Poelman (Legal Expert)
Date:

Last weekend, the federal government announced a new closure for the hospitality sector, along with a new package of corona aid measures.   

Closure and exceptions

Establishments belonging to the catering sector and other eating and drinking establishments are obliged to close from 19 October to 19 November 2020 (included), except for the offer and delivery of takeaway food and non-alcoholic beverages to be taken away until 10 p.m. at the latest.

The mandatory closure does not apply to:

  • the hotel sector (all forms of accommodation), including their restaurant but excluding their other premises for the consumption of drinks, and only for the guests staying there;
  • industrial kitchens for residential, school, living and working communities

The hospitality activities that are permitted must comply with all sanitary measures imposed on the hospitality sector.

Temporary unemployment for employees

Hospitality sector itself (JC 302)

The hospitality sector itself (JC 302) is one of the severely affected sectors that can continue to apply the flexible corona unemployment due to force majeure until 31 December 2020. Therefore, there was no need for a new measure: the employees can be made temporarily unemployed without extensive formalities, as it has been possible since March this year.

For the employer this means:

  • no prior notification to the ONEm/RVA
  • no application for benefits (Social Risk Declaration unemployment scenario 2)
  • no delivery of verification cards C.3.2A
  • only a monthly declaration of the days of temporary unemployment (Social Risk Declaration unemployment scenario 5) with code 'nature of the day' 5.4 and reason 'force majeure coronavirus’

For the employee this means:

  • single application for benefits via the C.3.2 - WORKER-CORONA
  • exemption from keeping a control card C.3.2A
  • unemployment benefit of 70% of the capped wage (EUR 2,754.76/month)
  • supplement from the ONEm/RVA of EUR 5.63/day
  • reduced withholding tax of 15% on the benefits
  • no admissibility condition, i.e. no occupational history to be demonstrated

What about suppliers that do not belong to JC 302?

Suppliers affected by the closure of the hospitality sector that do not belong to the hospitality sector themselves (JC302) cannot invoke the global scheme for severely affected sectors. If they wish to make their staff temporarily unemployed, they must act in accordance with one of the two possibilities:

  • Either the supplier himself is a severely affected company due to 20% temporary unemployment in the second quarter of 2020. The flexible corona unemployment (as described above) can be applied subject to prior C106A-corona-HGO application with the ONEm/RVA. Refer to our Infoflashes of 17 July 2020 and 31 July 2020.
  • Either the supplier himself is not an individually severely affected company because the company has less than 20% temporary unemployment in the second quarter of 2020. The procedure for economic unemployment/suspension of non-manual employees must be applied. Refer to our Infoflashes of 9 July 2020 and 31 July 2020.

New aid measures

The federal government has immediately announced a package of aid measures, such as:

  • doubling of the crisis bridging right for the self-employed;
  • exemption from employers' social security contributions for the third quarter of 2020;
  • government guarantee for the full end-of-year bonus- in the hospitality sector, temporary corona unemployment is treated as days worked for the calculation of the bonus, which leads to financing problems for individual hospitality employers

All these new measures still have to be put into a legislative framework and given practical effect.

It goes without saying that affected companies can continue to benefit from the general aid measures that already exist (e.g. deferral of payment of contributions to the National Social Security Office).

The new federal measures may be supplemented by new regional aid. The Flemish Government has already announced a new aid package, in the form of an adjusted compensation premium.

We will inform you as soon as these measures become more concrete.

 

Source:

  • Ministerial Decree of 18 October 2020 on urgent measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, Belgian Official Gazette of 18 October 2020
  • Various press releases

 

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