Relaxed economic unemployment 'manual workers': duration?

Author: Catherine Mairy (Legal expert)
Date:

Under certain conditions, companies may, under the (relaxed) transitional regime, make their manual workers temporarily unemployed due to lack of work for economic reasons.

This transitional regime enters into force on 1 September 2020 and will cease to have effect on 31 December 2020. It is provided for by Royal Decree No. 46.

The maximum duration of unemployment for manual workers is increased in this context:

  • in the event of complete suspension of the employment contract (complete cessation of work), the maximum allowed duration is set at 8 weeks (instead of normally 4 weeks);
  • in the case of a reduced working time scheme 'major suspension' (either less than 3 working days/week or less than one working week per 2 weeks with at least 2 working days), the maximum allowed duration is set at 18 weeks (instead of normally 3 months).

For more information on this subject, we refer to our Infoflash of 9 July 2020.

Periods of temporary unemployment that are longer or shorter than those laid down in Royal Decree No. 46 may nevertheless be provided for at sectoral level (sectoral derogation scheme).

The National Employment Office (ONEm/RVA) specifies in its information sheet E2 of 14 August 2020 how the maximum authorised duration should be determined in such a case:

  • if the sectoral derogation scheme provides for longer periods than those laid down in Royal Decree No. 46, these longer periods must be applied;
  • if the sectoral derogation scheme provides for shorter periods than those laid down in Royal Decree No. 46, the longer periods laid down in Royal Decree No. 46 must be applied. If the employer receives a warning message when notifying the planned unemployment (the maximum duration laid down for his joint committee having been exceeded), he may exceptionally ignore it; the notification will be accepted when the requested periods do not exceed the maximum duration set by Royal Decree No. 46.

Source: Info sheet E2, www.onem.be.

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