Returning from a business trip in a red zone: compulsory quarantine?

Author: Catherine Legardien (Legal Expert)
Date:

Employees returning from a business trip in a red zone certified by their employer may be exempted from quarantine if a check of the ‘Passenger Locator Form’ and the self-assessment questionnaire indicates that it is not a risk trip.

This potential exemption from quarantine is one of the exceptions to the rule according to which, since 31 December 2020, any person returning to Belgium after a stay of at least 48 hours in the red zone is considered as a "high-risk contact" and must therefore be placed in quarantine (see our Infoflash ‘No temporary unemployment due to corona for quarantined employees returning from a red zone!’).

Professional reasons certified by the employer

If the employee makes a business trip abroad for more than 48 hours, the employer must complete the ‘Business Travel Abroad (BTA)’ certificate before the employee's departure abroad.

This certificate will generate a 10-digit code (‘business trip certificate number’), which must be communicated to the worker.

What must the employee do when he returns from abroad?

On his return to Belgium after a stay abroad, the employee must complete the ‘Passenger Locator Form’ within 48 hours before his arrival in Belgium, in the following two situations:

  • if he return to Belgium by plane or boat,
  • in any case, if he has stayed abroad for more than 48 hours.

On this form, he must indicate that he has travelled for business reasons and mention the ‘business trip certificate number’ that the employer has communicated to him.

He must also complete a self-assessment questionnaire on the conditions of his travel and/or stay abroad.

High-risk contact?

The ‘Passenger Locator Form’ and the self-assessment questionnaire will be checked to determine whether or not the worker is considered a "high-risk contact".

The fact that it is a stay abroad for professional reasons certified by the employer via the ‘Business Travel Abroad’ (BTA) does not automatically mean that the employee should not be considered as a high-risk contact.

The assessment parameters of the Passenger Locator Form and the self-assessment questionnaire are simply less stringent for business travel.

Quarantine?

If, as a result of this assessment, the employee is considered a ‘high-risk contact’, he will have to observe a quarantine period.

In this case, he must inform his employer immediately. If the employer requests so, the employee must also submit a quarantine certificate.

If the quarantined employee is able to perform his work by working from home for example, he will continue to receive his normal remuneration at the expense of the employer.

If, on the other hand, the employee worker is unable to carry out his work due to quarantine, he can, in principle, claim temporary unemployment benefits due to force majeure ‘covid-19’. The ONEm nevertheless reserves the right to check whether the employer has not acted in a manifestly unreasonable manner in sending his employee abroad. This is a question of fact.

If the employee is not considered a ‘high-risk contact’, he will be exempted from a quarantine period.

Important note! In any case, the employee will have to be tested on the 1st day and the 7th day of his return to Belgium. If a quarantine period must be observed, it will only be raised if the test result on the 7th day is negative.

Sources: FPS Foreign Affairs; https://www.info-coronavirus.be; https://bta.belgium.be.

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