Support measure for the travel sector extended for the third quarter of 2021

Author: Els Poelman (Legal Expert)
Date:

The contribution reduction for the travel sector is extended by a quarter, but employment must also be maintained for an additional quarter.  

Which employers?

This concerns employers in the travel sector who simultaneously meet the following conditions:  

  • Their main activity is 'travel agency activities' (NACE code 79110) or 'tour operator activities' (NACE code 79120)
  • During the period with contribution reduction (which runs now up to and including the 3rd quarter 2021), the company is insured against insolvency in accordance with the law of 21.11.2017 in Belgium or in another European country.

Contribution reduction extended to five quarters

The support measure for the travel sector already ran over four quarters, until the 2nd quarter 2021: see our Infoflash of 7 April 2021.

Due to the ongoing economic problems and the summer period being essential for the recovery in this sector, the 3rd quarter 2021 will be added to the period with government support. The measure now extends over five quarters and covers two types of contribution reduction:

1.

A refund of the net employer’s contributions of the 2nd quarter 2020, the 4th quarter 2020 and the 1st quarter 2021

The ‘net employer’s contributions’ are the basic employer contribution (25.00% in the profit sector), less the structural reduction and any target group reductions applied. The NSSO allocates the net employer’s contributions for the exempted quarters to the employer accounts of the 1st and/or 2nd quarter 2021.

2.

A specific target group reduction in the 2nd and/or 3rd quarter 2021

This reduction results in the employer's contributions amounting to 25.00% (= the basic contribution) being exempted.

The full reduction over five quarters is reserved for employers who submitted their online application by 30 June 2021. Online applications submitted after 30 June will entitle to a reduction for one quarter i.e. the 3rd quarter 2021. More information is provided below.

Timing for the online application and associated reduction

Employers wishing to obtain the reduction must submit an application via the secure application on the NSSO portal site. An application approved by the NSSO is an absolute condition to obtain the reductions: online application travel sector

The deadline for this online application has been extended until 30 September 2021. 

Employers who had their online application registered by 30 June 2021 are entitled to the full reduction for all five quarters. The additional target group reduction for the 3rd quarter 2021 is linked to the initial application and no further application is required.

Employers who register their application online between 1 July and 30 September 2021 are only entitled to the target group reduction for the 3rd quarter 2021.

Additional conditions: maintenance and extension of the prohibition on dismissal

In order to qualify for this support measure, the employer must simultaneously meet the following additional conditions:

  1. Undertake to keep all employees continuously employed between 1 April and 30 September 2021, except if the employee resigns or is dismissed for serious misconduct.

Please note:

As a result of this extension, the prohibition on dismissal now covers the entire period between 1 April and 30 September. Employers who are already benefiting from the support measure (online application made by 30 June at the latest) must continue to comply with the prohibition on dismissal until 30 September (instead of 30 June) if they wish to maintain the reduction for each of the five quarters.

FURTHERMORE: MAINTENANCE OF EMPLOYMENT VOLUME IN THE 2ND AND 3RD QUARTER 2021

During the quarters in which the target group reduction is applied, the employment volume may not be lower than in the first quarter of 2021, based on the global employment fraction (global µglob) of the dmfa for the quarters concerned. The evaluation is done for each quarter separately:

  • for the target group reduction 2nd quarter 2021, the employment volume in the 2nd quarter 2021 must be at least equal to the employment volume in the 1st quarter 2021
  • for the target group reduction 3rd quarter 2021, the employment volume in the 3rd quarter 2021 must be at least equal to the employment volume in the 1st quarter 2021
  1. Make a specific and individual training offer to all employees, both those in temporary unemployment and those employed. The offer must correspond to at least 20% of the contractual working time in the 1st and 2nd quarters 2021, and the training courses must have been actually followed by 31 December 2021.
  2. Do not implement any of the following actions in 2021:
  • payment of dividends to shareholders
  • payment of bonuses to members of the Board of Directors and the company's management
  • purchase of own shares.
  1. Inform the works council (in the absence thereof, in decreasing order, the trade union delegation or the employees themselves) about the application of the measures in the company and the conditions to be complied with, in particular with regard to the training offer. The regulations also refer to consultation with the employees (and employees’ representatives): in practice this concerns the organisation of the training.

Monitoring of additional conditions and consequences

Compliance with the conditions is a commitment in the online application - for the first condition (staff retention), it is even a formal commitment.

The NSSO will automatically monitor the maintenance of the employment volume (part of condition 1). The comparison will be made at a later date, when the dmfa for the 2nd quarter and the 3rd quarter of 2021 are stable in the social security network.

The rest of the additional conditions cannot be monitored automatically when the dmfa is registered. The NSSO can/will conduct ad hoc monitoring a posteriori, possibly based on data mining.

If at least one of the four additional conditions is not complied with, the entitlement to all reductions lapses for the entire period of application, possibly retroactively.

 

Source:

  • Draft law on temporary aid measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chamber doc. 2070/001 - subject to publication in the Belgian Official Gazette
  • Message on the NSSO portal site

 

 

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