Temporary unemployment corona / war in Ukraine: what to do if these schemes no longer apply from 1 July?

Author: Catherine Mairy (Legal expert)
Date:

If the temporary unemployment schemes ‘corona’ and ‘war in Ukraine’ are not extended beyond 30 June 2022, companies, where appropriate, will be able to resort to temporary unemployment due to lack of work for economic reasons.

Important note! The press announced on the evening of 1 June that the government would have decided not to extend the simplified procedure for temporary unemployment beyond 30 June 2022. We will update you as soon as the government confirms its decision and we have more details on its impact.

A temporary unemployment scheme for economic reasons can only be introduced in compliance with the general (traditional) rules governing this type of unemployment.

In concrete terms this means:

  • on the one hand, that it must be temporarily impossible for the employer to maintain the existing work rhythm in the company due to economic factors;
  • and, on the other hand, that certain conditions and formalities must be observed.

A brief reminder of those rules.

Economic unemployment for manual workers

Maximum duration

The employer can choose between:

  • a scheme of complete suspension of the employment contract, in which case the maximum duration of economic unemployment is set at 4 weeks;
  • and a reduced working time scheme; the maximum duration of economic unemployment is set at 3 months and 12 months respectively, depending on whether a 'major suspension' or a 'minor suspension' is involved.

At sectoral level, longer or shorter periods of temporary unemployment may be provided for.

Conditions and formalities

The employer will always be obliged (where appropriate, in the required forms and by the required time):

  • not to place a manual worker who is entitled to certain days of compensatory rest on economic unemployment;
  • not to outsource to third parties the work that should normally have been carried out by the manual workers during unemployment;
  • to make the required notifications and communications to the manual workers, the works council/trade union delegation and the ONEm/RVA;
  • to issue a C3.2A control form to every manual worker placed on economic unemployment;
  • to complete the validation book;
  • to submit a social risk declaration- (DRS/ASR) scenario 2 and -scenario 5;
  • to pay to the manual worker placed on economic unemployment a supplement on top of the unemployment benefits (unless there are derogations);
  • to reintroduce, at the expiry of the maximum allowed duration, the scheme of full employment for a full week, before a new complete or partial suspension can take effect;
  • etc.

Reminder! The first formalities (communications to the manual workers, the works council/trade union delegation and the ONEm/RVA) must be completed at least 7 days before the 1st planned day of unemployment.

Economic unemployment for non-manual workers

Companies concerned

When a company in difficulties 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 collective labour agreement (in the sector or company) or by a company plan.

If it does not meet this condition, the company in difficulties may invoke collective labour agreement (CLA) No 159 (valid from 1 January 2022 until 30 June 2023).

Maximum duration

The employer can choose between:

  • a scheme of complete suspension of the employment contract, in which case the maximum duration of economic unemployment is set at 16 calendar weeks per calendar year;
  • and a reduced working time scheme with at least two working days per week; in this case, the maximum duration of economic unemployment is set at 26 calendar weeks per calendar year.

Conditions and formalities

The employer will always be obliged (where appropriate, in the required forms and by the required time):

  • not to place a non-manual worker who is entitled to certain days of compensatory rest on economic unemployment;
  • not to outsource to third parties the work that should normally have been carried out by the non-manual workers during unemployment;
  • to send form C106A to the ONEm/RVA;
  • to make the required notifications and communications to the non-manual workers, the works council/trade union delegation and the ONEm/RVA;
  • to issue a C3.2A control form to every non-manual worker placed on economic unemployment;
  • to complete the validation book;
  • to submit a social risk declaration- (DRS/ASR) scenario 2 and - scenario 5;
  • to pay to the non-manual worker placed on economic unemployment the supplement on top of the unemployment benefits (unless there are derogations);
  • etc.

Reminder! The first formality (sending the C106A form to the ONEm/RVA) must be completed at least 14 days before the prior notification to the ONEm/RVA, which must be made at least 7 days before the first planned day of unemployment.

Recommendation

If you wish to introduce a temporary unemployment scheme for economic reasons in your company, we advise you not to delay in taking the necessary steps, particularly in view of certain deadlines. 

If the ‘transition’ from one system to the other (from unemployment ‘corona’ or ‘war in Ukraine’ to economic unemployment) is subject to specific procedures that will be specified later, we will certainly keep you informed.

Do you have any questions about the introduction of economic unemployment in your company? Please contact our Legal Partners via legalpartners@partena.be.

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