Since 13 April 2021 the employer is not obliged to pay certain employees wages for the working hours for half a working day when these are cancelled for an unforeseeable reason beyond the employer's control as a direct consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, provided that the employee receives temporary unemployment benefits for these cancelled working hours!
Which employees are concerned?
Following employees are concerned:
- employees employed under a 'service vouchers' employment contract (referred to in Article 7bis of the Law of 20 July 2001 promoting local services and jobs),
- employees whose main task is to transport pupils to and from schools.
Derogation from Article 27
The employer is not obliged to pay these employees wages for the working hours for half a working day when these are cancelled for an unforeseeable reason beyond the employer's control as a direct consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, provided that the employee is entitled to temporary unemployment.
This is a derogation to the principle (laid down in Article 27, § 1, 2°, of the Law of 3 July 1978 on employment contracts) according to which, except in case of strike, the employee retains his right to full daily pay when, having gone to the place of work in a normal way, he is unable to start or continue his work due to a cause beyond his control.
Half a working day is understood to mean the working hours corresponding to at least half of the applicable daily schedule and spent by an employee in the performance of work at or for a customer of the employer, which is clearly distinguishable from other work performed during the other part of the working day.
Entitlement to temporary unemployment benefits for the cancelled working hours
In order to be exempt from the payment of wages for the cancelled working hours for half a working day, the employee must be entitled to temporary unemployment (the benefits of which are paid by the ONEm/RVA) for these hours.
However, the Royal Decree regulating the procedures for granting temporary unemployment benefits for parts of a day has still not been published in the Belgian Official Gazette. It is therefore not yet possible to apply for it.
We will keep you updated as soon as we have more information on this subject.
Entry into force
This measure takes effect on 13 April 2021 and expires on 30 June 2021.
Source: Act of 2 April 2021 on temporary support measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Belgian Official Gazette 13 April 2021.