The impact of the Coronavirus on Belgian employers : the government issues support measures
The influence of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) on our (business) life is significant. The National Security Council has ordered drastic measures, such as social distancing, including the instruction that homework should be the norm. In addition, the government has also authorized deferred payment to companies, including withholding tax and social security contributions.
- Personnel: temporary unemployment
If you are unable to employ your personnel as a result of force majeure, you can temporarily put the employees on temporary unemployment due to force majeure, subject to compliance with specific formalities.
- Procedure to be followed by the employer
In principle, force majeure implies a sudden, unforeseeable event, independent of the will of the parties, that makes the execution of the agreement completely temporarily impossible.
However, a flexible application of the concept of “force majeure” is accepted as from March 13, 2020: all situations of temporary unemployment as a result of the coronavirus are considered temporary unemployment due to force majeure, even if, for example, employees still work certain days.
The application for temporary unemployment due to force majeure has also been simplified:
Temporary unemployment due to force majeure can now simply be indicated in the wage calculation:
- Log in to the personal page of the website of the payroll provider;
- Use the specially developed wage code "force majeure";
- Indicate the period during which temporary unemployment is expected (currently up to and including June 30,2020)
- Indicate how many days the employee concerned is unemployed (full-time or part-time).
On the basis of these wage codes, your payroll provider will report the temporary unemployment due to force majeure to the National Unemployment Office (“RVA”), after which the unemployment benefit for the employee will be calculated and the correct documents will be issued.
- Effects of temporary unemployment on the employees
The employee concerned must request a document C3.2 from the union or from the Aid Fund for the Unemployed (via their website) and then return it completed by the end of the second month following the month during which he was temporarily unemployed. This guarantees correct payment.
An employee who is temporarily unemployed is admitted to unemployment benefits without eligibility conditions and receives benefits of an amount equal to 70% of his average remuneration (limited to 2,754.76 EUR per month).
26,75% withholding tax is withheld from temporary unemployment benefits.
The government pays a small additional amount to an employee who is temporarily unemployed during the period from March 13, 2020 up until June 30, 2020 due to force majeure as a result of the coronavirus.
- Deferral of payment
In order to create some financial breathing space for Belgian employers, the government has developed a number of support measures.
- Withholding tax on income
The government has granted a two-month extension of payment (or refund) of the withholding tax on income. This measure is applied automatically, but it is not mandatory. If you do not wish to benefit from this extension, you must inform your payroll provider.
- Social security contributions
The National Social Security Office (“RSZ”) has granted a system of deferred payment for certain social security contributions.
The payment term for Q1 and Q2 2020 is postponed to December 15, 2020.
Normal payment terms apply from Q3 2020.
As opposed to the exemption in the context of withholding tax, this exemption is not automatically applied to all employers, but only to those employers who were obliged to close their business in its entirety by the government (ministerial decree of March 18, 2020), in particular catering industry, recreation, culture and sports and all shops or businesses obliged to close.
We are of course available, even in times of Corona, for assistance should you wish to apply one or more of the aforementioned support measures or should you wish to receive further details .