This insight is an update on the additional measures the Belgian government took in the context of the coronavirus on 13 March 2020. The measures aim to put in place a regime of social distancing. They will be in place until 3 April 2020 (the start of the Easter school break).
The following decisions are relevant for your operations in Belgium:
- In terms of employment, the government has decided that employees should continue to work as much as possible. Telework should be promoted and if needed be reinforced.
- The courses in school will be suspended but schools (three-18 year olds) will organise for "shelter"/day care for children, particularly when parents work in priority jobs (e.g. for example, healthcare professions, public security and for children who would otherwise be cared for by their grandparents). Day care for babies to three year olds will remains open.
- Public transport will continue to operate as normal but the government has requested people limit the use of public transport to only necessary travel. With flexible working hours, the public transport should not be overused.
We recommend that you put in place the necessary measures for social distancing, as follows:
- Promote teleworking for employees as much as possible (provide laptops, VPN, IT support to allow remote connection).
- Replace physical meetings by conference calls/video conferences (Skype, Zoom).
- Allow employees, even when homeworking, to work flexible hours if possible (for example, when they have to take care of children who cannot go to school)
- In case employees have to take care of young children at home during working days, and thus have less than ideal conditions for homeworking, invite your employees to take some (paid) leave (ADV/RTT leave days, annual holidays, seniority days). This cannot be imposed onto them.
We are happy to investigate to what extent you could apply for unemployment benefits in case of disrupted activities. Please feel free to reach out to us for any further assistance or advice.