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Brexit - Belgium hard brexit law - Employment

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The Belgian ‘hard’ Brexit law contains transitional measures for British nationals and their relatives residing on Belgian territory and provides in a temporary extension of the application of the rules on coordination of workers’ social security rights and benefits.

This law was adopted in the hope the UK would allow for similar measures regarding Belgian nationals. Should this not be the case or if the initiatives taken by the UK are deemed insufficient, the Brexit law explicitly foresees in a possibility to swiftly amend the scope and duration of the Brexit law without the intervention of Parliament being required.

The law provides an extension of: 

  • the right of British nationals and their relatives, residing on Belgian territory on the date of Brexit, to stay on Belgian territory post Brexit, 
  • the application of the rules on the coordination of social security systems within the European Union, laid down in specific European Regulations.

However, these measures are limited to the period until 31 December 2020. As the Withdrawal Agreement governs this period in the meantime , they cannot have effect in their current status. 

On 6 March 2020, Belgium has therefore adopted a new, additional act for companies in difficulties due to Brexit. This act will only enter into force in case of a ‘hard’ Brexit. The act provides three temporary crisis measures that aim at safeguarding employment:  

  • Temporary unemployment (fulltime or part time). 
    For the days of temporary unemployment, the employees receive unemployment allowances at the charge of the National Employment Office and a company supplement (of max. EUR 5,63 per day) at the charge of the employer.
  • Temporary individual reduction of working time (1/5th or 1/2th) in mutual consent with the employees.
    For the days they do not work, the employees concerned receive a complementary allowance at the charge of the National Employment Office (same amount as time credit allowances).
  • Temporary collective reduction of working time (1/5th or 1/4th) via a collective bargaining agreement or an amendment of the work rules. 
    The employer can pay a company supplement for the days not worked but the gross remuneration of the employees may not increase. The employer benefits from a reduction of social security contributions. 

All measure are limited in time (they can only be applied during a number of months/weeks). Moreover, the act of 6 March 2020 is limited to the private sector and only applies to companies recognized as company in difficulties due to Brexit by the Minister of Work. The main condition for such recognition is that the company is affected by a 5% reduction in turnover, production or orders due to Brexit. 

Our dedicated Lydian team is ready to assist you with any questions you might have regarding Brexit. 

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