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Suspension of notice period during Corona temporary unemployment

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Yesterday (11 June 2020) the House of Representatives passed a bill suspending the notice period served by an employer during Corona temporary unemployment. After negative advice of the Council of State, the act will have no retroactive effect.

Why?

If the employer terminates the employment contract with a notice period, this notice is suspended in certain cases. This is the case for, among others, illness or accident, time off in lieu of overtime, annual leave, temporary unemployment for economic reasons, etc. Belgian labour law did not provide the same for the suspension of the notice period during temporary unemployment due to force majeure, such as Corona temporary unemployment.

What?

The adopted bill adds Corona temporary unemployment to the list of suspension grounds of the notice period. As a result, an employer may terminate the employment contract of an employee in Corona temporary unemployment with a notice period, but the notice period will not start as long as the employment contract is suspended for this reason. 

Note that this only applies to notice given by an employer. A notice given by an employee does not result in a suspension of the notice period. 

The Act enters into force as from its publication date in the Belgian Official Gazette (BOG).

Consequences?

If you dismiss an employee during Corona temporary unemployment (provisionally possible until 31 August 2020) with a notice period starting from the date of publication in the BOG, the days of temporary unemployment will suspend the notice period. 
If your employee has already been dismissed with a notice period on the date of publication in the BOG, there are two different situations:

  • Notice period started to run on or after 1 March 2020
    • and is still running on the date of publication in the BOG: the days of temporary unemployment suspend the notice period, but only as regards the days of temporary unemployment from the date of publication in the BOG, i.e. not between 1 March 2020 and the date of publication in the BOG.
    • and is no longer running on the date of publication in the BOG: no (retroactive) suspension of the notice period that has already expired.
  • Notice period already started to run before 1 March 2020: by way of derogation from the general rule, the period of notice is not suspended. It does not matter whether the notice period still runs on the date of publication in the BOG.

Apart from the impact of the now widespread Coronavirus (COVID-19) on our daily personal life, companies in Belgium and around the world also face important difficulties and challenges on all levels of their day-to-day business.

Find out more regarding various related topics

Our dedicated Lydian team is ready to assist you with any questions you might have regarding the impact of the Coronavirus on your daily business.

Contact us with all your questions on corona@lydian.be

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