Crisis bridging right
Entrepreneurs forced to close their business by the government are eligible for the bridging right due to mandatory closure for every month in which they are forced to close for at least one day. This right will continue until the end of December 2020.
If you are not subject to mandatory closure, but are forced to close down due to the coronavirus for at least seven consecutive days, you will no longer qualify for the bridging right from 1 September. This also applies to entrepreneurs who must go into quarantine due to illness or on returning from a red zone.
Entrepreneurs forced to suspend operations for longer than a calender month during the initial stage of the coronavirus crisis, and for whom this was still the case on 3 May, are eligible to apply for the restart benefit as of June. To qualify for this benefit, their turnover or orders in the second quarter of 2020 must also show a decline of at least 10% compared to the previous year.
This measure has now been extended until the end of October 2020. For October, the comparison will be between the third quarters of 2020 and 2019. The necessary supporting documents must be submitted along with the application.
Delayed social contributions
Any entrepreneur experiencing difficulties due to the coronavirus may apply to the social security office for a payment extension for their social contributions. As long as social contributions for the relevant quarters are paid within the stipulated terms, this extension will not affect benefits or pension rights. Please note; this is an extension, not a waiver!
Due to the coronavirus crisis, a greatly simplified temporary unemployment procedure has been in force since March 2020. As of 1 September 2020, the rules will change and new, transitional measures go into effect. These transitional measures will remain in place until the end of December 2020.
Heavily affected companies and sectors
The rules below are applicable in the following circumstances:
- +In the second quarter of 2020, you made use of the temporary unemployment scheme due to coronavirus force majeure, for at least 20 percent of the total number of days worked (social security declaration), or:
- +Your sector is recognised as being heavily affected.
In either case, you may make use of the National Employment Office’s new C106 A HGO form (Heavily Affected Enterprises). Additionally, you will not be required to submit declarations in advance until 31 December 2020. Submitting the days of unemployment using the ASR WECH 005 form remains compulsory, however.
Employees will not be obliged to carry a control card. The benefit amounts to 70 percent of the capped pay, plus the employment office’s supplement of EUR 5.63 per day
Other companies and sectors:
For blue-collar workers, the following rules apply:
- +Complete suspension: a maximum of eight consecutive weeks of temporary unemployment, followed by a mandatory working week.
- +Partial suspension (fewer than three days a week or less than one working week out of every two): a maximum of 18 consecutive weeks of temporary unemployment, followed by a mandatory working week
The rules for white-collar workers are as follows:
- +Complete suspension: a maximum of 24 weeks of temporary unemployment.- Partial suspension: a maximum of 34 weeks of temporary unemployment.
Flemish protection mechanism
The National Security Council’s recent reversion to stricter coronavirus measures means that certain companies are still experiencing significant loss of turnover. The Flemish Government has therefore decided to offer these companies financial aid by means of a Flemish protection mechanism. This new support premium subsidises companies’ fixed costs to a maximum of EUR 15,000.
Temporary COVID-19 parental leave for the self-employed
Temporary parental leave for the self-employed is an option for any entrepreneur forced to work less in order to care for their children due to coronavirus measures for one or more months in the period from May to September. Applications may be submitted until the end of December 2020.
Please note that if you already applied for benefits in the context of the crisis bridging right or restart benefit for the month of September, you will no longer be eligible for this parental leave.
Landing strip time credit
The coronavirus landing strip time credit was implemented on 1 July to help private sector enterprises recognised by the Minister for Labour as being in the process of reorganisation or in difficulties. This flexible measure is designed to provide people aged 55 or over with a career-interruption benefit. The regulation on unemployment with company allowance describes the criteria for enterprises in the process of reorganisation or in difficulties. There is no obligation to enter into a CLA to receive this credit. The recognition must be granted between 1 March and 31 December.
In addition to support measures, several tax incentives also received approval recently. These include the carry-back for corona losses and a third wave of tax measures.