additional support measures for the covid-19 pandemic

16 February 2021

Additional support measures for the COVID-19 pandemic

Existing support measures are extended until the end of June 2021:

  • The double crisis bridging subsidy for self-employed persons is extended;
  • Self-employed persons can also apply for the new bridging subsidy, which was introduced from 1 January 2021 (loss of revenue 40%);- An additional deferment of company contribution payments for self-employed persons;
  • Supplementary “incapacity to work” payout for self-employed persons, to bring them to the same level as the bridging subsidy payout;
  • Temporary improvements to the classic bridging subsidy – e.g. improving accessibility for start-ups and retention of pension accrual; 
  • Employers in all sectors are granted an extension to the simplified procedure for temporary unemployment due to the coronavirus as force majeure;
  • Employees will also receive a higher net unemployment payout: the national employment office will only take a 15% payroll tax;
  • Workers in the caring sector, key sectors and essential services may accumulate up to 220 hours voluntary overtime;
  • A simplified mechanism is provided whereby employers can temporarily second employees to another employer in the care or teaching sectors. Temporarily unemployed workers may accept consecutive limited-time contracts – minimum seven days – from another employer in these sectors;
  • Employees who are temporarily unemployed due to coronavirus as force majeure may work in agriculture, horticulture, the caring sector or teaching, while keeping 75% of their payout;
  • Employees who are temporarily unemployed as a result of the pandemic continue to accrue the second pillar of their supplementary pension.

Additional support measures:

  • Abolition of the advance payment rule for payroll tax in December 2021; adjustment in the following financial year;
  • Exemption from FASFC taxes in the hospitality sector;
  • Reduced employer social security benefits for employers in the events sector;
  • Students with side jobs in the caring professions or teaching may exceed the annual maximum of 475 hours in 2021;
  • Temporary unemployment as a result of the pandemic may be counted in half days instead of full days in the service voucher and school transport sectors;
  • More training opportunities for workers temporarily unemployed as a result of the pandemic;
  • Additional one-off subsidy for employees with a low wage who have been unemployed for a long time due to the pandemic (more than 52 days since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020) and who are employed in a sector that is still subject to mandatory closure on 1 March 2021. The value of this one-off subsidy depends on the number of days of temporary unemployment during the months of January, February and March 2021, to a maximum of 780 EUR (gross);
  • In order to compensate for staff shortages in certain sectors, employees taking a career break or unpaid leave may temporarily return to work and then continue their career break or unpaid leave without further difficulties;
  • The remote working subsidy intended to compensate for the costs of working from home will temporarily increase to 144.37 EUR (from 129.48 EUR). The increase applies for regular employees for three months (April–June 2021) and for civil servants for eight months. This subsidy is untaxed. The employer is free to decide whether they will pay out this increased subsidy, which comes at the employer’s expense;
  • Preventive campaign against burnout.

Mandatory or recommended teleworking during the pandemic

The National Works Council of 26 January 2021 adopted a collective agreement (CAO no. 149) regulating mandatory or recommended telework during the pandemic.

According to this collective agreement, all companies must have a clear policy outlining how remote work is organised. The employer must include the following elements in the policy:

  • That the same rights and duties regarding working conditions – working hours, availability, work expected, control mechanisms, GDPR, etc. – apply to the employee as if they were working on the company premises 
  • That employees are informed about the policy for wellbeing at work 
  • The equipment and technical support are to be provided by the employer
  • The global framework for the overall costs or compensation that the employer pays to the employee (to a maximum of 129.48 EUR. This amount applies for three months and increases to 144.31 EUR on 1 April 2021)

If you do not yet have a suitable policy and are struggling to see the wood for the trees, our specialists in HR Solutions will be happy to help you draft your policy.

On Friday 12 February 2021, the Inner Cabinet agreed to extend a comprehensive package of support measures until the end of June 2021. The Inner Cabinet also announced a number of additional support measures. Here is a list:

Additional support measures for the COVID-19 pandemic