Unemployment for economic reasons
The National Labour Council (NLC) concluded a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with regard to the coronavirus. This CBA concerns unemployment due to economic reasons for white-collar employees.
This CBA is important for companies employing white-collar employees that experience economic difficulties following the coronavirus crisis and who want to apply unemployment for economic reasons. The companies do not have to agree upon a CBA or a business plan in order to ensure that their white-collar employees are entitled to unemployment benefits due to economic reasons.
The CBA shall apply between 18 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 and to arrangements of partial or full suspension, of which the start and end date fall during the period of validity of this CBA. Depending on the evaluation of the measures, the CBA can be extended.
This CBA introduces a scheme for the full and/or partial suspension of the execution of the employment agreement of white-collar employees in the event of recognition as a company in difficulty in order to obtain unemployment benefits for white-collar employees.
This CBA does not deviate from existing sectoral or company CBA’s or business plans. Companies that have already submitted a business plan that has not yet been approved are covered by this CBA. It remains possible to agree upon CBA’s or business plans at sector or company level.
In order to obtain unemployment benefits for white-collar employees because of economic reasons, both (1) the procedure relating to recognition as a company in difficulty in the context of the temporary suspension of the employment agreement (FPS Employment, Labor and Social Consultation) and (2) the procedure relating to the application for temporary unemployment (National Employment Office) must be followed.
Duration of the temporary suspension
The maximum duration of the full suspension of the employment agreement is currently 16 weeks, and 26 weeks in the case of a partial suspension. In a combination of full and partial suspension, one week full suspension corresponds to two weeks partial suspension.
In the event of unemployment for economic reasons, an employee whose employment agreement is suspended will receive an amount of at least EUR 5 per day of unemployment at the expense of the employer. If blue-collar workers in the company receive a higher amount because of the sectoral scheme applicable to them – or in the absence of blue-collar workers in the company: if the joint committee that would apply if there were blue-collar workers, would apply a higher amount – the supplement for white-collar workers will be at least equivalent to that of these blue-collar workers.
This information dates from 19 March 2019 and may be subject to changes.