In this newsletter Mazars informs you about the latest topics in payroll.
Decrease amount of mileage allowance for business travel
Expenses proper to business travels can be reimbursed on a lump sum basis under certain conditions. If the employee (or the director) does not receive a company car and uses his own vehicle for business travels, the employer may grant the employee or director a lump sum allowance to cover his expenses proper to the use of his own vehicle for professional purposes. The reimbursement of these business expenses can be done in two ways:
Either via a reimbursement upon expense notes based on the actual expenses incurred;
Either via a reimbursement of a fixed mileage allowance (0,3542 EUR per kilometer) (amount until June 30, 2021).
This is a decrease compared to the previous amount (0,3653 EUR per kilometer) which was valid until June 30, 2020.
This decrease was to be expected as the fuel prices in the month of May, an element in the calculation of this compensation, were lower than the reference prices in the same period last year.
Maternity leave: illness, accident and temporary unemployment due to force majeure now assimilated with labour days
Pregnant employees are obliged to take prenatal leave one week before the expected date of delivery and postnatal leave 9 weeks after the delivery. In addition, they can take an additional 5 weeks (7 in case of multiple births) prior to the compulsory week before the delivery. Those who do not take these 5 weeks before the birth can transfer them in whole or in part to the period after the 9 weeks postnatal leave.
However, if they become ill, have an accident or fall into the system of temporary unemployment due to force majeure during the 6 weeks prior to their presumed date of delivery, their absence will normally be converted into prenatal leave and will therefore no longer be able to take these weeks after the delivery.
The government has therefore amended the law so that these employees can retain their prenatal leave. The following circumstances are now assimilated with worked days:
Temporary unemployment due to force majeure;
Sickness or accident;
Temporary unemployment for economic reasons;
Work removal of a pregnant woman as a maternity protection measure (so-called prophylactic leave).
Consequently to this change, pregnant employees who find themselves in one of the above situations can transfer their 5 (or 7) weeks of prenatal rest to the period after the post-natal leave.
This new law has a retroactive effect from 1 March 2020. However, transitional rules have been stipulated in order to avoid anyone falling between the two regulations.
Conversion of eco vouchers of 2021 before October 31, 2020
The collective labour agreement concerning eco vouchers for employees falling under Joint Labour Committee 200, has been concluded for an indefinite period. Consequently, as an employer, in principle you will have to grant eco vouchers to your employees again in (June) 2021.
However, it is also possible to reward your employees by granting another equivalent benefit instead of eco vouchers. Another equivalent benefit can be e.g. the implementation of meal vouchers or increasing the nominal value of the current meal vouchers, implementation of a collective medical expense / hospitalization insurance, … .
The implementation process depends on the presence or absence of a trade union delegation within your company. Employers who want to convert their eco vouchers of 2020 into another equivalent have time until October 31, 2020 to make the conversion.
Please contact us, in case you would like our advice or assistance relating to this conversion.
Extension Corona parental leave
Because of the Corona crisis, a new and separate form of parental leave has been created to help parents combine work and care for their children.
The Corona parental leave is not taken into account from the credit of the regular parental leave. It is therefore an additional leave on top of the ordinary parental leave.
The Corona parental leave was initially provided for from 1 May 2020 to 30 June 2020, but has now been extended until 30 September 2020.
In addition, the following changes are announced to the current regulations from 1 July 2020 onwards:
single parents (only living together with one or more dependent children) and parents of a disabled child will also be able to take full-time Corona parental leave (in addition to 1/5 and half-time corona parental leave).
the amount of the interruption benefit for the corona parental leave for parents living alone and parents of a handicapped child will be increased by 50% compared to the benefit for the ordinary parental leave. However, the amount of this increased interruption benefit will be capped, which must ensure that the interruption benefit does not exceed the gross salary.
Extension temporary unemployment due to force majeure
The flexible scheme of temporary unemployment due to force majeure will be extended until 31 August 2020, following a decision of the Belgian Minister of Employment.
Since 13 March 2020, the Corona temporary unemployment procedure has been reduced to an absolute minimum. Affected employees are covered by an adapted, exceptionally flexible unemployment statute. The entire system will be extended once again in its entirety and for all sectors currently until 31 August 2020.
A further extension has been discussed until 31 December 2020 for sectors “in difficulty”: it is likely that this group will be limited to the hospitality, tourism and events sectors.
Other sectors will have to transfer to a classic system of economic unemployment as from 1 September 2020, but temporarily with more flexible rules of application. For white-collar workers there are 3 differences in comparison with the normal procedure for temporary unemployment for economic reasons:
the criteria for the target group;
the removal of the required approval committee ‘business plan’;
increase in the maximum credit.
Furthermore, a new law stipulated that the period of unemployment due to force majeure because of the Corona crisis is now suspending the notice period in case of dismissal by the employer. For more information regarding this topic, we refer to our Mazars Info newsletter of June.
Temporary unemployment days due to Corona are assimilated for vacation entitlements
A Royal Decree of 4 June 2020 equates the days of temporary unemployment due to force majeure caused by the Corona virus with days actually worked for entitlement to annual leave.
In particular, for employees who have enjoyed recognition of temporary unemployment for reasons of force majeure, the days of temporary unemployment due to force majeure because of the Corona crisis are assimilated to the days actually worked for the calculation of the holiday pay and the holiday duration.
This assimilation is foreseen for the period from 1 February 2020 until 30 June 2020. Please note that this assimilation is for entitlement to annual leave, other assimilations (for example assimilation for end of year premium) need to be verified in het sectoral provisions.
Corona time credit and Corona landing job as of 1 July 2020
From 1 July 2020, private sector employees can take up Corona time credit for a period of 1 to 6 months. In order to deal with the economic difficulties caused by the Corona crisis, employers of a company recognized as being in restructuring or in difficulty can propose a partial interruption (half-time or 1/5) to their employees thanks to the Corona time credit.
The periods of interruption of Corona time credit will not be deducted from the maximum duration of the ordinary time credit. Like Corona parental leave, it thus concerns an additional leave. Employees with corona time credit are entitled to an interruption benefit to mitigate the loss of pay, if they meet all the conditions. This benefit is the same as for ordinary time credit.
In addition, there is now also the Corona landing job. This allows employees aged at least 55 with at least 25 years of professional experience to receive wage-related interruption benefits if their performance is reduced during a period of recognition of the company as a company undergoing restructuring or in difficulty.
The Royal Decree containing these measures has not yet been published. It is therefore not yet possible to submit applications for these benefits. We will keep you informed.
New medical certificate: quarantine certificate
A new medical certificate has been created to provide greater clarity for employees who are quarantined or placed in quarantine.
The new medical certificate is drawn up for employees who are fit for work, but who are in quarantine. The quarantine can be the result of several reasons:
An employee who has had close contact with an infected person;
The medical situation of the employee constitutes a risk (e.g. because of another treatment).
There are several possible consequences if the employee submits a medical certificate for quarantine.
If the employee is able to perform telework, the employee can continue to work at home. If telework is not possible, then the employee must be placed on temporary unemployment force majeure Corona. After all, this is not a real work disability and the employee is not entitled to the guaranteed salary or health insurance.
In case of an ordinary sickness certificate, the ordinary rules on guaranteed salary and sickness insurance apply. This ordinary sickness certificate must, as usual, state that the employee is incapacitated for work.
Importance of a telework policy
Many companies are still allowing employees to work from home to some extent and will continue to do so after the Corona crisis. In this respect, it is important to make clear agreements about this with your teleworking staff.
A teleworking policy is therefore indispensable if everything is to run smoothly. This policy will then include matters relating to the hours of attendance at which the employee must be available, reimbursement of expenses, insurance, monitoring the work of the employee, etc.
Please contact your payroll consultant for more information in this respect.
Validity period of several vouchers extended
In the context of the Covid-19 crisis, the Belgian government adopted a measure allowing employees to enjoy their various vouchers for a longer period.
The period of validity of the electronic meal vouchers, paper and electronic eco vouchers and gift vouchers (Saint Nicholas or Christmas) which would expire in March, April, May or June 2020 has been extended by 6 months.
The Belgian Minister of Social Affairs may extend this period with an additional period of 6 months, if necessary.
Sports and culture vouchers always expire on 30 September. The validity of the vouchers that would expire on 30 September 2020 will therefore be extended until 31 December 2020.
The effect of the period of unemployment on the entitlement to working time reduction days
If the working time in the company is more than the average working hours of usually 38 hours per week, the employee builds up working time reduction days (hereafter ‘RWT days’).
In principle, only actual performed days give rise to the accrual of RWT days.
The period of temporary unemployment due to force majeure because of the Corona crisis can therefore have an impact on the accrual of these vacation days. It all depends on whether there is anything determined on sectoral level or company level.
As a result, a period of temporary unemployment will often not give rise to the accrual of RWT days. For example, Joint Labour Committee 200 has not determined an assimilation of days of temporary unemployment with worked days for the accrual of RWT days.
October 31 - Belgian social security contributions balance of Q3/2020 (July-Sept)
November 15 - Wage withholding tax October 2020
(*) Companies experiencing financial difficulties due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) have the possibility to apply for aid measures towards the Belgian social security authorities and/or Belgian tax authorities. For more information about the above, we kindly ask you to contact us or consult our special COVID-19 INFO page on our website www.mazars.be.