Payroll Newsletter Q1 2021

Temporary unemployment ‘Corona’ until 31 December assimilated for the yearly vacation

Days of temporary unemployment due to force majeure caused by the Coronavirus are further assimilated for the entitlement to annual leave during the period from 1 September to 31 December 2020.

Previously, the days of temporary unemployment due to force majeure ‘Corona’ were already assimilated for the period from 1 February until 30 June 2020 and a second period from 1 July until 31 August 2020.

In other words, for employees (blue and white collar workers) who have benefited from the system of temporary unemployment due to force majeure due to the Coronavirus in 2020, the days of temporary unemployment due to force majeure will be assimilated to days actually worked for the calculation of vacation pay and vacation entitlements, for the period from 1 February to 31 December 2020.

Temporary unemployment ‘Corona’ no longer equals time worked for annual leave in 2021

Days of temporary unemployment due to force majeure caused by the coronavirus were treated as days actually worked for entitlement to annual leave until 31 December 2020. It is not currently planned to extend this measure to 2021.

As a reminder, for the period from 1 February until 31 December 2020, the days of work interruption resulting from temporary unemployment due to force majeure following the pandemic caused by the coronavirus are treated as days actually worked for the calculation of the holiday pay and the holiday duration.

This means that the days of temporary unemployment due to force majeure caused by the coronavirus in 2020 have no negative impact on the number of days of leave and holiday pay to which the employee is entitled in 2021.

At present, it is not provided for to treat the days of temporary unemployment due to force majeure caused by the coronavirus declared in 2021 as days actually worked for entitlement to annual leave.

No temporary unemployment when returning from a ‘red zone’

Since 31 December 2020, any person returning to Belgium after a stay of at least 48 hours in a so called ‘red zone’ must be quarantined. It is therefore possible that some employees will not be able to resume work if they have taken advantage of a few days’ holiday abroad.

The Minister of Labour has recently confirmed that the employee, whose quarantine is due to a return from a holiday in a ‘red zone’, will not be able to benefit from the system of temporary unemployment due to force majeure ‘Corona’.

Beware: inspection of teleworking in January 2021

In January 2021, the social inspection services will carry out national “flash” inspections on compulsory teleworking in the tertiary sector (services).

At the request of the National Security Council, teleworking is mandatory for all companies, associations and services for all staff members, unless this is impossible due to the nature of the function or the continuity of the business, activities or services.

Flash inspections have a dissuasive effect in mind, by making it clear to offenders that the risk of being caught is real. However, their informative and preventive nature does not prevent the inspectorates from imposing sanctions when serious infringements are detected. This large-scale action takes place in addition to the usual random inspections.

Obligatory test for foreign employees

As of 25 December 2020, a new obligation applies to employers in the construction, cleaning, agriculture, horticulture and meat processing sectors who temporarily employ an employee or self-employed person residing or living abroad. If these employees or self-employed persons return from a ‘red zone’, they may only be employed if they can submit a negative test result.

An employed or self-employed person living or residing abroad must provide proof of a negative result of a test carried out in Belgium at the earliest 72 hours before the start of his work or activity when travelling to Belgium from a ‘red zone’.

In the absence of a negative result, the employer or user cannot call upon the employee or self-employed person to work in Belgium and the latter must place himself in quarantine until a negative result can be communicated.
This obligation comes on top of the existing obligations regarding the registration of foreign workers, which were already discussed in our previous newsletter.

Extension of eco, meal, gift, culture and sport vouchers

Meal, eco and gift vouchers that expire between 1 November 2020 and 31 March 2021 will remain valid for a further 6 months.

The sports and culture vouchers remain valid until 30 September 2021.

Meal vouchers and eco vouchers which expired in 2020 and that were not extended must be reissued. This means that the issuer of the expired voucher must issue a new voucher, in the same amount as the expired voucher, without additional costs for the employer or employee. The new voucher will once again have a term of 12 months in case of meal vouchers, or 24 months for eco vouchers.

This system provides a solution for the vouchers which validity has effectively expired in the course of this year, without extension.

Extension of birth leave

As of 1 January 2021, the birth leave (or in other words: paternity leave) is extended from 10 days to 15 days. These 15 days do not have to be taken at once.

The employee can choose the dates on which he wants to take the birth leave within 4 months after the birth.

During the first 3 days of absence, the employee is entitled to his normal salary at the expense of his employer. For the next 12 days (instead of 7 days previously), the employee does not receive any salary at the expense of his employer. However, he can receive an allowance from his health insurance fund.

The birth leave is given with priority to the employee who is the father of the child, i.e. the person in respect of whom the parentage is legally established. If parentage on the father’s side is not legally established, the birth leave can be granted to the employee co-parent.

This means that in addition to the father of the child, the partner who is married or cohabiting with the mother of the child and the partner who has not recognized the child and is married or cohabiting with the mother may also be granted birth leave.

New exemption from Belgian wage withholding tax for employees training

The Belgian government recently introduced a new exemption for Belgian wage withholding taxes for companies who want to train their employees better. In this way, the government wants to support companies that grant their employees more hours of training than is provided for in the regulations.

Of course, there are certain conditions that have to be met in order to benefit of the wage withholding exemption. In case you want more information, please do not hesitate to contact your payroll consultant.

Target group reduction for first recruitments remains in 2021

The NSSO confirms in its instructions to employers that the target group reduction for the first employee will be extended beyond 31 December 2020.

The new government had already announced that it was prepared to extend this increased reduction for the recruitment of the 1st employee, which was scheduled to expire on 31 December 2020. The measure has now been extended under the same conditions, meaning:

  • the 1st employee recruited before 1 January 2021 will continue to benefit from the reduction 1st employee as it exists today;
  • the first employee recruited after 31 December 2020 may also be entitled to this reduction thanks to the extension of the measure.

Brexit news: 1 January 2021 means the end of the transition period

As of 1 January 2021, the fundamental European provisions of free movement of, amongst others, persons and services no longer apply to the United Kingdom.

This will have an impact on companies located in the UK or companies performing activities in the UK.

Explaining all the consequences and regulations would go too far for this newsletter. If you find yourself in this kind of situation, do not hesitate to contact us. We can always assist you with advice, aid you with finding a solutions or requesting the necessary documents.

Bonus JLC 200

The bonus JLC 200 amounts to 267,64 EUR as from 2021. This bonus will be processed on the payslip of June 2021 on the basis of effective and equivalent work performed (employment) in the course of the reference period (June 2020-May 2021).

Benefit in kind for company cars raises

For employees enjoying the benefit of a company car as part of their remuneration package and who are allowed to use this company car for private purposes, are subject to a taxable benefit in kind.

The calculation of this benefit in kind for the private use of the company car is based on the reference CO2-emission.

For income year 2021, the reference CO2-emissions shall be determined as follows:

  • vehicles powered by petrol, LPG or natural gas engines: 102 g/km;
  • vehicles with diesel engines: 84 g/km.

The benefit in kind must never be less than a minimum fixed amount, which has been fixed at 1.360 EUR for 2021. The strong decrease in reference CO2-emissions means that the benefit in kind will increase sharply in 2021.

Different types of vacation

As a general rule, Belgian law provides that full-time employees are entitled to 20 legal vacation days each year.

Each employee subject to the Belgian social security regime builds up vacation rights for these days during the ‘holiday service year’ (2020). Only in the following calendar year, the so-called ‘holiday year’ (2021), the employee may actually take his/her leave days. Whether you get the full amount or only part of it depends on the number of days you worked in the previous year.

Certain sectors also work with working time reduction days: e.g. an employee working 40 hours in a sector where the 38-hour week is in force, saves two extra hours of leave every week worked. On an annual basis, the employee is then entitled to 12 extra working time reduction days.

The big difference between legal vacation days and working time reduction days is that the latter are calculated on the basis of the performance in the current year of service (2021), while the legal vacation days are calculated on the basis of the holiday service year (2020).

In addition, an employer may decide to grant his personnel additional (extra-legal) vacation days on top of the legal vacation. The rules to grant these are entirely up to the employer. These holidays are often granted for unofficial holidays (such as second Christmas or bridging days).

The main advantage of these extra-legal vacation days is that the employer can decide whether the employee can carry these holidays over to the following year or whether or not this is limited to a certain period. This carry-over is not possible for the 20 legal vacation days and the working time reduction days.

If your payroll is already processed by Mazars, we are setting up the vacation counters for 2021. If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact one of our payroll consultants.

Bank holidays in 2021

In 2021, we can again look forward to 10 public holidays, of which three will fall in the weekend. In the schedule below, you can find the dates of the bank holidays.

New Year

Friday, 1 January 2021

Easter Monday

Monday, 5 April 2021

Labour day

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Ascension day

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Whit Monday

Monday, 24 May 2021

National day

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Assumption day

Sunday, 15 August 2021

All Saints' day

Monday, 1 November 2021

Armistice day

Thursday, 11 November 2021

Christmas

Saturday, 25 December 2021

We want to remind you that, when there is nothing concluded in the work regulations, the replacement holidays for the holidays falling on a normal inactivity day (normally in the weekend) will fall on the first day after the concerned holiday.

Time credit ‘landing strip’ – no longer NEO allowance for employees between 55 and 59 years

In 2019 and 2020, employees within the private sector and between 55 and 59 years had the opportunity to receive a time credit ‘landing strip’ until their pension, with allowance from the National Employment Office (NEO).

The interprofessional collective labour agreement (CLA) n° 137 provided for the opportunity to receive allowances, but this CLA is no longer in force as of 1 January 2021.

This means that employees aged 55 to 59 who start a time credit ‘landing strip’ as of 1 January 2021 can no longer claim an allowance from the NEO.

As long as the social partners do not conclude a new interprofessional CLA, time credit ‘landing strip’ for employees aged 55 to 59 will be granted without an NEO allowance.

Wage development 2021-2022: maximum available margin of 0.4 %

Every two years, the Belgian Central Economic Council (CCE/CRB) publishes a report about the margin available for wage cost development. For the period 2021-2022, the available margin is 0.4 %.

With this margin of 0.4%, the Group of 10 will then start working on finalising the wage standard in the biennial inter-professional agreement.

It is important to note that the margin established by the CCE/CRB is a maximum margin for the wage cost development. Thus negotiations between the social partners cannot lead to a decision to apply a higher percentage. They can only confirm the 0.4 % or award a lower percentage.

The wage standard determines how much wage costs may increase during a period of 2 years, i.e. from 01.01.2021 up to and including 31.12.2022.

Wage scale increases on the basis of seniority, normal promotions or individual category changes to which your employees are entitled and the guaranteed index increases are in addition to the wage standard.

Indexations January 2021 :

JLC 200: + 0,95%

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Payroll newsletter Q1 2021

Payroll newsletter Q1 2021