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Brexit: what are the support measures?

19 February 2021 Nele Mertens Employers

The United Kingdom has not been part of the European Union since 1 February 2020. In the meantime, the transition period, which lasted until the end of 2020, has also ended. Is your organisation dependent on trade with the UK? Then you'll probably feel the impact of the stricter rules that resulted from Brexit. The Government provides support for employers who are suffering lost turnover as a result of Brexit. We'll provide an overview.

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What are the conditions for Brexit support?

If employers can prove a loss of turnover or production of at least 5% because of Brexit, they can be recognised as 'employers in economic difficulty'. The application for this recognition must be submitted to the General Directorate for Collective Industrial Relations of the FPS WASO. They will decide whether or not such recognition is granted. In addition, a collective agreement must be concluded, either at sectoral level or in your company itself.

What Brexit support measures are there?

Below, you can read about three temporary measures that employers in economic difficulties can rely on. These are included in the 'Brexit Act' of 6 March 2020. The measures will enter into force on 22 March 2021 and expire on 21 March 2022.

1. Temporary unemployment

If you are recognised as an 'employer in economic difficulties', you can apply temporary unemployment for the days when there is too little work for your employees. This is a special form of economic unemployment, which is possible for both your blue-collar workers and your office staff.

  • For blue-collar workers, by way of derogation from the normal rules for economic unemployment, you can apply a complete suspension for a maximum of 8 weeks (instead of the usual 4 weeks). A partial suspension can apply for up to 6 months (instead of the usual 3 months).
  • For office staff, in addition to the normal credits for economic unemployment, you will be able to carry out a full suspension for a maximum of 8 weeks per calendar year, and a partial suspension for a maximum of 13 weeks per calendar year.

If you apply temporary unemployment, you will be paid an additional fee of 5.63 euros per day. For your employees, the sector can transfer this obligation to the Social Security Fund.

2. Time credit

You can suggest to your employee to reduce his performance.

  • A full-time employee can reduce his performance by 1/5 or to a part-time job.
  • An employee who is employed at least 3/4 can reduce his performance to a part-time job.

Therefore, an agreement between you and your employee is required to take up the time credit. You can't impose it on your employees. The reduction must be carried out for at least one month and a maximum of 6 months, and can only be made within the period of recognition.

Good to know for your employees: these Brexit time credit months are not deducted from the 51-month pool for time credit with a motive

You have to record the reduction in writing, as it is temporary part-time employment, and the reduced working time must be respected on average over the requested period.

The allowance that your employees will receive is the same as for a regular time credit. In order to make the application, the NEO will probably provide a special form via their website.

3. Reduced working hours

You can reduce the working hours of all your employees, or a certain category among them. With a quarter or a fifth of the normal working hours of full-time employees in your company. Another option is to implement a four-day week. Then the weekly working hours are spread either over four working days per week, or over five working days per week, which involve three full and two half days of working. 'Half day of work' means a maximum of half of the working hours provided for in the work schedule of those of the three full working days which comprise the highest number of working hours.

If you reduce your working hours, you have to provide wage compensation. It is funded by the target group reduction you enjoy because you have reduced your working hours. At least three quarters of that advantage should be used as wage compensation.

You have to regulate the reduction in working hours through a collective agreement or in the labour regulations if there is no trade union delegation in your company.

Cross-border employment made easy

A lot will change after 31 December 2020. Proper preparation for all possible aspects of Brexit is necessary to ensure the continuity of your organisation. Count on the expertise and know-how of Acerta International and act today.


Acerta International

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Written by Nele Mertens

Juridisch adviseur

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