It is clear that our economy cannot escape the Corona virus which is currently overtaking the world. The consequences are particularly serious for companies that have an economic link with the affected areas in China. The National Employment Office ( further on RVA/ONEM) therefore recognizes the Corona virus as a case of force majeure for granting temporary unemployment. This measure applies until the end of March 2020.

In order to help the economic victims - companies and individuals - of the Corona virus, the RVA/ONEM recognises it as a case of force majeure for granting temporary unemployment.

We also refer in this context to a press release of 6 February 2020 from the Minister of Employment, Nathalie Muylle.

This allowance is linked to certain conditions (known as preliminary conditions) and is of a temporary nature.

1. Who can call on this principle of force majeure?

Employees who meet the following conditions may be laid off due to force majeure:

  • workers who stay in China for personal reasons (holidays in China or other reasons outside the context of their work) and are not able to return to Belgium given measures taken by the Chinese government in the context of the virus (such as a flight ban etc.);
  • workers repatriated to Belgium but, upon arrival, are quarantined.

2. What formalities must be completed in this context?

Employers who invoke force majeure must file an electronic declaration as soon as possible with the RVA/ONEM of the place of business. He mentions "CORONAVIRUS" as a reason for force majeure.

In addition, he must also submit a written request for recognition of force majeure by providing detailed explanations demonstrating that unemployment is the consequence of force majeure due to the coronavirus.

3. What options are still available for employers concerned?

Employers that are economically affected by the Corona virus can opt for temporary unemployment for economic reasons for their workers. This happens for example if the company depends on suppliers or products from the regions affected or which are confronted by a strong decrease in their clientele (for example Chinese food businesses, Chinese restaurants, airlines, etc.).

Companies which do not yet meet the preliminary conditions may submit a request to the Minister of Employment to be recognised as a company in difficulty on the basis of unforeseeable circumstances which lead, over a short period, to a substantial reduction in turnover, business, production or number of orders.

This measure will apply until the end of March 2020.