Jump in businesses seeking permission for temporary unemployment for staff

Over 1,700 Belgian businesses have requested permission to allow workers to sign on for unemployment benefit temporarily due to the coronavirus emergency.  In all up to 31,000 employees could be affected.

Temporary unemployment is a tool that allows workers to sign on for unemployment benefit for a temporary period due to lack of work.  For businesses it means they do not have to sack any workers they do not need at the minute.

The system has existed for a long time now and allows businesses to cope in times of less demand for products and services. It is regularly employed in the building sector.  Applications have to be made via the state employment agency RVA. The number of days of temporary unemployment will have to be kept limited.  Employees receive 70% of their gross salary with a ceiling of 2,700 euros.

Last week around a hundred businesses representing 1,500 employees were benefitting from the regime.  Today the figure for applications has risen covering to up 31,000 employees including blue and white collar workers in 1,700 companies. Flemish labour minister Nathalie Muylle stresses that such applications allow a large number of workers to sign on, but that at the minute the number of workers receiving temporary unemployment benefit is considerably lower. Some workers will only be signing on for one single day. Above all the tourism and hospitality industries are today banking on this system. We will have to wait until next month when the benefits are paid to know the exact scale of this phenomenon.

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