The coronavirus - FAQ for entrepreneurs

The coronavirus - FAQ for entrepreneurs

1819.brussels

You probably have questions about how your business can continue to operate during the coronavirus crisis. 1819, the leading information service for Brussels entrepreneurs, coordinates and distributes all the information likely to be of help to you. Below you will find some FAQs about coronavirus. It is based on a compilation of information from official sources. The questions are divided into the following categories:

  1. Measures taken by the authorities
  2. Assistance for companies, retailers and the self-employed
  3. Employer - employee relations
  4. Operation of the company
  5. Health advice
  6. Useful telephone numbers and websites providing information

Of course, you can also call the service directly by dialing 1819. You can reach us every working day from 9 am to 5 pm.

Date of the last update:   3 november

1. Measures taken by authorities

WHICH BUSINESSES AND SHOPS HAVE TO CLOSE OR CAN STAY OPEN?

Below you will find an overview of the most recent measures taken. They are valid until 13 December.

Federal measures Additional measures in the Brussels Region

Must close or is prohibited :

  • Horeca and other food and drink establishments are closed until 13 December 2020 inclusive, except for take-away and delivery services. This includes restaurants, bars, cafés, taverns (also in hotels and b&b's).
  • Holiday villages, bungalow parks and campsites are closed to the public from 3 November 2020, with the exception of holiday accommodations, bungalows, chalets and camping facilities which are used for the use of the owner and/or his household, or a household having its habitual residence there, and only for this use.
  • Businesses and associations offering non-essential goods to consumers are closed to the public, but they can continue their activities by means of delivery or an appointment system to collect pre-ordered goods. These include clothing and shoe shops, jewellers, decoration shops, toy shops, ...
  • Non-medical contact jobs, including home services, are prohibited (beauty salons, non-medical pedicure institutes, nail salons, massage parlours, hairdressers and barbers, tattoo and piercing studios).
  • Grooming salons and dog training centres, as well as animal shelters and boarding houses.
  • Car-washes
  • Driving lessons and driving test centres
  • Travel agencies
  • Estate agencies can continue to operate online but house visits are not allowed;
  • Establishments (or parts of establishments) belonging to the cultural, festive, recreational and events sector must close :
    • Casinos, amusement arcades and betting offices ;
    • wellness centres, including saunas, jacuzzis, steam rooms and hammams ;
    • discotheques and dance halls;
    • reception and party rooms;
    • amusement parks;
    • indoor playgrounds;
    • zoos and animal parks;
    • bowling alleys;
    • swimming pools and fitness centres
    • trade fairs, including exhibitions ;
    • cinemas;
    • theatres, concert halls, exhibitions,...
    • holiday villages, bungalow parks and campsites.
  • Fairgrounds, annual markets, flea markets, flea markets, Christmas markets and winter villages;
  • Receptions and banquets are prohibited, including meals and receptions after the funeral.
  • Showrooms for furniture, kitchens, bathrooms and car showrooms must be closed.
  • Door-to-door and canvassing activities of any kind are prohibited.
  • Team buildings with a live audience are forbidden. 
  • A mask (covering the nose and mouth) must be worn throughout the Brussels region;
  • The consumption of alcohol on the public highway is prohibited 24 hours a day.

 

Are admitted as an activity or can remain open

a) businesses, companies and public and private services that are considered necessary to protect the vital needs of the Nation and the needs of the population (see list in the Annex to the Ministerial Order of 1 November 2020). For example: waste collection and treatment as well as recycling parks, notaries, lawyers and bailiffs, the construction sector, plumbers/heating engineers,...

(b) establishments or parts of establishments provided that they offer mainly essential goods and provided that non-essential goods must be made inaccessible or sheltered from the public:

  • All types of accommodation (hotels, aparthotels, self-catering cottages, B&Bs, etc.) are open, with the exception of their restaurants, bars and other common facilities (e.g. swimming pool, gym, shared bathrooms, etc.).
  • Supermarkets, food shops, including night shops (but also butcher's shops, cheese shops, chocolate shops, wine shops, grocery shops, fry shops, sandwich shops, snack bars...);
  • Shops with a wider choice than essential products: opening on condition that non-essential products are made inaccessible or can only be delivered or taken away after online ordering.
  • shops selling hygiene and care products (e.g. drugstores,...);
  • pet food shops ;
  • pharmacies;
  • opticians and auditors 
  • newsagents and bookshops ;
  • petrol stations, loading docks and and fuel suppliers;
  • telecommunications shops, excluding shops selling only accessories;
  • medical device shops (e.g. bandagists);
  • DIY shops, both those with a general range and those with a specialised range;
  • garden centres and nurseries;
  • flower and plant shops;
  • Wholesale shops intended for professionals, but only for the benefit of professionals; 
  • specialised retail outlets selling clothing fabrics;
  • specialised retail shops selling knitting yarns and haberdashery;
  • stationery shops ;
  • Libraries, toy and media libraries; 
  • childcare and baby shops, only for the sale of hygiene and care products.
  • laundries and dry cleaners;
  • crèches and the caretakers; 
  • Garages, limited to breakdown and repair services, and bicycle shops, limited to maintenance and repairs. 
  • It is always possible to have a technical inspection of your vehicle, but only by appointment.
  • Markets with stalls, which offer essential goods, can only take place for the supply of these goods and subject to prior authorisation from the local authorities. Flea markets, flea markets and small Christmas markets are prohibited.
  • Foodtrucks may offer food and drinks but without consumption on site (takeaway).
  • Removals are allowed if you use a removal company. If you do it yourself, assistance is limited to 4 people while respecting the distances between you as much as possible.
  • The service of home service vouchers is maintained (household help, services, ironing centres can continue their activities, etc.).
  • Community kitchens for residential, school, living and working communities. This includes company restaurants, canteens in hospitals, prisons, schools, and rest and care homes.
  • call centres for people in need
  • Facilities for homeless and roofless people.
  • Catering and drinking establishments in airport transit areas;
  • Sanitary facilities in service areas next to motorways.
  • Places of prayer remain open, but no religious services can be held.
  • Outdoor playgrounds
  • the outdoor areas of nature parks and open-air museums, including entrance, exit, sanitary facilities and the premises for first aid and rescue
  • the external parts of the sports facilities
  • cultural places, but only for :
    • the reception of groups of children up to the age of 12, within the framework of school and extra-curricular activities in education 
    • the reception of courses and activities organised for children up to the age of 12 years
  • sports halls and sports facilities, but only:
    • as long as it is not a swimming pool, the reception of groups of children up to the age of 12 years, in the framework of school and extra-curricular activities of compulsory education;
    • as long as it is not a swimming pool, the reception of the activities, training courses and sports camps organised or authorised by the local authorities for children up to the age of 12 ;
    • training for professional sportsmen and women;
    • professional competitions; 
    • activities other than sporting activities, provided that they are are authorised by the provisions of this Order and the applicable protocols.
 
  • You are allowed to have close contact with a maximum of 1 person (always the same person). Keeping 1.5 meters distance is not necessary in that case.
  • Are you inviting someone to your home? You are allowed to invite a maximum of 1 close contact per family.
  • Do you live on your own? You are allowed to invite your close contact and one extra person to your home. These people cannot be in your house at the same time.
 
Groups of up to 4 people are allowed outside. You have to keep 1.5 meters distance.  

Faith-based services

  • The places of prayer remain open but no religious services can take place.
  • Marriages: Only the spouses, their witnesses and the registrar or the ministers of religion may attend weddings. No reception or banquet after the ceremony can be organised. 
  • Funerals: a maximum of 15 people can attend funerals (funeral home, crematorium, cemetery). Excluded are staff, priest, technician and children under 12 years old. No reception or banquet after the ceremony can be organised. Any return of the deceased to the home is forbidden. No wakes at home are allowed. All the deceased, even non-covids, must be transferred to the funeral home.
 

Teleworking at home is compulsory in all companies, associations and services for all staff members, unless this is impossible due to the nature of the job, the
continuity in the management of the company, its activities or services.

If teleworking at home cannot be applied, these companies provide staff members with a certificate or other evidence confirming the need for their presence at the workplace.

 
Curfew: between 24:00 and 5:00.
However, it is still possible to travel during the curfew for essential travel.
Curfew: from 10pm to 6am

Events and activities :

  • With the exception of sports competitions still authorised, all events are suspended.
  • The only amateur cultural and artistic activities that are still authorised are those organised as part of courses and activities for children up to the age of 12 and as part of the school and extra-curricular activities of compulsory education.
  • Conference rooms are not closed at this stage, but cultural events with an audience are suspended, so they cannot be used for, for example, debates or meetings with an audience. On the other hand, conference rooms can be used by a company, a public service, etc. to organise strictly professional meetings and when these cannot be held at a distance.
  • Demonstrations are allowed in the presence of a maximum of 100 participants. Events must always be the subject of a request for authorisation.

 

Shops :

  • Shopping is carried out alone or with a maximum of one other person in the same household or close contact. 
  • The sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in all establishments, including vending machines, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Outside this period, hotels and catering establishments may offer alcoholic drinks for delivery and/or takeaway, but only in combination with a meal.
  • Night shops: close at 10 pm.

Shops:

  • All shops close at 8pm (except Horeca for take-away until 10pm). 
  • Laundries and night shops are considered as shops and must also close at 8pm.

Sport: 

  • sports halls and sports facilities are closed. Nevertheless, sports halls and indoor sports facilities can remain open for :
    • school and extra-curricular activities, activities, courses and sports camps < 12 years old 
    • training sessions for professional sportsmen and women without an audience
    • host professional sports competitions without an audience
      activities
    • other than sporting activities, provided that they are authorised by the ministerial order and the applicable protocols
  • External parts of the sports facilities (e.g. a football pitch) remain accessible.
  • Outdoor sports: ok but with a maximum of 4 people

 

Teaching:

  • Classes are suspended and will resume on 16 November 2020 with a mix between physical and distance learning
  • In secondary education, students in grades 2 and 3 will receive a maximum of 50% distance learning until at least 1 December. An evaluation will determine whether 100% face-to-face teaching is again possible.
  • In higher education, distance education will be provided until 1 December for first-year students and until the end of the calendar year for others.

Teaching:

No school excursions for all

 

The operating rules of the Brussels rest and care homes are adapted:

  • visits will be limited to two different visitors
  • the restaurant and cafeteria will be closed to visitors and external service providers.
  • it will be forbidden to organise special activities involving external service providers

 

Source: info-coronavirus.be - Updated 3 November

WHAT ARE THE GUIDELINES FOR COMPANIES?

GENERAL PRINCIPLES

  • Teleworking at home is compulsory in all companies, associations and services for all staff members, unless this is impossible due to the nature of the function, the continuity of the management of the company, its activities or services.
  • Teleworking at home is compulsory for all artists unless this is impossible. For activities where telework is not possible, social distancing measures must be guaranteed and a certificate must be provided by the employer.
  • Where telework at home cannot be applied, companies, associations and services adopt appropriate measures to :
    • guarantee maximum compliance with the rules of social distancing, in particular the respect of a distance of 1.5 m between persons ;
    • where it is not possible to guarantee compliance with the rules on social distancing, offer at least an equivalent level of protection;
    • the employer shall provide those members of staff who cannot telework at home with a certificate or any other proof confirming the necessity of their presence at the workplace;
  • Team buildings with a face-to-face working environment are prohibited.
  • If you work in teams
    • Limit the size of teams;
    • Limit rotation in the composition of teams.

The application of these principles is ensured at the company level through the adoption of appropriate prevention measures such as those defined in the "Generic guide to prevent the spread of VIDOC-19 in the workplace", possibly supplemented by :

  • guidelines at sectoral level
  • and/or company guidelines
  • and/or other appropriate measures which offer at least an equivalent level of protection.

Collective measures always take precedence over individual measures.

BY WAY OF DEROGATION FROM THE GENERAL PRINCIPLES 

For private and public businesses, enterprises, and services that are necessary to protect the vital needs of the Nation and the needs of the population (see Annex to the AOS):

  • Teleworking at home is the rule, if possible several days a week, in all these businesses and services for all staff members whose function lends itself to it.
  • In addition, they are also obliged to implement, as far as possible, the rules of social distancing.

This derogation also applies to producers, suppliers, contractors and subcontractors of goods, works and services essential to the activity of these enterprises and services.

WHAT ABOUT EVENTS?

With the exception of sports competitions that are still allowed, all events are suspended.

CAN A CONFERENCE BE ORGANISED?

At this stage, the conference rooms are not closed, but cultural events with an audience are suspended. Therefore, the conference rooms cannot be used for, for example, debates or meetings with an audience. On the other hand, conference rooms can be used by a company, a public service,... to organise strictly professional meetings and when these cannot be held at a distance. In addition, everyone is required to wear a mask or any other fabric alternative in the conference rooms.

CAN TRAINING GIVEN OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL CONTEXT BE CONTINUED?

The necessary training of staff is allowed within the working community, if possible through distance learning and in any case in compliance with the health rules applicable in the workplace.

WHAT ABOUT RECEPTIONS AND BANQUETS?

Receptions and banquets are prohibited, including meals and receptions after funerals.

WHAT SOCIAL CONTACTS ARE ALLOWED?

RECENT MEASURES

  • You can meet anyone you want. Always keep a distance of 1.5 metres or wear a mouth mask.
  • You can have close contact with a maximum of 1 person, always the same person. A distance of 1.5 metres is then not necessary. Children under the age of 12 and people with whom you live together are not taken into account.
  • Are you inviting people into your home? You can invite a maximum of 4 people per two-week period. Children under the age of 12 are not taken into account.
  • Do you gather in the street? The maximum number of people allowed is 4. Children under the age of 12 are not taken into account.

THE 6 GOLDEN RULES AGAINST COVID-19

  • Observe hygiene precautions
  • Prefer outdoor activities
  • Think about vulnerable people
  • Keep a distance of 1.5m from other people.
  • Limit your close contacts
  • Respect the rules concerning gatherings

NEED PSYCHO-SOCIAL SUPPORT?

During a crisis such as the Covid-19, it is normal to feel stressed, disoriented, anxious, depressed or angry. On the website info-coronavirus.be you will find a list of organisations, initiatives and professional care providers who can help you.

Updated on 3 November 2020

WHAT ABOUT JOURNEYS ?

In Belgium

  • You are allowed to move around freely.
  • If you are using public transport (bus, tram or train) and are you older than 12 years of age, wear a face mask or a scarf covering your mouth and nose.
  • You are not allowed to be on the street between midnight and 5 AM.

On holiday abroad

Do you have a question about journeys ?

2. Assistance for companies, retailers and the self-employed

Which federal measures exist to support companies ?

1. TEMPORARY UNEMPLOYMENT: SIMPLIFICATION

!! Update: 23 March: 

If you have any questions about temporary unemployment, have a look at the FAQ (pdf) produced by ONEM (the national employment office) (date of publication: 23/03/2020). 

!! Update: 20 March: 

Last Friday, the cabinet approved a second phase of its social and economic safeguarding plan set up to combat the coronavirus crisis. All claims for temporary unemployment relating to Covid-19, filed by blue-collar workers or salaried employees, shall be processed as a claim due to a force majeure event. This is the “corona procedure”.

1. SIMPLIFICATION OF THE FORMALITIES FOR EMPLOYERS

  • For as long as the restrictive measures are in place (provisionally, up until and including 05/04/2020), the employer is no longer required to send notification of temporary unemployment due to force majeure to the competent ONEM unemployment office. This period is likely to be extended until 30/06/2020 if the health measures taken by the Government are extended or enhanced.
  • If, for the period commencing on 13/03/2020, the employer indicates “force majeure” as the reason for the temporary unemployment in DRS scenario 5 (=electronic declaration of social risk in which the employer specifies the number of days during which the employee shall be in temporary unemployment) (using code 5.4 for “type of day” and “coronavirus” as the reason), then this action is equivalent to completing the mandatory notification.

This procedure is valid even if the employer had previously submitted notification of temporary unemployment due to force majeure for the period commencing on 13/03/2020 or had submitted notification of temporary unemployment for economic reasons.

Any employer who had initially submitted notification of temporary unemployment for economic reason can thus switch to the temporary unemployment due to force majeure regime (reason: “coronavirus”) without having to complete any other formalities, and even if some employees can still work or if employees can work on some days only.

  • If the employer indicates “economic reasons” as the reason for the temporary unemployment in DRS scenario 5 (using code 5.1 for “type of day”), the existing procedures then continue to apply (notification of temporary unemployment for economic reasons, notification of the first day of actual unemployment, mandatory week of work, etc.).
  • The employer is required to submit a DRS scenario 5 as quickly as possible (based on which ONEM can also determine the value of the benefits to be paid to the temporarily unemployed person). The employer must not wait until the end of the month, and instead must complete the formalities during the current month, as soon as all the information is known about the situation up until the end of the month.
  • During the period from 01/03/2020 to 30/06/2020 inclusive, the employer is not required to provide a control card (C3.2A) to employees made temporarily unemployed, and irrespective of the reason for the temporary unemployment. 
  • For more information, refer to info sheet E1 Coronavirus – Employers

Do not hesitate to contact your service supplier you use to administer your payroll since in some cases they can complete certain formalities for you. 

2. SIMPLIFICATION OF THE FORMALITIES FOR EMPLOYEES

  • To file a claim for benefits to the paying-out organisation, the employee has to option to use a simplified form (form C3.2 – EMPLOYEE-CORONA
  • Any employee made temporarily unemployed due to force majeure is eligible for unemployment benefits without needing to satisfy any eligibility conditions. During the period from 01/02/2020 to 30/06/2020 inclusive, this measure shall also apply to any employee made temporarily unemployed for economic reasons.
  • From 01/02/2020 to 30/06/2020, the employee receives benefit equivalent to 70 % of his or her average salary (capped at an upper limit of €2,754.76 per month). Any employee made temporarily unemployed due to force majeure (reason: “coronavirus”) receives, in addition to unemployment benefit, a supplement of €5.63 per day, i.e. 150 euros per month, paid out by ONEM.
    A payroll tax of 26.75 % shall be deducted from this benefit.
  • For more information, refer to info sheet T2 Coronavirus – Employees

Note that self-employed persons and “professions libérales” (service-based, self-employed occupations that are primarily intellectual or technical in nature, such as lawyers and accountants) cannot be made temporarily unemployed due to force majeure (another type of replacement income exists for them: see below).

!! Update: 19 March: 

  • Employees working in sheltered workshops, supported employment workshops and “maatwerkbedrijven” (CP 327) can also be made temporarily unemployed due to force majeure.
  • Employees in the social profit sector required to operate in accordance with the rules applicable to the private sector may also be made temporarily unemployed due to force majeure.
  • Service voucher entities which close on a voluntary basis as a consequence of the coronavirus crisis may make their employees temporarily unemployed due to force majeure. Companies which stay open may also make temporarily unemployed due to force majeure any employees who cannot work due to the cancellation of projects or work by customers, if they cannot work for a full day.

!! Update: 18 March:

In view of the surge in the number of claims for temporary unemployment relating to the coronavirus epidemic and in view of the measures taken to limit the spread of the virus, the government has decided to award everyone for whom a new temporary unemployment file to be created, an immediately-available lump-sum payment of 1,450 euros per month to ensure that they are provided for pending the creation of their file. The "lump sum" awarded to "new" temporarily unemployed people, who have not previously used the system, is not supplemental to the income provided during the period of temporary unemployment. Once the employee is integrated into the system and the claim has been processed, the balance is calculated and paid, where applicable, to the individual concerned. 

2. BRIDGING RIGHT: PROVISION OF A FORM OF REPLACEMENT INCOME FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED (PARACHUTE PAYMENTS): TEMPORARY CRISIS MEASURE

!! Update: 17 august

Since May 2020, many self-employed persons whose activity has been prohibited or limited by the closure measures imposed by the Government, can resume their self-employed activity. During the months of August, September and October these self-employed workers can make use of the new bridging right to support recovery.

Those who cannot yet resume their activities can still qualify for the existing temporary Corona bridging right during the months of August, September, October, November and December 2020 in the following situations, but under stricter conditions. More info on the NISSE site (French or Dutch only)

!! Update: 2 July

Since May 2020, many self-employed persons can resume their self-employed activity. During the months of June, July and August, these self-employed workers can make use of the new bridging right to support recovery. Those who cannot yet resume their activities can still qualify for the existing temporary Corona bridging right during the months of July and August 2020 in the following situations, but under stricter conditions. More info on the NISSE site (French or Dutch only)

!! Update: 25 May

It was decided in the Cabinet on Saturday 25 April to extend the bridging law up to and including 30 June.
Do you wish to benefit from the Corona bridging right in June? Then you have to submit a new application, even if you have already benefited from the Corona bridging right before. There is therefore no automatic renewal.

!! Update: 27 April

It was decided in the Cabinet on Saturday 25 April to extend the bridging law up to and including 31 May.
The bridging law is being tacitly extended for activities falling under the mandatory closure measures. Even if these self-employed persons may resume their activities on 4 May or at a later date during the month of May, they will have to contend with the bridging law for this month. For self-employed persons not falling under the mandatory closure measures, but having voluntarily interrupted their activities, the measures are also being tacitly extended. In order to have a right to the payment for May, they must interrupt their activities for at least 7 consecutive days in May, as is the case in previous months.

!! Update: 10 April

As a consequence of the coronavirus crisis, the conditions for the award of parachute payments have been relaxed for cases where the claim is made due to force majeure (3rd scenario in which parachute payments can be authorised).

As a full-time self-employed person (“à titre principal”) (including co-workers, co-workers who live with the self-employed person (in “maxi-status”), and (first-time) start-ups), you can be considered for temporary Corona parachute payments in the following situations:

  • To comply with health protection measures, the authorities have forced you to cease trading either totally or partially. You are immediately considered for parachute payments. No minimum period of cessation of trading has to be satisfied. This provision applies, for example, to self-employed people who are obliged to close their place of business (such as a restaurant, café, or non-food retail outlet) or whose work requires face-to-face contact. Restaurants which prepare or deliver takeaway meals also fall into this category.
  • The authorities have not obliged you to cease your activity partially or totally, however, you feel forced to halt your activity as a result of the corona crisis for a period of at least 7 successive calendar days. Those concerned in this case may, for example, be the self-employed who cease trading due to being quarantined, insufficient resources or various reasons of an economic or organizational nature (relating to COVID-19). Self-employed people exercising a health-related profession, such as physiotherapists, dentists and specialist doctors fall into this category.

The following self-employed persons may be eligible for the financial support payments in full:

  • full-time self-employed persons (“à titre principal”) (including co-workers, co-workers who live with the self-employed person and (first-time) start-ups);
  • part-time self-employed persons (“à titre complémentaire”) liable for provisional social security contributions that are at least equal to the minimum contributions paid by the full-time self-employed;
  • full-time self-employed persons considered to be equivalent to part-time self-employed persons (under art. 37 RGS) and liable for provisional social security contributions that are at least equal to the minimum contributions paid by the full-time self-employed;
  • students also working in a self-employed capacity and liable for provisional social security contributions that are at least equal to the minimum contributions paid by the full-time self-employed.

The following self-employed persons may be eligible for a part percentage of the financial support payments:

  • part-time self-employed persons liable for provisional social security contributions calculated based on a reference income of between 6,996.89 euros and 13,993.77 euros;
  • full-time self-employed persons considered to be equivalent to part-time self-employed persons (under art. 37 RGS) and liable for provisional social security contributions calculated based on a reference income of between 6,996.89 euros and 7,330.52 euros;
  • students also working in a self-employed capacity and liable for provisional social security contributions calculated based on a reference income of between 6,996.89 euros and 13,993.77 euros;
  • active self-employed persons, also receiving a pension, liable for provisional social security contributions calculated based on a reference income of more than 6,996.89 euros.

Note: unlike certain typical scenarios in which transitional rights are awarded (resulting in the payment of parachute payments), a certificate from ONEM proving that you are ineligible for unemployment benefit is not required when accessing corona parachute payments.

The corona parachute payment financial support scheme has been set up to pay the following monthly amount for March and April (full entitlement):

  • 1,291.69 EUR per month if you do not have dependents;
  • 1,614.10 EUR per month if you have dependents.

For self-employed persons eligible for part payment of the financial support, the payment for March and April is:

  • 645.85 EUR per month if you do not have dependents;
  • 807.05 EUR per month if you have dependents.

Transitional rights (parachute payments) are taxed at the progressive taxation rates set for the standard collection of personal income tax. However, these rights (payments) are not considered when calculating the contributions paid by the self-employed.

Under certain conditions, the financial support may be paid as a supplement to another source of replacement income (pension, (temporary) unemployment benefit, sickness benefit).

Please note: For self-employed persons who may be eligible for part payment of the financial support, the total value of the partial payment of the “Corona parachute payment” plus other replacement income cannot exceed 1,614.10 euro per month. If this amount is exceeded, the monthly value of the part payment of the “Corona parachute payment” will be reduced.

If awarded, the March payment shall be paid at the start of April, and the April payment at the start of May 2020.

You are still liable for your social security contributions, which allow you to maintain your entitlement to social security rights. If you are having difficulties paying these contributions, you can ask for your provisional social security contributions to be reduced or for their payment to be deferred or for your social security contributions to be waived.

FILING A REQUEST FOR PARACHUTE PAYMENTS BECAUSE OF THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS 

To claim parachute payments because of the coronavirus crisis, send the completed claim form to your “caisse d'assurances sociales” (social insurance provider). You must not sign the form electronically.
More information or contact your “caisse d'assurances sociales” (social insurance provider)

3. Postponement of the payments owed to the National Social Security Office (RSZ)

Due to the coronavirus epidemic, the government has implemented a number of measures since 20 March 2020. One of these measures concerns the postponement of payments to the RSZ until 15 December 2020. 
These measures refer to three types of payment postponement.

  • Automatic postponement for companies subject to mandatory closure
  • Postponement following a sworn declaration for companies that decided to fully close themselves
  • Postponement following a sworn declaration for companies that are not fully closed but have had their economic activities severely curtailed

Companies not involved in the automatic postponement or postponement following a prior declaration. More info on the ONSS site.

4. DEFERMENT OF THE CUT-OFF DATE FOR SUBMITTING ISOC, IPM AND INR-SOC RETURNS WITH A DUE DATE OF 16 MARCH TO 30 APRIL 2020 INCLUSIVE 

!! Update: 19 March:

The tax return deadline has been extended until midnight on Thursday 30 April. 2020 This applies to taxpayers submitting their returns for ISOC (corporation tax), IPM (tax paid by entities not subject to corporation tax) and INR-SOC (tax paid by non-residents/foreign companies). 
This deferment applies only to tax returns whose submission deadline is from 16 March and 30 April 2020 inclusive
More information

5. DEFERMENT OF THE DEADLINE FOR 5. SUBMITTING VAT RETURNS

The deferment details are specified on the FPS Finances website.

6. PAYMENT PLAN FOR EMPLOYER’S SOCIAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTIONS

Since this relates to the payment of social security contributions due for the first and second quarters of 2020, the Covid-19 crisis shall be accepted as justification for opening discussions to reach mutually-agreed payment deadline extensions.
More information

7. PAYMENT PLAN FOR VAT

On condition that the creditor can demonstrate that its difficulties in making the payments are a result of Covid-19, the VAT payments can be spread out and the usual fines can be waived.

!! Update: 19 March:
An automatic two-month deferment of the payment deadline for VAT has been granted, and no fines or late-payment interest shall be charged.
More information:

8. PAYMENT PLAN FOR PAYROLL TAXES

It shall also be possible to spread out payroll tax payments and to benefit from the waiving of the usual fines, under the same conditions.

!! Update: 19 March: An automatic two-month deferment of the payment deadline for payroll taxes has been granted, and no fines or late-payment interest shall be charged.
More information

9. PAYMENT PLAN FOR PERSONAL INCOME TAX/CORPORATION TAX

On condition that the taxpayer can demonstrate that its difficulties in making the payments are a result of Covid-19, a request may be made to defer the payment of personal income tax and of corporation tax.

Update: 19 March: An additional two-month extension shall automatically be granted, in addition to the normal delay, for the payment of personal income tax, corporation tax, tax paid by entities not subject to corporation tax and tax paid by non-residents. This measure applies to the tax calculated for the 2019 tax year, determined as of 12 March 2020. 
More information

10. REDUCTION IN PAYMENTS ON ACCOUNT FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED

If a self-employed person calculates, during the course of the year, that his or her income is less than that used as the basis for the calculation of the contributions, he or she may ask to pay a reduced contribution.
More information

11. DEFERMENT OF OR EXEMPTION FROM SOCIAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTIONS FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED

With regard to social security contributions for the first two quarters of 2020, a one-year deferment with no late-payment interest charged and exemption from social security contribution payments will be authorised. Once again, eligibility is dependent on the self-employed person demonstrating that the difficulties relate to Covid-19.
More information

12. new financial guarantee: credendo bridge guarantee

The Belgian economy is one of the most open economies in the world and its exports represent over 85% of the Belgian GDP. Therefore, it is crucial to support internationally active Belgian enterprises during the covid-19 crisis. 

In this context, Credendo – the Belgian export credit agency – launched new initiatives in order to ensure that enterprises continue to have access to bank credit and credit insurance in these difficult times. The European authorities have just approved these two support measures in favour of the Belgian economy and internationally active enterprises.
Credendo is now offering a new financial guarantee, the ‘Credendo Bridge Guarantee’ which aims at ensuring that enterprises, and SMEs in particular, can obtain the necessary bank credit in these challenging times. Credendo guarantees up to 80% of bridging loans for a maximum duration of one year and a maximum amount of 10 million euros per enterprise. Thanks to this guarantee, internationally active enterprises can obtain credit more easily, and credit amounts can be higher, while the bank granting the credit facility will have a larger capacity and more comfort.

As this new financial guarantee has a very clearly defined scope, please read the requirements (EN, FR, NL) carefully.

f you want to apply for the Credendo Bridge Guarantee, please send a completed word version and an executed pdf version of the application form to CBG@credendo.com.

More info on https://www.credendo.com/covid-19

13. FLEXIBILITY IN THE PERFORMANCE OF FEDERAL PUBLIC CONTRACTS

The federal state will not invoke penalties or sanctions against service providers, companies and the self-employed with regard to the performance of all federal public contracts so long as it can be demonstrated that the cause of the delay or failure to perform is Covid-19.

Update 2 July

What measures are planned to support the self-employed?

Self-employed persons who are facing difficulties as a result of coronavirus may apply for the support provided by the following measures.

Bridging right: PROVISION OF A FORM OF REPLACEMENT INCOME FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED (PARACHUTE PAYMENTS): TEMPORARY CRISIS MEASURE

!! Update: 17 august

Since May 2020, many self-employed persons whose activity has been prohibited or limited by the closure measures imposed by the Government, can resume their self-employed activity. During the months of August, September and October these self-employed workers can make use of the new bridging right to support recovery.

Those who cannot yet resume their activities can still qualify for the existing temporary Corona bridging right during the months of August, September, October, November and December 2020 in the following situations, but under stricter conditions. More info on the NISSE site (French or Dutch only)

!! Update: 2 July

Since May 2020, many self-employed persons can resume their self-employed activity. During the months of June, July and August, these self-employed workers can make use of the new bridging right to support recovery. Those who cannot yet resume their activities can still qualify for the existing temporary Corona bridging right during the months of July and August 2020 in the following situations, but under stricter conditions. More info on the NISSE site (French or Dutch only)

!! Update: 25 May

It was decided in the Cabinet on Saturday 25 April to extend the bridging law up to and including 30 June.
Do you wish to benefit from the Corona bridging right in June? Then you have to submit a new application, even if you have already benefited from the Corona bridging right before. There is therefore no automatic renewal.

!! Update: 27 April

It was decided in the Cabinet on Saturday 25 April to extend the bridging law up to and including 31 May.
The bridging law is being tacitly extended for activities falling under the mandatory closure measures. Even if these self-employed persons may resume their activities on 4 May or at a later date during the month of May, they will have to contend with the bridging law for this month. For self-employed persons not falling under the mandatory closure measures, but having voluntarily interrupted their activities, the measures are also being tacitly extended. In order to have a right to the payment for May, they must interrupt their activities for at least 7 consecutive days in May, as is the case in previous months.

!! Update: 10 April

As a consequence of the coronavirus crisis, the conditions for the award of parachute payments have been relaxed for cases where the claim is made due to force majeure (3rd scenario in which parachute payments can be authorised).

As a full-time self-employed person (“à titre principal”) (including co-workers, co-workers who live with the self-employed person (in “maxi-status”), and (first-time) start-ups), you can be considered for temporary Corona parachute payments in the following situations:

  • To comply with health protection measures, the authorities have forced you to cease trading either totally or partially. You are immediately considered for parachute payments. No minimum period of cessation of trading has to be satisfied. This provision applies, for example, to self-employed people who are obliged to close their place of business (such as a restaurant, café, or non-food retail outlet) or whose work requires face-to-face contact. Restaurants which prepare or deliver takeaway meals also fall into this category.
  • The authorities have not obliged you to cease your activity partially or totally, however, you feel forced to halt your activity as a result of the corona crisis for a period of at least 7 successive calendar days. Those concerned in this case may, for example, be the self-employed who cease trading due to being quarantined, insufficient resources or various reasons of an economic or organizational nature (relating to COVID-19). Self-employed people exercising a health-related profession, such as physiotherapists, dentists and specialist doctors fall into this category.

The following self-employed persons may be eligible for the financial support payments in full:

  • full-time self-employed persons (“à titre principal”) (including co-workers, co-workers who live with the self-employed person and (first-time) start-ups);
  • part-time self-employed persons (“à titre complémentaire”) liable for provisional social security contributions that are at least equal to the minimum contributions paid by the full-time self-employed;
  • full-time self-employed persons considered to be equivalent to part-time self-employed persons (under art. 37 RGS) and liable for provisional social security contributions that are at least equal to the minimum contributions paid by the full-time self-employed;
  • students also working in a self-employed capacity and liable for provisional social security contributions that are at least equal to the minimum contributions paid by the full-time self-employed.

The following self-employed persons may be eligible for a part percentage of the financial support payments:

  • part-time self-employed persons liable for provisional social security contributions calculated based on a reference income of between 6,996.89 euros and 13,993.77 euros;
  • full-time self-employed persons considered to be equivalent to part-time self-employed persons (under art. 37 RGS) and liable for provisional social security contributions calculated based on a reference income of between 6,996.89 euros and 7,330.52 euros;
  • students also working in a self-employed capacity and liable for provisional social security contributions calculated based on a reference income of between 6,996.89 euros and 13,993.77 euros;
  • active self-employed persons, also receiving a pension, liable for provisional social security contributions calculated based on a reference income of more than 6,996.89 euros.

Note: unlike certain typical scenarios in which transitional rights are awarded (resulting in the payment of parachute payments), a certificate from ONEM proving that you are ineligible for unemployment benefit is not required when accessing corona parachute payments.

The corona parachute payment financial support scheme has been set up to pay the following monthly amount for March and April (full entitlement):

  • 1,291.69 EUR per month if you do not have dependents;
  • 1,614.10 EUR per month if you have dependents.

For self-employed persons eligible for part payment of the financial support, the payment for March and April is:

  • 645.85 EUR per month if you do not have dependents;
  • 807.05 EUR per month if you have dependents.

Transitional rights (parachute payments) are taxed at the progressive taxation rates set for the standard collection of personal income tax. However, these rights (payments) are not considered when calculating the contributions paid by the self-employed.

Under certain conditions, the financial support may be paid as a supplement to another source of replacement income (pension, (temporary) unemployment benefit, sickness benefit).

Please note: For self-employed persons who may be eligible for part payment of the financial support, the total value of the partial payment of the “Corona parachute payment” plus other replacement income cannot exceed 1,614.10 euro per month. If this amount is exceeded, the monthly value of the part payment of the “Corona parachute payment” will be reduced.

If awarded, the March payment shall be paid at the start of April, and the April payment at the start of May 2020.

You are still liable for your social security contributions, which allow you to maintain your entitlement to social security rights. If you are having difficulties paying these contributions, you can ask for your provisional social security contributions to be reduced or for their payment to be deferred or for your social security contributions to be waived.

FILING A REQUEST FOR PARACHUTE PAYMENTS BECAUSE OF THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS 

To claim parachute payments because of the coronavirus crisis, send the completed claim form to your “caisse d'assurances sociales” (social insurance provider). You must not sign the form electronically.
More information
Or contact your “caisse d'assurances sociales” (social insurance provider)

DEFERMENT OF SOCIAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTIONS AND WAIVING OF SURCHARGES

The full-time self-employed and co-workers who live with the self-employed person who are affected by the consequences of coronavirus may submit a written request to their social insurance provider to defer for one year the payment of their provisional social security contributions, with no surcharges applied to their account, and with no impact on the services provided.

This measure applies to the provisional contributions for the first and second quarters of 2020.

This request must be submitted:

  • Before 31/3/2020 to request a deferment of the payment of contributions for the first and second quarters of 2020;
  • Before 15/6/2020 to request a deferment of the payment of contributions for the second quarter of 2020.

The request must include, as a minimum, the following information:

  • the surname, first name and home address (domicile) of the person concerned;
  • the name and head office of the business;
  • the company registration number.

Please note: If the contribution concerned is not paid in full before the due date specified, surcharges shall be due for the quarters concerned and the cost of the services wrongfully received shall be recovered.

Do you need more information? Contact your “caisse d'assurances sociales” (social insurance provider).

REDUCTION IN PROVISIONAL SOCIAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTIONS

Self-employed people who face difficulties as a result of coronavirus may request a reduction in their provisional social security contributions for 2020 if their professional income is below one of the legal thresholds.

Do you need more information? Contact your “caisse d'assurances sociales” (social insurance provider).

WAIVING OF SOCIAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTIONS

Full-time self-employed persons and co-workers who live with a self-employed person who are unable to pay their social security contributions may ask for their contributions to be waived.

Contributions may be waived in full or in part.

You can request the waiving of provisional contributions or of any balancing contributions due as a result of correcting for known previous-year professional income.

Please note: Have you used the online service to submit your contributions-related request? If you have, you are advised to send a notification email to mailbox-dvr@rsvz-inasti.fgov.be which should speed up the processing of the request.

Do you need more information?

Waiving of surcharges (article 48 RGS)
E-mail: mailbox-rek@rsvz-inasti.fgov.be 
Tel. +32 2 546 45 95

Waiving of contributions
E-mail: mailbox-dvr@rsvz-inasti.fgov.be
Tel. +32 2 546 60 20

Or contact your “caisse d'assurances sociales” (social insurance provider).

SICKNESS AND INABILITY TO WORK

Healthcare costs incurred by self-employed persons and their family are reimbursed by the mutual fund provider.

Self-employed persons who are unable to work for at least 8 days are eligible for sickness benefit paid out by the mutual fund provider from the first day onwards.

In some cases, you can ask for your social security contributions to be waived for the duration of the sickness (“assimilation pour cause de maladie” (you can still access services, but do not make payments)).

Source: INASTI Updated on 2 July

What measures have been taken for Brussels entrepreneurs?

These are the measures that are still valid on 10 September:

1. Support of cash flow issues

Strong support to relieve cash-flow issues faced by companies affected by coronavirus, through the granting of public guarantees (via the Brussels Guarantee Fund) for bank loans, for a total of 20 million euros.
Note: the Brussels guarantee will complement the State guarantee, as soon as the modalities of the latter are defined (work still in progress).

2. loans for the hospitality sector

At the request of the Government, finance&invest.brussels supports, through loans, restaurants, cafés, hotels and their suppliers who are affected by the coronavirus crisis.  More specifically, this concerns :

  • A low-interest subordinated loan for Brussels hospitality businesses employing at least 10 FTEs. The basic criteria to be eligible for aid :
    • the applicant is negatively and significantly affected by the VIDOC crisis19 ;
    • the applicant will be presumed viable following the granting of the loan;
    • the applicant has taken the necessary steps to benefit from the other measures put in place in the context of this crisis.

  • A subordinated loan at a reduced rate for key suppliers in the Brussels hospitality sector, enabling them to offer a payment period to businesses in the hospitality sector.  In addition to the basic criteria mentioned above, be aware that :

    • Priority will be given to those which provide the most essential goods or services for the continuity of the activity of Brussels hospitality sector and which have the largest volume of Brussels hospitality businesses among their clientele.
      Note: the number of FTEs is not a criterion in this case.

Characteristics of the loan : 

  • The rates depend on the amount and are a minimum of 2% and a maximum of 3.6%; 
  • Possibility of a moratorium (payment term, excluding interest) of 6 to 12 months; 
  • No repurchase indemnity if refinanced or repaid early; 
  • No pari passu;
  • No negative pledge (= English term refers to a clause inserted in a credit agreement which prohibits the establishment of new guarantees in favour of other creditors on all or part of the assets and property owned by the debtor. The purpose of a negative pledge is to maintain the quality of the security given to the original creditor compared to new lenders. Here, there is no such clause, which is a real advantage).

If you meet the above criteria and wish to make use of these new credits, please send an e-mail to coronacontact@finance.brussels with the following information:

  • Company name
  • VAT number 
  • Sector of activity
  • Phone number

With this tool, the Government is targeting large hospitality businesses and hotels with 50 or more employees. For small businesses, a bonus of 4,000 euros has already been introduced by the region (see above).

3. MICROCREDIT: RECOVERY LOAN

Since Tuesday 26 May, a new measure has come into force. The aim of this measure is to strengthen microcredits by enabling BRUSOC to grant a cash credit of up to 15,000 euros at a reduced rate to the self-employed, very small enterprises (micro-enterprises) and social enterprises.
RECOVER is an emergency loan that helps to reduce cash flow tensions and to promote the restart and development of economic activities impacted by the current crisis.

HOW much? 
  • Loan of maximum 15.000 Euros
  •  Redeemable over a maximum of 3 years
  • Fixed interest rate of 1.75%.
FOR WHOM?

The companies that can apply for this loan are all companies that have been impacted by the Covid-19 crisis and need cash.

Are concerned:

  • companies as a natural person: independent as a main or complementary activity.
  • companies taking over all legal forms of commercial companies.

! Attention, this is a cash loan. This loan must therefore be allocated to the following items:

  • Reconstitution of working capital
  • Acquisition of inventories
  • Payment of arrears

This loan is therefore exclusively intended to meet the company's cash flow requirements. Any financing of tangible and/or intangible investment is excluded.

UNDER WHAT CONDITIONS?

The eligibility criteria are as follows:

FOR COMPANIES MORE THAN 2 YEARS OLD: 

a) For commercial companies, at least 2 of these 3 criteria must be met:

  • Company growing between 2018 and 2019;
  • Positive result on 31.12.2019;
  • Positive equity capital.

b) For companies as a natural person, the following criteria must be met:

  • The company must show a profit as at 31/12/19 ;
  • Turnover growth between 2018 and 2019.

FOR COMPANIES LESS THAN 2 YEARS OLD :

  • If applicable, the last published balance sheet (or the warning statement for the natural person);
  • A recent accounting situation certified by the accountant;
  • The financial plan drawn up at the time of the company's incorporation.

The exclusion criteria are:

  • Denunciation of a credit by a financial institution ;
  • Tax and social security debts due for more than 2 quarters before the Covid-19 crisis, except if the settlement plan(s) is (are) accepted and proof that it (they) is (are) respected.

Guarantee: Personal guarantee

No application fee

HOW TO PROCEED?

Send your email exclusively to the following address: covidbrusoc@hub.brussels. You will then receive a link to a form to be completed.

Below is the list of documents to prepare in order to attach them to the form ! Please note: only applications accompanied by all the documents will be analysed.

  • All of your 2018, 2019 and 2020 VAT returns;
  • If applicable, the detailed annual accounts for 2017 and 2018 (or the notice and statement of account for the individual);
  • An accounting situation as at 31/12/2019, certified by the accountant;
  • A sworn statement concerning your tax, ONSS and VAT debts;
  • A sworn declaration concerning the absence of a credit denunciation by a financial institution before 13/03/2020 (if a company) or the BNB certificate (if self-employed as a natural person);
  • If your company is less than two years old, the financial plan drawn up when the company was set up;
  • A copy of both sides of your identity card;
  • A copy of the complete articles of association of the company.

4. support for the touristic cultural and creative sector in brussels

The Brussels Government has therefore decided to grant :

 

In order to support the cultural and creative sector in Brussels, which has been heavily affected by the health crisis and its consequences, the Brussels Government proposes the following measures:

  • The Government is launching a series of support funds so that the tourist, cultural and events sector can bounce back :
    • Brussels B2C events: festivals, public events, ...
    • Touchless technologies: online ticketing, remote audio system, ...
    • Health & Safety' label: tourist, cultural and heritage attractions
    • Congresses, meetings, B2B events: organizers
    • Digital technologies: new expectations of customers and visitors
    • More information on these support funds
  • In addition to the measures taken by the Brussels Government, the Government of the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (FR) has approved an emergency loan from the St'art investment fund to support the cash flow of cultural and creative businesses.  This emergency loan is intended for all cultural and creative enterprises in sectors that aim at the creation, development, production, reproduction, promotion, distribution or sale of goods, services and activities with a cultural, artistic and/or historical content. This product would be available for a period of 6 months (extendable by 6 months if necessary) for an amount of 20,000 to 100,000 euros at a fixed rate of 2%. More info about this product can be found here (FR).  In addition, it is also planned to grant deferral of payment for outstanding loans (interest and capital) upon application by the companies concerned.  
    On 16 April, a number of additional measures were taken to increase the cash reserves of the players in the creation chain. More information can be found here (in French). 

5. Support for activity cooperatives and their member-entrepreneurs

The objective of this mission is to support, in the context of the crisis of COVID-19, entrepreneurs who have chosen to carry out their activity within an activity cooperative, as this choice has the consequence of excluding them from the single premium (4000 euros) and compensatory premium (2000 euros) adopted by the Brussels Government. Indeed, these premiums require a company number of their own, whereas the entrepreneurs of an activity cooperative all use the cooperative's unique company number.

The Brussels activity cooperatives are as follows: SMartCoop, ISIS-DiES, BRUCOOP, SATICOOP and RCoop. These cooperatives are innovative structures, with a social purpose, which allow entrepreneurship with a safety net and mutualisation of charges.

In concrete terms, loans can be granted to entrepreneurs of the cooperative concerned who have a territorial link with the Brussels-Capital Region. These loans amount to a maximum of 25,000 euros. They are granted at a maximum interest rate of 1% and for a maximum period of five years.

The entrepreneur will have to submit his loan application directly to the cooperative of which he is a member.  

6. ACCELERATION OF APPLICATIONS for ECONOMIC EXPANSION Subsidies

The accelerated or even anticipatory processing, decision-making and payment of subsidies for economic expansion (for applications currently being analysed by Brussels Economy and Employment) for the following sectors: hospitality, tourism, events and culture; 

7. Emergency support for brussels companies

Since Tuesday, April 28th, a regional team of coaches with a variety of expertise has been set up to help you manage this crisis and direct you to the appropriate partners.

Fields of intervention

  1. Coaching
  2. Accounting & financing
  3. Administrative procedures
  4. Thematic expertise
  5. Export
  6. Mediation & Law

On the hub.brussels website, you will find details of the possible interventions in each area.

Who is this service for? 
This service is aimed at companies:

  • with an economic activity in the Brussels-Capital Region
  • whose activity is impacted by the coronavirus
  • who specifically wish to receive support in one of the above-mentioned areas

If you are interested in this accompaniment, please fill out this questionnaire (change language in the upper right corner). This questionnaire is completely confidential and will allow the team to clearly identify the problems encountered.

Please note! This guide does not cover questions relating to federal and regional premiums and measures. These questions should be asked directly to 1819 via n°1819 or by e-mail via info@1819.brussels.

The emergency support team brings together the combined expertise of key regional players, including the Centre for Enterprises in Difficulty (CED) and hub.brussels, which coordinates this regional team. More locally, the Guichets d'Economie Locale (GEL) and Plate-formes d'Auto Création d'Emploi (ACE) are also expected to join the team.
finance&invest.brussels, a stakeholder in the collaboration, acts as a provider of financial solutions for companies.

8. Social economy and service voucher sector

Although they are normally excluded from economic aid, social economy companies working in the field of integration may benefit from all the provisions put in place to support the Brussels economy as it faces the Covid-19 crisis.  

Update 22 June: Measures to support the service voucher sector are extended until 30 June 2020. More information

Update: 14 April: three measures are planned to support home cleaners and service voucher entities:

  • Support for home helps/cleaners: home helps/cleaners employed through service voucher entities whose head office is in the Brussels region and who work within the Region may receive, in addition to temporary unemployment benefits, a supplemental allowance of €2.5 (gross) per hour of temporary unemployment. 
  • A fixed sum for each service voucher entity: a fixed-sum support of €4,000 has been granted to service voucher entities whose head office is in the Brussels-Capital Region. 
  • An increase in the regional intervention subsidy: to allow entities to make provision for sufficient protection for home helps/cleaners and users, the entities shall receive, for the duration of the crisis, an intervention subsidy of €16.60 per service voucher, which is €2 more than the previous figure of €14.60.

9. Foreign trade

The fight against coronavirus has prevented companies from participating in certain international events and activities, booked as part of an internationalisation project. If the company has not been able to obtain a refund, it can apply for a subsidy from the Region, under certain conditions. This subsidy amounts to a maximum of €2,500.
More information and the application form can be found on the website of Brussels Economy & Employment.

10. the proxi-loan: citizen savings to support sme's

The "Proxi" loan aims to mobilise citizen savings for the benefit of SME financing via a tax credit on one or more loans granted by a Brussels resident to an SME.  In concrete terms, the Proxi Loan allows the borrower (the self-employed person or the manager of an SME with an economic activity established in the Brussels-Capital Region) to take out a loan at a reduced rate for a fixed period of 5 or 8 years from a private individual (close relative, family or any other person interested in his or her activity...), with a maximum ceiling of 250,000 euros for the borrower. More info

11. property taxes

Following the submission of a proposal by the Minister of Finance and Budgets, Sven Gatz, the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region has approved a draft decree that would introduce a 2-month extension to the payment deadlines for property taxes for the 2020 tax year. This would give the taxpayers concerned more financial margin for manoeuvre in the context of the on-going COVID-19 health crisis. The terms and conditions of the payment plans will also be relaxed.

Source: 1819, Brussel Government - update:  September 2020

Are there support measures for non-profit organisations?

NON-PROFITS COMPARED TO OTHER TYPES OF COMPANIES

Non-profits can benefit from the same tax and social aid as other types of companies. For example:

  • Temporary unemployment due to force majeure, including for ACS contracts (without losing points)
  • Deferment of NSSO contribution payments upon request and under certain conditions
  • Automatic deferment of payments of payroll taxes for two months
  • Automatic deferment of payment of VAT, taxes on legal entities and corporate taxes.

NON-PROFITS WHOSE BUSINESS ACTIVITY IS SUBJECT TO VAT

Non-profits with a business activity subject to VAT can also benefit from a one-time €4,000 allowance granted by the Brussels region, provided that they are active in an eligible sector and that they meet the other conditions for the allowance:

  • Employ fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees.
    Note: the 50 FTE employee limit is per company and not per business unit;
  • Not be a public company or classified as one;
  • Have at least one place of business in the Brussels-Capital Region.
    Please note: the non-profit's business unit gives entitlement, not the head office (which may be in another region).

Visit www.primecovid.brussels and click on the blue button labelled “Verify Criteria” to determine if you are eligible for the allowance. If so, fill out the form. (More information about the conditions and process for this allowance can be found in the answer to the question “What assistance is being provided to businesses in Brussels?” ) in this FAQ-section.

In addition, the Brussels government announced a new €2,000 compensatory allowance intended to support entrepreneurs and micro-enterprises (between 0 and 5 FTEs) experiencing a significant drop in activity due to the measures taken to combat the spread of COVID-19. The conditions and practical details have not been specified yet. If you would like to be kept up-to-date automatically about new developments, please join our mailing list

Is your non-profit subsidised? In this case, we advise contacting your subsidising authority directly to find out about their approach to the coronavirus crisis.

MEASURES SPECIFIC TO CERTAIN BUSINESS SECTORS

The measures specific to certain business sectors in the Brussels region are described below:

CULTURE

Several measures were implemented by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation for the cultural sector. In particular, subsidy obligations were relaxed and cultural operators and, under certain conditions, event organisers can access an Emergency fund.

The FAQ on the Wallonia-Brussels Federation website provide further information about the impacts of the coronavirus crisis on the cultural sector and the measures implemented. A help desk can also be reached via the 02/413.31.28 number or via culture.info@cfwb.be

In addition, an emergency liquidity loan was launched by Fonds St’art to support cultural and creative companies.

CHILDCARE FACILITIES

All Wallonia-Brussels Federation subsidies are being continued. They will not take decreased attendance into account and subsidies may be dispensed in advance to prevent cash flow issues.

Emergency aid will also be provided for care facilities. The allowance amount depends on the type of care facility (subsidised or not). Allowances will be disbursed by the ONE (Office of Birth and Childhood), which will send an explanatory letter regarding the award procedure shortly.

SPORTS FEDERATIONS AND AFFILIATED SPORTS CLUBS

The Wallonia-Brussels Federation government has implemented a fund to assist sectors which fall under its remit, such as sports. The terms of use are being drafted.

The conditions for obtaining and continuing subsidies for sports events and projects are available in this document prepared by the office of Minister Glatiny on 2 April.

ASSISTANCE FOR INDIVIDUALS - HEALTHCARE - SOCIAL - TRAINING - INTEGRATION

The Brussels-Capital Region, the Common Community Commission (COCOM) and the French Community Commission (COCOF) have set up a special €29 million “COVID-19” fund specifically allocated between:

  • Domestic assistance:  €2,322 million to support the purchase of additional equipment, the reorganising of routes and the setting up of electronic communication channels;
  • Nursing homes: €3.95 million to equip premises and cover additional wages;
  • Social welfare: €4.97 million to, among other things, expand capacity for receiving migrants and increase patrols, street work and shelters for homeless people.
  • Assistance for people with disabilities (sheltered workshops, assistance services, welcome and accommodation): €2,866 million.

Their subsidies will also be continued and administrative simplification is planned for all of the following sectors: Healthcare, Social, Personal Assistance, Training, Social and Professional Integration and Social Cohesion.

The French Community Commission (COCOF) is continuing the optional subsidies for postponed events which were set to take place between 1/3 and 30/4/2020. The subsidies can be used to pay the bills which were already incurred for cancelled events. The administrative application process will be simplified.

HOW DOES THE LOCKDOWN PERIOD AFFECT THE ORGANISATION OF BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETINGS AND ANNUAL GENERAL MEETINGS?

Board of Directors meetings can be held virtually, via video conferencing, on condition that the principle of collective responsibility is met, i.e. every member’s point of view can be expressed and discussed, as is the case during a classic meeting.

Unless your articles of association prohibit it, some decisions may also be taken in writing. This type of written decision must be taken unanimously (for example, a written text explicitly approved and signed by all of the members).

As for General Meetings, the law does not provide non-profits with the option of a written procedure or other distance voting procedure. A deliberative general meeting must be held.

More information is available in this article from the Boutique de Gestion.

What tax-related measures have been taken?

Companies facing financial difficulties as a result of the spread of coronavirus can apply to FPS Finance for support measures. These support measures may provide some financial margin for manoeuvre in order to help taxpaying companies and individuals overcome their short-term financial difficulties.

!! Update: 18 March: In order to create some financial margin for manoeuvre for these companies and entrepreneurs as well as for households, the federal government has now taken additional measures to alleviate, as much as possible, the financial impact of the virus.

Deferment of the deadline for submitting ISoc, IPM and INR-soc returns with a due date of 16 March to 30 April 2020 inclusive 

The tax return deadline has been extended until midnight on Thursday 30 April, 2020. This applies to taxpayers submitting their returns for ISOC (corporation tax), IPM (tax paid by entities not subject to corporation tax) and INR-SOC (tax paid by non-residents/foreign companies). This deferment applies only to tax returns whose submission deadline is from 16 March and 30 April 2020 inclusive. 

Deferment of the deadline for submitting VAT returns

The various deadlines are indicated on FPS Finances website for:

  • Periodic returns
  • Statement of intracommunity transactions
  • Annual list of VAT-registered customers

Payment of VAT and payroll taxes.

An automatic two-month deferment of the payment deadline for VAT and payroll taxes has been granted, and no fines or late-payment interest shall be charged. 
In addition to this automatic deferment of payment, it is also possible to ask for the measures announced previously to be applied to the payment of unpaid VAT and payroll tax. Submitting this request may entitle you to additional payment deferments, exemption from late-payment interest and/or a reduced late-payment fine. Refer to the explanations below.

Payment of personal income tax and corporation tax 

An additional two-month extension shall automatically be granted, in addition to the normal delay, for the payment of personal income tax, corporation tax, tax paid by legal entities and tax paid by non-residents. This measure applies to the tax calculated for the 2019 tax year, determined as of 12 March 2020.

The payment of debts relating to personal income tax or corporation tax, including debts incurred before 12 March 2020, is also covered by the announced assistance measures and by the additional payment extensions, subject to the submission of a request, with the exception of late-payment interest and/or reduced late-payment fines. See below.

PROCEDURE

WHICH COMPANIES?

Natural persons (individual people) and legal persons (private and public companies and organisations) in Brussels who have a company registration number (BCE)

  • and, regardless of their sector of activity,
  • who are facing financial difficulties as a result of the spread of coronavirus and can demonstrate this (e.g. a drop in turnover, a significant reduction in orders and/or of bookings, “chain-reaction” effects with partner companies, etc.).
  • The support measures cannot be granted to companies that, independently of coronavirus, have structural payment problems

WHICH DEBTS?

  • Payroll taxes
  • VAT
  • Personal income tax
  • Corporation tax
  • Tax paid by entities not subject to corporation tax

WHAT IS THE DEADLINE ? 

  • The request should be submitted not later than 30 June 2020

WHICH MEASURES?

  • Payment plan
  • Exemption from late-payment interest
  • Reduced fines for non-payment

UNDER WHAT CONDITIONS?

  • Compliance with the conditions for filing returns
  • Debts must not have been incurred as a result of fraud
  • The support measures shall be withdrawn in the event of:
    • failure to comply with the agreed payment plan, unless the taxpayer contacts the relevant authority in advance
    • the initiation of collective insolvency proceedings (bankruptcy, judicial reorganisation, etc.)

ACTION TO TAKE

  • submit one request per debt, which opens access to all the measures, after receiving your notice of assessment or request for payment,
  • use this form (DOCX, 33.37 KB) and send it by e-mail or post
  • a single point of contact for all the support measures: regional collection centres (CRR). Based on the post code of your home address (for natural persons) or of your head office (for legal entities) there is a specific centre that you should use.

How to search for your centre:

Click here to open our guide to the various centres. In the “Commune” (Municipality) filter, enter your post code or the name of the municipality of your home address/head office. Click on “Chercher” (Search). This details of the CRR competent to handle your request will be displayed (including its postal and email address).

Source: FPS Finances

Temporary unemployment: for whom? until when? what formalities do I need to complete?

If, due to coronavirus, you no longer have work for your employees, then you can make them temporarily unemployed, on condition that certain formalities are completed. 

TEMPORARY UNEMPLOYMENT: SIMPLIFICATION

!! Update: 23 March: 

If you have any questions about temporary unemployment, have a look at the FAQ (pdf) produced by ONEM (the national employment office) (date of publication: 23/03/2020). 

!! Update: 20 March:

Last Friday, the cabinet approved a second phase of its social and economic safeguarding plan set up to combat the coronavirus crisis. All claims for temporary unemployment relating to Covid-19, filed by blue-collar workers or salaried employees, shall be processed as a claim due to a force majeure event. This is the “corona procedure”.

1. SIMPLIFICATION OF THE FORMALITIES FOR EMPLOYERS

  • For as long as the restrictive measures are in place (provisionally, up until and including 05/04/2020), the employer is no longer required to send notification of temporary unemployment due to force majeure to the competent ONEM unemployment office. This period is likely to be extended until 30/06/2020 if the health measures taken by the Government are extended or enhanced.
  • If, for the period commencing on 13/03/2020, the employer indicates “force majeure” as the reason for the temporary unemployment in DRS scenario 5 (=electronic declaration of social risk in which the employer specifies the number of days during which the employee shall be in temporary unemployment) (using code 5.4 for “type of day” and “coronavirus” as the reason), then this action is equivalent to completing the mandatory notification.

This procedure is valid even if the employer had previously submitted notification of temporary unemployment due to force majeure for the period commencing on 13/03/2020 or had submitted notification of temporary unemployment for economic reasons.

Any employer who had initially submitted notification of temporary unemployment for economic reason can thus switch to the temporary unemployment due to force majeure regime (reason: “coronavirus”) without having to complete any other formalities, and even if some employees can still work or if employees can work on some days only.

  • If the employer indicates “economic reasons” as the reason for the temporary unemployment in DRS scenario 5 (using code 5.1 for “type of day”), the existing procedures then continue to apply (notification of temporary unemployment for economic reasons, notification of the first day of actual unemployment, mandatory week of work, etc.).
  • The employer is required to submit a DRS scenario 5 as quickly as possible (based on which ONEM can also determine the value of the benefits to be paid to the temporarily unemployed person). The employer must not wait until the end of the month, and instead must complete the formalities during the current month, as soon as all the information is known about the situation up until the end of the month.
  • During the period from 01/03/2020 to 30/06/2020 inclusive, the employer is not required to provide a control card (C3.2A) to employees made temporarily unemployed, and irrespective of the reason for the temporary unemployment. 

For more information, refer to info sheet E1 Coronavirus – Employers

2. SIMPLIFICATION OF THE FORMALITIES FOR EMPLOYEES

  • To submit a claim for benefits to the paying-out organisation, the employee has to option to use a simplified form (form C3.2 – EMPLOYEE-CORONA
  • Any employee made temporarily unemployed due to force majeure is eligible for unemployment benefits without needing to satisfy any eligibility conditions. During the period from 01/02/2020 to 30/06/2020 inclusive, this measure shall also apply to any employee made temporarily unemployed for economic reasons.
  • From 01/02/2020 to 30/06/2020, the employee receives benefit equivalent to 70 % of his or her average salary (capped at an upper limit of €2,754.76 per month). Any employee made temporarily unemployed due to force majeure (reason: “coronavirus”) receives, in addition to unemployment benefit, a supplément of €5.63 per day, i.e. 150 euros per month, paid out by ONEM. 
    A payroll tax of 26.75 % shall be deducted from this benefit.
  • For more information, refer to info sheet T2 Coronavirus – Employees 

Note that self-employed persons and “professions libérales” (service-based, self-employed occupations that are primarily intellectual or technical in nature, such as lawyers and accountants) cannot be made temporarily unemployed due to force majeure (another type of replacement income exists for them)

If you have any questions about temporary unemployment, have a look at the FAQ (pdf) produced by ONEM (the national employment office) (date of publication: 23/03/2020). Do not hesitate contact the service supplier you use to administer your payroll since in some cases they can complete certain formalities for you.

!! Update: 19 March: 

  • Employees working in sheltered workshops, supported employment workshops and “maatwerkbedrijven” (CP 327) can also be made temporarily unemployed due to force majeure.
  • Employees in the social profit sector required to operate in accordance with the rules applicable to the private sector may also be made temporarily unemployed due to force majeure.
  • Service voucher entities which close on a voluntary basis as a consequence of the coronavirus crisis may make their employees temporarily unemployed due to force majeure. Companies which stay open may also make temporarily unemployed due to force majeure any employees who cannot work due to the cancellation of projects or work by customers, if they cannot work for a full day.

!! Update: 18 March:

In view of the surge in the number of claims for temporary unemployment relating to the coronavirus epidemic and in view of the measures taken to limit the spread of the virus, the government has decided to award everyone for whom a new temporary unemployment file to be created, an immediately-available lump-sum payment of 1,450 euros per month to ensure that they are provided for pending the creation of their file. The "lump sum" awarded to "new" temporarily unemployed people, who have not previously used this system, is not supplemental to the income provided during the period of temporary unemployment. Once the employee is integrated into the system and the claim has been processed, the balance is calculated and paid, where applicable, to the individual concerned. 

What initiatives have been taken by the Brussels municipalities?

Several Brussels municipalities have created specific pages on their websites to provide residents and shopkeepers with information about the measures put in place.

Also, they: have set up a freephone number, are appealing for donations, provide information about solidarity initiatives, have drawn up lists of restaurants offering takeaway meals, provide details about the measures available to support local shopkeepers, etc.

Listed below are the telephone numbers and websites for every Brussels municipality

Anderlecht

Website of the Anderlecht municipality

Tel.: 02/559.71.01 (from 9 am to 4 pm)
Tel.: 02/ 558 08 00, dedicated line for questions about the restrictive measures

Auderghem

Website of the Auderghem municipality

Tel.: 0800 35 179. Call this number if you have a question about the services provided by the municipality, if your children need help with their home schooling, etc. Anyone with questions that could be answered by the municipality’s public centre for social welfare (CPAS) can also use this number.

Berchem-Sainte-Agathe

Website for the Berchem-Saint-Agathe municipality

Tel.: 0800 35 160 call this freephone number to speak to the local authority in this municipality if you have any questions about the specific measures implemented within the municipality.
Tel.: 02 482 16 16: for isolated individuals needing help with social services and home care/nursing.

Etterbeek

Website of the Etterbeek municipality

Tel.: 0800 399 32 for the public centre for social welfare (CPAS) and social support services
Tel.: 02 627 27 37 (a helpline (calling a mobile phone number) for individuals over 60 years old in quarantine and/or self-isolating)

Evere

Website of the Evere municipality

Tel.: 0499 867 3567 between 9 am and 6 pm (public centre for social welfare (CPAS)): call this number for advice, to ask for meals delivered to your home or to arrange a visit to the doctor.

Forest

Website of the Forest municipality

Tel.: 02 370 22 11 (the municipality's general enquiries number)

Ganshoren

Website of the Ganshoren municipality

Tel.: 02/464.05.36 (9 am to 4 pm)
Tel.: 02/563.46.15 (9 am to 4 pm)

Ixelles

Website of the Ixelles municipality

Tel.: refer to the website for contact details for the various services

Jette

Website of the Jette municipality

Tel.: refer to the website for contact details for the various services

Koekelberg

Website of the Koekelberg municipality

Tel.: 02 600 15 20 for questions about schools, creches and closures. Isolated or vulnerable individuals can also call this number.

Molenbeek

Website of the Molenbeek municipality

Tel.: 02 412 36 81, call this hotline to speak to someone who can listen to your concerns, answer any questions you may have about this disease and help you access services tailored to your needs.
Tel.: 02 600 74 44, telephone numberfor the municipality’s solidarity service: “Solidarité 1080 Solidariteit” providing assistance to the most vulnerable

Saint-Gilles

Website of the Saint-Gilles municipality

Tel.: 0800 35 176: freephone helpline for isolated individuals who need help with their shopping. From 9 am to 5 pm

Saint-Josse-ten-Noode

Website of the Saint-Josse-ten-Noode municipality

Tel.: 0800/35.446 (freephone number from 9 am to 1 pm)

Schaerbeek

Website of the Schaerbeek municipality

Tel.: 02 244 75 11 (Schaerbeek social services, 9 am to 12 noon and 1 pm to 4 pm) 

Uccle

Website of the Uccle municipality

Tel.: 02/348.65.51 or 02/348.66.69 or economie-coronavirus@uccle.brussels: a municipality employee is available to provide shopkeepers and companies with information about federal and regional aid and about specific assistance measures.

Brussels-City

Website of the Brussels-City municipality

Tel.: 02/279.22.11 (the municipality's general enquiries number)
Tel.: 0800 20 035 (freephone number for shopkeepers)

Watermael-Boitsfort

Website of the Watermael-Boitsfort municipality

Tel.: 0800/352.42 (assistance for individuals)

Woluwe-Saint-Lambert

Website of the Woluwe-Saint-Lambert municipality

Tel.: 02 761.27.07 - dedicated helpline for older or vulnerable people who have to stay at home

Woluwe-Saint-Pierre

Website of the Woluwe Saunt-Pierre municipality

Tel.:0800 35 190 (freephone number Covid-19): if you have any questions about the measures. From Monday to Friday from 9 am to 4 pm.

Updated on 26 March - 1 pm

Is any assistance being provided by the banks?

The Finance Minister, Alexander De Croo, the National Bank of Belgium and Febelfin have announced their intention to provide financial support for companies facing problems resulting from the coronavirus crisis. Companies may apply to defer their loan repayments for up to a maximum of six months.

The Finance Minister, NBB and Febelfin have drawn up a charter entitled "Deferral of loan repayments for companies" which formally defines their commitment.

This charter outlines the following points:

  • what exactly is covered by the deferral of repayment;
  • who can apply for a deferral of repayment;
  • what types of loans or debt are eligible for the deferral of repayments scheme;
  • when can an application be made for a deferral of repayment and for how long does it run.

DEFERRAL OF LOAN REPAYMENTS FOR COMPANIES: FOUR PRINCIPLES

Entities affected financially by the coronavirus crisis may ask their bank for a deferral of loan repayments. All the details about this deferral of loan repayments are provided below:

1) WHAT DOES THIS SCHEME OFFER?

Under the terms of the deferral of loan repayments scheme, set up as a response to the coronavirus crisis, a company/organisation does not have to repay its loans (capital repayment) for up a maximum of 6 months. The interest on the loans is, however, still due. Once the deferral period has elapsed, the payments shall resume. The term of the loan will be extended for a period equal to that of the deferral. In other words, the borrower shall finish paying off its loan not more than 6 months later than initially planned.

Banks shall not charge any application fees or administration costs to any entity which uses this scheme to defer its repayments.

For all new loans and new credit lines with a maximum duration of 12 months, a guarantee system has been set up jointly with federal government.

2) WHO IS IT FOR?

A deferral of loan repayments for companies may be requested by non-financial companies, SME, the self-employed and non-profit organisations which satisfy each of the following four conditions:

1) The coronavirus crisis has caused payment difficulties due to: 

  • a reduction in sales revenue (turnover) or activity
  • the entity having to introduce temporary or full unemployment
  • authorities obliging the company/organisation to close as a consequence of the measures taken to contain the spread of the virus

2) The company/organisation is permanently based in Belgium.

3) As of 1 February 2020, the company/organisation was not overdue with the repayment of its current loans, or with its payments for taxes or social security contributions. Or the company/organisation acknowledged, as of 29 February, that it was less than 30 days overdue with the repayment of its current loans or its payment of taxes or social security contributions.

4) The company/organisation satisfied all its contractual loan obligations with all banks during the 12 months leading up to 31 January 2020, and is not in the process of restructuring its active debts.

Public authorities cannot apply for a deferral of repayment.

3) WHAT LOANS CAN BE COVERED?

An application for deferral of loan repayments may be made for one of the following loans taken out by companies:

  • loans set up with a fixed repayment plan
  • overdrafts
  • fixed advances

Leasing and factoring cannot be included in the agreement reached. A company/organisation may, of course, still contact its leasing or factoring company to see if a bilateral solution can be reached.

4) WHEN CAN APPLICATIONS BE MADE?

For applications submitted up until 30 April 2020 inclusive, a 6-month deferral of repayments, as a maximum, may be obtained, running up until 31 October 2020 at the latest.

  • For applications submitted after 30 April 2020, the end date is still set at 31 October 2020.
  • Deferral of repayments can only be obtained for future monthly due dates.
  • Applications submitted prior to the publication of this charter shall be evaluated based on the criteria set forth in this charter. If necessary, the bank will make contact with the borrower

PRACTICAL DETAILS

Any entity which believes that it satisfies the conditions necessary to apply for a deferral of loan repayments must contact its bank.

This contact can only be made during a meeting or via the digital means available to the bank (e-mail, chat, mobile app, etc.) or via telephone. Ideally, you should make contact with the bank one week prior to the due date for the following month.

The bank will ask for documentary evidence in order to be able to proceed with the application.

Source: Febelfin - 1 April 2020

What does insurances cover during a pandemic?

Continuity of the group insurance cover taken out by employers for the benefit of their employees

As a result of the Covid-19 crisis, I have been temporarily laid off (furloughed). What impacts will the suspension of my contract of employment have on the pension, death, disability, sickness or hospitalisation risks covered by my group insurance?
In those cases where, under normal circumstances, this cover would be suspended owing to the suspension of your contract of employment, the insurance sector has exceptionally, and in view of the current crisis, agreed to allow you to continue to be covered. In this regard, every insurer concerned shall contact your employer to go through the details of this extension to the cover offered by its group insurance. The employer has a cooling-off period of one month within which he or she can decide to refuse the offer.

I am an employee. What formalities do I have to complete?
None! All the risks (pension, death, disability, sickness and hospitalisation) covered in the group contract that your employer has taken out will continue to be covered unless your employer thinks that he or she should make a different decision. Your insurer will contact you to explain all the details and consequences. You then have a cooling-off period of one month within which you can decide to refuse the offer.

Under the terms of my group insurance, I can sometimes also benefit from cover additional to the types mentioned above, such as home-care assistance.
In this case, please contact your employer so that he or she can discuss with the insurer how to provide a solution which takes into consideration your financial difficulties.

I am an employer, how much will this all cost?
With regard to paying the premiums for this extension to the cover, the insurer may grant you, if specifically requested, a 6-month deferral up until 30 September 2020 at the latest. Moreover, the insurance sector has requested that the government ensures that maintaining this cover under these exceptional circumstances should not be considered by the tax authorities as a benefit in kind received by the employees concerned.

Protection for companies affected by the crisis

Can I, as a company, defer the payment of insurance premiums?
For those types of insurance which are not automatically modified to adapt to a reduction in activity, notably fire insurance, and on condition that your company has ceased trading as a result of the self-isolation measures, you can request a 6-month deferral of payment up to but not beyond 31 October 2020.

If a company, despite the circumstances, continues to trade, can it nonetheless obtain a deferral of payment of its insurance premiums?
Irrespective of the type of insurance, if your company is having difficulties paying its premiums, contact your insurer or broker to work out a suitable solution.

Suspension of contracts: take care!
With regard to any plans to suspend a contract, companies are advised to contact their insurer or broker to analyse and discuss the best solution with them. All steps taken to suspend a contract must be tailored to the individual case since they may be hazardous for the insured companies. In the interest of the company and its continuity, it is important, independently of the ceasing of trading, to ensure that the companies concerned continue to be protected. There may be residual risks which need to be considered jointly with the broker or insurer. Claims against legal aid, fire, accident (not including accidents at work), property insurance etc. may still be need to be made.

As a company, I have to make an overdue payment to an insurance company. 
For current credits or loans to companies, the insurance sector shall apply the same conditions as those stated for the moratorium introduced by the banks for the repayment of capital and the payment of interests falling due up until 31 October 2020.
On condition that you can provide evidence that your company is facing financial difficulties relating to the Covid-19 crisis and that you satisfy the following three conditions, you can request a deferral of up to 6 months, which shall terminate in all cases on 31 October 2020. This moratorium relates both to capital repayments and the payment of interest.

Conditions for deferral of credit/loan repayments:

  • your company is located in Belgium;
  • the repayment of your credit/loan was not overdue on 1 February 2020;
  • you satisfied all your contractual obligations relating to this credit/loan during the 12 months leading up to 31 January 2020 and you are not in the process of restructuring this credit/loan.

We invite you to regularly check www.assuralia.be for new information.

If you do not find the answer you are looking for, please contact your insurance company's contact person or your insurance intermediary (broker or agent).

Source: Assuralia  - Updated 4th May

3. Employer - Employee Relations

What must i do if one of my employees develops symptoms of covid-19? What if I, as a self-employed person, become unwell?

YOUR EMPLOYEE IS UNWELL

As an employer, you cannot test your employees. We recommend that you ask any employees who develop symptoms to speak to their doctor on the phone if they have the following symptoms:

  • High temperature,
  • Coughing,
  • Shortness of breath,
  • Precursor symptoms: shivers, muscle pain, sore throat, headache, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and runny nose.

The doctor will decide what action needs to be taken. If the employee has indeed contracted coronavirus, which stops him or her from satisfying the contract of employment, the normal rules in relation to inability to work with guaranteed salary apply, on condition that the doctor certifies the inability to work by providing a doctor’s note.

I AM SELF-EMPLOYED AND HAVE BECOME UNWELL. WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

If you come down with coronavirus and are unable to work for at least eight consecutive days, you are entitled to receive sickness benefits from your mutual fund provider, starting from the first day of sickness. 
You must ask your general practitioner to complete the applicable inability to work certificate immediately, since otherwise you will not be eligible for benefits. Your GP may download this certificate from your mutual fund provider’s website.

Source: Agoria

What should i do to keep my workforce safe and healthy?

The World Health Organisation has highlighted a number of preventive measures which you are strongly advised to implement in the workplace to combat optimally the spread of coronavirus.

They notably include the following measures:

  • make sure that workplaces are clean and hygienic (e.g. the surfaces of desks and keyboards) by disinfecting them regularly;
  • make sure that employees wash their hands regularly and thoroughly, and provide sanitising hand-rub dispensers in prominent places;
  • ensure good respiratory hygiene in workplaces by making sure that employees use paper tissues when coughing or sneezing;
  • notify your employees that it is preferable that they stay at home if they develop symptoms of the disease such as a high temperature and/or a cough;
  • make provision for homeworking;
  • draw up instructions in advance for a situation whereby someone needs to self-isolate since they have signs of coronavirus infection, refer also to: What should the employer do when employees develop symptoms of coronavirus or flu?

A detailed list of the various preventive measures you should take in the workplace is provided in this advice from the WHO.

Useful documents:

Source: SPF Santé

How is the salary paid to employees affected if they are unwell ?

If employees are hospitalised or must stay at home because they are ill, the rules are the same as for any other sick leave. As their employer, you have to pay them their guaranteed salary for 1 month. If an employee’s is still unable to work after one month of sickness, he or she will receive sickness benefits.

Source: SD Worx

If my employee does not come to work due to force majeure can I dismiss him or her?

No, this would constitute a case of unfair dismissal. In this case, the employee could challenge this dismissal in court. The situation would be different if the absence from work was a decision taken unilaterally by the employee who cannot provide good reason (voluntary absenteeism). The employer would then be entitled to take action.

If, however, the current situation continues or worsens - i.e. if your company is unable to continue trading normally for a long period of time and the number of orders placed is reducing - you could, as a company, lay off the employees concerned for economic reasons. 

Source: SD Worx

My employee refuses to leave home and has decided to take annual leave. Is this permissible?

Annual leave must be mutually agreed between the employer and the employee. This means that employees cannot unilaterally decide when they are going to take their annual leave.

Consequently, if the employee is absent from work unexpectedly to take leave without your authorisation and if your company’s organisational arrangements do not permit it, you can refuse to pay your employee for these days of absence.

Source: Acerta

Because of coronavirus, i no longer have enough work for my employee. What can I do?

TEMPORARY UNEMPLOYMENT: SIMPLIFICATION

!! Update: 23 March: 

If you have any questions about temporary unemployment, have a look at the FAQ (pdf) produced by ONEM (the national employment office) (date of publication: 23/03/2020). 

!! Update: 20 March:

Last Friday, the cabinet approved a second phase of its social and economic safeguarding plan set up to combat the coronavirus crisis. All claims for temporary unemployment relating to Covid-19, filed by blue-collar workers or salaried employees, shall be processed as a claim due to a force majeure event. This is the “corona procedure”.

1. SIMPLIFICATION OF THE FORMALITIES FOR EMPLOYERS

  • For as long as the restrictive measures are in place (provisionally, up until and including 05/04/2020), the employer is no longer required to send notification of temporary unemployment due to force majeure to the competent ONEM unemployment office. This period is likely to be extended until 30/06/2020 if the health measures taken by the Government are extended or enhanced.
  • If, for the period commencing on 13/03/2020, the employer indicates “force majeure” as the reason for the temporary unemployment in DRS scenario 5 (=electronic declaration of social risk in which the employer specifies the number of days during which the employee shall be in temporary unemployment) (using the code “nature of the day” 5.4 and “coronavirus” as the reason), then this action is equivalent to completing the mandatory notification.

This procedure is valid even if the employer had previously submitted notification of temporary unemployment due to force majeure for the period commencing on 13/03/2020 or had submitted notification of temporary unemployment for economic reasons.

Any employer who had initially submitted notification of temporary unemployment for economic reason can thus switch to the temporary unemployment due to force majeure regime (reason: “coronavirus”) without having to complete any other formalities, and even if some employees can still work or if employees can work on some days only.

  • If the employer indicates “economic reasons” as the reason for the temporary unemployment in DRS scenario 5 (using the code “nature of the day” 5.1), the existing procedures then continue to apply (notification of temporary unemployment for economic reasons, notification of the first day of actual unemployment, mandatory week of work, etc.).
  • The employer is required to submit a DRS scenario 5 as quickly as possible (based on which ONEM can also determine the value of the benefits to be paid to the temporarily unemployed person). The employer must not wait until the end of the month, and instead must complete the formalities during the current month, as soon as all the information is known about the situation up until the end of the month.
  • During the period from 01/03/2020 to 30/06/2020 inclusive, the employer is not required to provide a control card (C3.2A) to employees made temporarily unemployed, and irrespective of the reason for the temporary unemployment. 
  • For more information, refer to info sheet E1 Coronavirus – Employers

2. SIMPLIFICATION OF THE FORMALITIES FOR EMPLOYEES

  • To file a claim for benefits to the paying-out organisation, the employee has to option to use a simplified form (form C3.2 – EMPLOYEE-CORONA
  • Any employee made temporarily unemployed due to force majeure is eligible for unemployment benefits without needing to satisfy any eligibility conditions. During the period from 01/02/2020 to 30/06/2020 inclusive, this measure shall also apply to any employee made temporarily unemployed for economic reasons.
  • From 01/02/2020 to 30/06/2020, the employee receives benefit equivalent to 70 % of his or her average salary (capped at an upper limit of €2,754.76 per month). Any employee made temporarily unemployed due to force majeure (reason: “coronavirus”) receives, in addition to unemployment benefit, a supplement of €5.63 per day, i.e. 150 euros per month, paid out by ONEM. A payroll tax of 26.75 % shall be deducted from this benefit. 
  • For more information, refer to info sheet T2 Coronavirus – Employees

Note that self-employed persons and “professions libérales” (service-based, self-employed occupations that are primarily intellectual or technical in nature, such as lawyers and accountants) cannot be made temporarily unemployed due to force majeure (another type of replacement income exists for them).

More information is available on the ONEM website. Do not hesitate to contact the service supplier you use to administer your payroll since in some cases they can complete certain formalities for you. 

!! Update: 19 March: 

  • Employees working in sheltered workshops, supported employment workshops and “maatwerkbedrijven” (CP 327) can also be made temporarily unemployed due to force majeure.
  • Employees in the social profit sector required to operate in accordance with the rules applicable to the private sector may also be made temporarily unemployed due to force majeure.
  • Service voucher entities which close on a voluntary basis as a consequence of the coronavirus crisis may make their employees temporarily unemployed due to force majeure. Companies which stay open may also make temporarily unemployed due to force majeure any employees who cannot work due to the cancellation of projects or work by customers, if they cannot work for a full day.

!! Update: 18 March:

In view of the surge in the number of claims for temporary unemployment relating to the coronavirus epidemic and in view of the measures taken to limit the spread of the virus, the government has decided to award everyone for whom a new temporary unemployment file to be created, an immediately-available lump-sum payment of 1,450 euros per month to ensure that they are provided for pending the creation of their file. The "lump sum" awarded to "new" temporarily unemployed people, who have not who have not previously used this system, is not supplemental to the income provided during the period of temporary unemployment. Once the employee is integrated into the system and the claim has been processed, the balance is calculated and paid, where applicable, to the individual concerned. 

WORKING-TIME FLEXIBILITY

VARIABLE WORKING HOURS

You can implement flexible working-hour arrangements. This arrangement lets you employ your workforce either for longer hours when there is more work or for shorter hours when there is less work. To implement this arrangement, the option of shorter and/or longer working hours must be included in the company regulations for your business and the various working hours must also be specified in these regulations. If you want to make a change to the working day, e.g. to switch to shorter hours since there is less work due to coronavirus, you must notify your employees of this not less than 7 days in advance.

Under the terms of this scheme, you can include the option in your company regulations to deviate from the standard working hours, up to a maximum of 2 hours more than or less than the standard working day, such that the maximum working day lasts 9 hours. The working week cannot deviate by more than 5 hours more than or less than the standard working week, up to a maximum of 45 hours. Let us assume that your employees normally work 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. In this case, you could employ them for one hour less per day, such that they work 7 hours a day and 35 hours a week.

However, ultimately, over the course of the full year, the total hours worked by the employees must be the same as if they had worked standard hours right through the year. If you oblige your employees to work fewer hours now, these lost hours must be made up by working longer hours at a future date.

In addition to variable working hours, there are other options to employ employees flexibly. The terms of these options are set differently for each sector. Consult the service supplier you use to administer your payroll for further details about these options.

PART-TIME EMPLOYEES

For part-time employees, who work variable hours, you must notify them 5 working days in advance of the hours they have to work. For these employees, you can simply decide yourself when they will work more or fewer hours. You must not, however, forget that the weekly hours worked must be respected for a reference period of not more than one quarter of the year (which may be extended to not more than one year if set in a collective bargaining agreement or company regulation).

RECUPERATION TIME

If your employees have worked additional hours, e.g. in the context of an unusual increase in workload, you should normally grant them recuperation time. If there is less work or if you would prefer for your employees to stay at home, you can ask them to accumulate recuperation time in advance. From a legal perspective, you do not have to have an agreement in place between the employee and the employer regarding when the recuperation time is taken. Clearly, it is advisable to determine when this recuperation time is taken by mutual agreement. Don’t forget to consult your company regulations. There may be rules in these regulations as to when the recuperation time may be taken.

Source: ONEM and Acerta

I am suspending my business activity completely. What should i do with my employees?

If your activity is affected to such a degree that you decide to suspend all activity for a period of time, what’s the situation for your employees?

In all cases, you cannot oblige your employees to take annual leave during this period of closure.

You may, however, consider a collective closure. You cannot decide unilaterally to put in place a collective closure.

The decision regarding when and for how long a collective closure is in place is discussed and taken during an employee meeting within your company. This employee meeting is attended by union representatives or with a majority of employees, depending on the setup within your company. There is no fixed date before which you must agree the dates of the closure; in principle, this is possible right through the year.

Once a decision has been taken, you must notify the employees of this by displaying a message in a location used frequently by employees (e.g. in a canteen). The closure dates must then also be included in the company regulation.

Source: Acerta

One of your employee’s family members is hospitalised with coronavirus and the employee has to self-isolate. What happens now?

In this case, everything depends on the employee’s preference. He or she may, for example, ask to take leave. However, the employee may also ask, insofar as he or she is entitled to, to take back overtime hours or to accumulate or take back hours under working time reduction arrangements. The important element in this case is that you should always accept the request, otherwise the employee is legally absent without reason (with all the consequences which that would entail).

However, in this situation an employee often makes a request to take leave for compelling reasons. Every employee is entitled to 10 days of unpaid leave per year (in some companies or sectors, a higher number of such days may be authorised, or part payment for these days may or may not be agreed. In this case, you do not have the right to refuse the absence. If the maximum number of days of leave had been set for compelling reasons, you can always authorise the employee to continue to be absent without pay. It is advisable to draw up and sign an agreement to cover this arrangement.

Source: Unizo

In the context of an investigation led by FPS sante carried out to identify individuals who have been in contact with one of my employees, who is a carrier of the virus, can i pass on details about the employees who have been in contact with him or her?

Yes, the data requested is not classified as “sensitive information” by GDPR. Moreover, the following lawful bases permit the processing of employee data:

  • Vital interest
  • Performance of a contract
  • Legitimate interest

Source: 1890

Corona crisis and homeworking: Do I have to pay an allowance to my employees?

Many employers are asking what allowance they should pay to their employees who, as a result of the measures taken by the government to combat Covid-19, are temporarily working entirely from home.

The aforementioned office allowance of 126.94 EUR per month which covers heating, electricity, office consumables, etc. may be granted without incurring social security contributions to all employees who work from home, and even to employees who were not working from home before the Covid-19 measures were introduced and with whom the employer had not formally agreed a homeworking agreement.

For further explanations about this office allowance, refer to the administrative instructions provided by ONSS.

In addition to this allowance, the employer may reimburse the following expenses:

  • Use of the employee's own PC – a maximum fixed sum of 20 EUR per month is accepted
  • Use of the employee's own broadband connection – a maximum fixed sum of 20 EUR per month is accepted

If the homeworker has to incur other expenditure (use of a landline/mobile phone, purchase of a monitor or scanner, etc.), the employer may also reimburse these expenses. For these items there is not fixed sum; the reimbursement must be made based on the actual costs.

Employers who, prior to the introduction of the measures to combat Covid-19, reimbursed their homeworkers’ expenses on the basis of 10 % of the gross remuneration for homeworking services as set out in the homeworking agreement (refer to the administrative instructions – same link as above), may continue to pay this allowance in the same way on a prorated basis for which provision is made in the homeworking agreement (e.g.10 % of 2/5th of the monthly remuneration if the agreement specifies two days of homeworking).

An allowance of 10 % of the total gross remuneration cannot therefore be accepted for employees who are temporarily working entirely from home as a result of the measures taken to combat Covid-19 and whose homeworking arrangement is not as set forth in Title VI of the law of 3 July 1978 relative to employment contracts, and neither are they “homeworking” in the true sense of the term.

An allowance of 126.94 EUR may, in all circumstances, be paid instead of the prorated 10 % of the monthly remuneration, in the event that the latter is a lower amount.

EXCEPTIONALLY

Due to coronavirus, it is exceptionally possible to ask for the amount set by ONSS to also be applied for tax purposes for everyone who has to work from home as a result of the measures taken.

If the employer wishes to pay temporarily this homeworking allowance of 126.94 euros to all his or her homeworkers and it is considered as a reimbursement of the employer’s own expenditure, the employer must submit a request for an anticipatory ruling to FPS Finances.

template has been made available by FPS Finances. It must be completed and emailed to dvbsda@minfin.fed.be (no email correspondence is currently being accepted).

Sources: https://www.rsz.fgov.be/ & Securex - Update: 26 March

4. Operation of the company

What should I do if I have to temporarily cease trading due to a supply problem ?

Factories in China have closed in an attempt to contain the epidemic and we have felt the consequences of this in Belgium. Some companies currently have no work for their employees because, in the short term at least, deliveries are no longer guaranteed to arrive.

The Federal Minister of Employment has confirmed that the situation is considered as a case of force majeure. You are not required to pay the wages of employees affected in this way: they are entitled to temporary unemployment benefit. The employer must, however, demonstrate that the cause of the temporary cessation of business is a force majeure due to coronavirus.

Source: Agoria

I have very specific questions about the sector of activity in which my company operates (food, logistics, etc.). who can i contact?

Many sector-specific employer organisations, such as AgoriaFeviaFebelfin, etc.) provide specific information about their sector and can answer questions about market conditions (procurement issues, stock levels, substitutes, etc.). Employers may find it useful to have a look at their websites.

Beci, the Brussels chamber of commerce, provides also useful information on its site.

Source: 1819

Can I cancel contracts with suppliers at no cost to myself if they are unable to deliver on time ?

Sometimes, but not always. It is advisable to check the details of the agreements you have in place with your supplier, e.g. as set forth in contracts or general terms and conditions. The key decision to make is whether it is best to terminate the contract definitively or simply suspend it temporarily.

For a termination the following rules apply. In principle, late delivery constitutes a breach of contract; this breach may not be sufficient to justify terminating the contract, but rather as a gross failure. There are three points to consider. Firstly, the contract may stipulate that delivering later than agreed (up to a specified limit) is not considered as a gross failure or does not constitute sufficient reason for termination. Secondly, the contract may consider certain conditions to be a case of force majeure. In accordance with the law, you can only invoke a force majeure if you can prove the following: i) unforeseeable circumstances; ii) which occur outside of the control the party and iii) which make it impossible to fulfil the obligation (more difficult, more expensive, etc. is not sufficient). The contract may give a broader definition of these circumstances and designate other situations as cases of force majeure, even if they do not strictly satisfy these three aforementioned conditions. Thirdly, there are often procedures for dealing with failures to perform (e.g. prior putting in default and a grace period). Termination is only justified if these procedures have been followed. If you do not follow these steps, the termination is at your risks and may incur your liability.

suspension is more straightforward. If the supplier is temporarily unable to deliver to you, you are temporarily not required to comply with your contractual obligations. We recommend, however, that you inform the opposing party as soon as possible in writing (to establish evidence), in order to avoid the need for subsequent discussion. You can mention explicitly that you consider that the contract is suspended and you can indicate which obligations you will no longer be fulfilling until further notice (e.g. payment or exclusive delivery).

In both cases, there is also an obligation to limit the head of damages suffered by the parties concerned. Even if the other party is liable and must compensate you for the damage you suffer, you must make reasonable efforts to limit this damage wherever possible

Source: Agoria

Can I put in default suppliers or carriers?

You can put suppliers or carriers in default if they fail to deliver at the time specified. Once again, we recommend that you check the agreements that you have in place with your supplier. The contract may actually clarify the situation, since certain contractual failures may be allowed, e.g. limits on how late a delivery can be, or by designating the current situation as a case of force majeure.

Moreover, this putting into default may also be settled contractually. For example, there may be provision in the contract for grace periods (whereby the supplier is not put into default unless it has failed to deliver after an extended period of time) or procedural means (by registered letter, e-mail, language, recipient, etc.). In order to avoid the need for subsequent discussion, you can also state, when putting the opposing party in default, the steps you are considering taking if the supplier or transporter continues to fail to fulfil its obligations. The contact may also specify rules with regard to this.

Source: Agoria

The price of my raw materials has gone up because of coronavirus. Can I adjust my prices?

In principle, it is up to you, as an entrepreneur, to set the prices that you ask your customers to pay. If the price of your raw materials increases, you can therefore, in theory, decide to increase the prices you charge (although there are clearly commercial considerations to consider).

Note that you will need to set up a new contract to allow you to adjust the prices you charge. With regard to fulfilling current contracts and orders, you are not permitted to increase your prices unless you meet certain terms and conditions. You can only adjust your prices if you made provision for the possibility of a revision of your prices in the contract’s terms and conditions, and if you clearly indicated how the prices could be increased based on an increase in the cost of raw materials. And even if these provisions are in place, you must examine any variation you might introduce into the increase in prices and, once again, find a commercial compromise between the repercussions of a price increase and your relationship with the customer.

Source: UNIZO

i’ve had an order cancelled. Can I keep the advance payments already paid?

The answer to this question depends on whether or not a “force majeure” can be invoked and on the situation. 

YOU OR YOUR CUSTOMER CANCEL AS A PRECAUTIONARY MEASURE

If you or your customer cancel as a precautionary measure (and not out of necessity), the party which cancels shall bear the costs.

Consider an example. Imagine that you are organising a festival and: 

  • You decide that it is preferable to cancel the festival, even though the government has not obliged you to do so. In this case, you have to bear the costs. You must, therefore, return to your customers the money they paid for the tickets. However, you would not need to return this money if you had included a specific provision for a case of force majeure in the terms and conditions of sale, since in some cases, the general terms and conditions of sale stipulate that in cases of force majeure, payment already made by customers shall not be reimbursed.
  • You decide to let the festival take place, however, some customers cancel because they do not consider it to be safe. In this case, these customers will have to bear the cost. They cannot ask for the cost of their tickets to be repaid (unless you had made provision for this in the terms and conditions of sale).

YOU (OR YOUR CUSTOMER) CANCEL(s) BECAUSE YOU (THEY) ARE OBLIGED TO DO SO

If the government obliges you to cancel an order, the situation is slightly different. If you are obliged to cancel, this constitutes a case of force majeure. Imagine once again the festival scenario.

  • Customers who have not yet paid: you can no longer fulfil your obligations. You cannot, therefore, demand that your customers pay.
  • Customers who have already paid (an advance payment or the full amount): they cannot demand a reimbursement.

Of course, once again, you must always check that you have not included some other provisions in your terms and conditions of sale.

Source: UNIZO

5. Health Advice

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large group of viruses which induce symptoms ranging from a simple cold to more serious disease such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus which until recently had not been identified in humans.

The common signs of infection are high temperature, coughing, shortness of breath and dyspnoea (difficult or laboured breathing). In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Older adults and those with existing long-term conditions appear to be more vulnerable to the severe symptoms.

The standard recommendations for preventing the spread of the virus include: regular hand-washing, covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing and thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. You must avoid close contact with anyone who has symptoms of respiratory disease, such as coughing or sneezing.

As an employer, you cannot stop an employee coming to work simply because you think they may have COVID-19. You can ask the unwell employee to go and see a doctor for the safety of his or her colleagues; however, the employee is not obliged to follow this advice.

Source: Coronavirus information

What should i do if i suspect that one of my employees has caught covid-19?

  • If one of your employees becomes unwell at the workplace and COVID-19 is the suspected cause, you must move him or her to another more isolated location to reduce or avoid contact with other employees.
  • Offer the unwell employee a face mask since this can help to prevent the spread of viral particles ejected by coughing or sneezing.
  • Notify the local health authorities.
  • Anyone who has been in contact with an unwell employee must stay at home and self-isolate if they develop a mild cough or high temperature (>37.3°C).

With regard to the place of work used by the employee suspected of having COVID-19:

  • It may be shut-down temporarily or designated as “out of service” (for a minimum of one week).
  • Perimeter: three metres around the desk/workstation of the unwell employee.
  • Any points of possible contact and washrooms/toilets used should be cleaned thoroughly and, if possible, disinfected or designated as “out of service”.
  • Alcohol (ethanol 60-90 %) or chlorine can be used as a disinfectant.

Source: BECI

What hygiene and safety measures should I introduce on my premises?

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE WORKPLACE

  • Ensure that the premises are well ventilated. Open windows and doors. Although we do not know the survival time of coronavirus on surfaces, this measure can reduce its airborne spread inside the premises.
  • Regularly clean objects touched frequently by several people.
  • Clean shared work equipment after use (keyboards, mice, telephones, tables and the armrests of office chairs) or limit the sharing of equipment in the workplace.

Clean smooth surfaces which are touched regularly:

  • Door handles
  • Handrails on stairs
  • Offices, tables, keyboard, telephones, etc. which are in regular use
  • Toilets
  • etc.

Products used:

  • The cleaning products commonly used for these purposes are sufficient. Disposable, single-use, cleaning wipes may be provided for the cleaning of keyboards and telephones.
  • Wash up crockery and cutlery carefully with water and detergent after every time they are used
  • Avoid using shared tea towels

Provide clear instructions to cleaning personnel and provide protection for them

  • Ensure that a clear cleaning plan is in place
  • Ensure that you have a sufficient quantity of cleaning products and cloths.
  • Wash the cleaning cloths used frequently at the highest possible washing temperature.
  • Brief cleaning personnel about how the virus spreads and how to prevent infection.

Source: BECI

How can I avoid passing on the virus to close family or friends? How can I avoid catching the disease if one of my close family or friends has coronavirus?

The info-coronavirus.be website offers advice for people who are self-isolating and those close to them. This advice is presented in their brochure.

6. Useful telephone numbers and websites providing information

Where can I find more information ?

FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC

  • For general information about coronavirus, have a look at the official website for Belgium: https://www.info-coronavirus.be/fr/.
  • www.coronavirus.brussels:  provides the latest information about the coronavirus epidemic and the telephone number for the dedicated call centre. You can also download from the website posters in 10 different languages (French, Dutch, German, English, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Turkish, Classical Arabic).  
  • Telephone number for FPS Public Health: 0800 14689.

EMPLOYMENT

INFORMATION ABOUT ECONOMICAL ISSUES:

  • Telephone numbers:
    • FPS Economy: 0800/120.33
    • The 1819 information service: call answered every day from 9 am to 5 pm: dial 1819
    • Telephone number for INASTI (national institute for the social security of the self-employed - NISSE). Calls answered from Monday to Friday, 8 am to 8 pm: 0800 12 018
    • BECI (chamber of commerce): 02 533 40 90
    • For the ASBL: Ideji ASBL hotline available on Mondays and Thursdays, from 2 pm to 4 pm and Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 am to 12 noon.
  • Many sector-specific employer organisations can provide more detailed information about their sector (e.g. AgoriaFeviaFebelfinHoreca Brussels, ...). Employers may find it useful to look through their websites. 
  • Beci, the Brussels chamber of commerce, also provides information on its website. As do Unizo, UCM and SDI.
  • The FPS Economy website.
  • Brussels-based exporting companies can send any questions they may have to Laurent Lamberts (llamberts@hub.brussels) at hub.brussels.

HEALTH:

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