Temporary unemployment due to COVID-19: impact on supplementary benefits of your employees

Are you, as an employer, obliged to take advantage of the relaxed measures on temporary unemployment on account of COVID-19? If so, we will be happy to explain what the impact was/is on the supplementary benefits of your employees, and in particular what solution the government is working on.

Temporary unemployment due to COVID-19: impact on supplementary benefits of your employees

Background

On 7 May 2020, the legislator retroactively enacted a law introducing exceptional measures to support workers placed on temporary unemployment in large numbers for reasons of force majeure or for economic reasons under COVID-19.

During this particular period of suspension, workers could continue to benefit from their pension commitment with the corresponding supplementary guarantees. In addition, they could still fall back on all other occupational risk covers (such as hospitalisation, guaranteed income and outpatient expenses), regardless of the rules that were included in the pension regulations, the pension contract or the insurance contract.

Coverage was continued and, thanks to a tolerance allowed by the tax authorities, the premiums due could also continue to be paid, unless the employer chose not to maintain the pension accrual and the risk covers (with the exception of the death benefit cover up to 30/06/2020). For more information on this topic, see this article on the impact of COVID-19 on temporary unemployment and supplementary benefits and this article on the information obligation for employers and employees in relation to temporary unemployment.

This measure expired on 30 September 2020.

Situation today

In other words, this fixed-term regulation ensures that, without an additional legislative initiative, we fall back on the normal arrangement in the event of temporary unemployment. In practical terms, this means that – unless otherwise stated in the pension rules or the pension contract – the supplementary benefits are suspended during the period in which your employees are on temporary unemployment.

If you as an employer do not want these covers to be suspended, you should, in principle, take action and make changes to your rules. However, a potential solution is in the making

Solution

At the Council of Ministers at the beginning of November, the De Croo government decided to reintroduce the simplified temporary unemployment procedure for all employers and employees (blue and white-collar workers) for the period from 01/10/2020 to 31/03/2021. At the same time, the Minister for Pensions took the initiative to propose an extension of the measures provided for in the law of 7 May 2020 until the end of March 2021.

A preliminary draft bill is currently awaiting the opinion of the Council of State before it passes the House of Representatives. At that time, we will find out whether the extension of the supplementary pension and other risk cover measures will be introduced retroactively from 1 October 2020 and what the other conditions will be.

Will it be a carbon copy of the law we already know, or will adjustments be made? We will follow it up for you.

Valérie Rogge

We are there for you.

If you have any further questions about your collective plans, please contact your account manager or contact us at ebservices@vanbreda.be.

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