- COVID-19 measures , Self Assessment Testing Tool , Collective Bargaining Agreement no. 160 , test for COVID-19 , telework , Compulsory telework , telework filing
Recently, a number of measures were taken to combat the spread of the coronavirus in the workplace.
A "Self Assessment Testing Tool" was developed to relieve the pressure on general practitioners. With this tool, people can enter their symptoms online, on the basis of which it is decided whether or not they have to be tested for COVID-19. As a result of this tool, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement no. 160 allows for justified absences from work of up to 36 hours in order to undergo a COVID-19 test.
Another new measure concerns the (re)compulsory telework for at least 4 days per week. For this, the employer must file a telework declaration to the RSZ/ONSS.
We explain this further below.
1. The Self Assessment Testing Tool and Collective Bargaining Agreement no. 160
The "Self Assessment Testing Tool" implies that people who have symptoms that could indicate a COVID-19 infection, can fill out an online questionnaire (https://sat.info-coronavirus.be/nl/formulier/sat (Dutch) or https://sat.info-coronavirus.be/fr/formulier/sat (French)), and assess whether or not a test for COVID-19 is useful.
After completing the questionnaire, a code may be generated for a free COVID-19 test. With this code, an appointment can be made at a test center or a pharmacy. Together with the code, an absence certificate is issued. This certificate allows the employee to be absent from work for a maximum of 36 hours with retention of salary.
This tool applies to persons showing "mild" symptoms.
Persons who feel very ill, show serious symptoms or belong to a risk group cannot use this tool. They should consult a doctor who will decide on their (in)capacity to work.
Persons who have had a high-risk contact or who need a test for travel cannot use this tool either.
For privacy reasons, the employer may not ask for the employee's test results. But, if the employee tests positive, a quarantine certificate or a certificate of incapacity for work will be issued by the treating doctor. The employee will then be able to telework if possible or can make use of the temporary unemployment scheme for COVID-19.
This form of legitimate absence was created by the Collective Bargaining Agreement no. 160 which expires on 28 February 2022. Employees can call on these rules during this period, only three times.
2. Compulsory telework and telework filings to the National Social Security Office
As of 22 November 2021, teleworking is compulsory for all companies, associations and services for at least 4 days a week for all persons employed, unless this is impossible due to the nature of the function of the employee or the continuity of the operation of the business, the activities or the services.
If teleworking is not possible, the necessary measures must be taken to ensure maximum compliance with the rules of social distancing (1.5 metres distance between each person and compulsory wearing of the mask). The employer is also obliged to provide a certificate to those employees who cannot telework, justifying the need for their presence at the workplace.
The employer is again obliged to register telework online every month via the RSZ/ONSS portal site.
This means that employers must report a limited number of data to the RSZ/ONSS every month, namely:
- The number of persons employed. If the enterprise has several establishment units, this information must be reported for each establishment unit;
- The number of people working at the company who have a job that cannot be performed at distance. If the company has several establishment units, this information must be reported for each establishment unit.
- The declaration refers to the situation on the first working day of the month and must be submitted by the 6th calendar day of the month at the latest.
- With respect to the period up to and including 31 December, the reference situation is Wednesday, 24 November 2021. The declaration had to be filed by Tuesday, 30 November 2021.
- The declaration concerning the situation on 3 January 2022 must be filed by Thursday 6 January 2022.
- For subsequent months, the situation on the first working day of the month must be taken into account and the declaration must be made by the sixth calendar day of the month, unless the situation has not changed compared to the previous month. Thus, if there are no changes in the months following, no new declaration must be filed.
This obligation to file telework does not apply to:
- SMEs employing less than 5 persons, regardless of the nature of their employment relationship;
- establishments that work with hazardous substances;
- employers in the health care sector;
- the police services;
- educational institutions except for universities, private schools and other training institutions that pay their own staff;
- the operational services of the civil security;
- prisons, and the judiciary and intelligence services.
If you would like more information on this subject, please do not hesitate to contact our specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org or +32 (0)2 747 40 07.