The Accent Foreign team is available to answer all your questions; don't hesitate to reach out to your consultant.
This communication has been written on the 12th of May 2020; some information in this Q&A might change along the way. We try to provide you with the best information possible, however we recommend to follow the updated communications given by the Belgian Government.
How accessible is Accent during the Corona crisis?
Our consultants are still available via e-mail, chat or by phone, appointments won't take place face-to-face anymore though. Taking this measure we want to guarantee your health and the health of our consultants.
- You can still reach out to us by phone, e-mail or chat (through the chat functionality in our MyAccent app, which you can download in the App Store or Play Store). Please be aware and understanding that it might take somewhat longer for your consultant to answer your question.
- We try to avoid face-to-face appointments as much as possible. Would it be truly necessary to meet in person, we'll allow only one person to enter the office. We will also follow the strict measures imposed by the Belgian government (keeping enough distance, not shaking hands, etc.)
I am currently still working
I have to go to work. Do I need a document to declare this sort of transportation?
For the time being there is no attestation system in Belgium. This means that nobody is obligated to prove why they are on the road. Nevertheless, we notice the police is doing regular checks.
Therefore, Accent has drafted a standard document we can provide you with would you need it. Make sure to ask your consultant about it.
How do I protect myself from the Corona virus at work?
It's hard to find the right information between all the speculations and different opinions on the internet. That's why the people of 'Play it Safe' made a fun educational video about the correct measures. During the video, you'll find out how to protect yourself in the best way possible.
I am currently unemployed due to force majeure 'Corona virus'
Force majeure 'Corona virus' means that the company you work with has partly or fully stopped their activities due to the current situation, yet you are still employed by Accent and you still get weekly contracts.
On the 21st of March, the RVA (the National Employment Service) officially stated that temporary workers have the right to receive unemployment benefits due to force majeure (Corona). From that moment onwards, Accent has extended all contracts of the temporary workers for whom this unemployment could be linked to the corona virus.
Note that if the company your work for does not file a request for unemployment due to force majeure for their permanent employees, we as an employment agency cannot request unemployment due to force majeure for you as well. In this case you will be able to claim full unemployment benefits.
How do I file for unemployment benefits?
You will have to follow the C3.2 procedure: fill out the C3.2 document and send the request to your labor union or the aid fund (HVW).
There are two possibilities:
- You complete the C3.2 document and e-mail it to the labor union or aid fund.
- You complete an online questionnaire on the site of the labor union (ABVV, ACV, ACLVB) or aid fund (HVW). Following this option, you won't need the C3.2 document any longer. Note that if you are facing problems with filling out your bank account details in the online form, you will however need to complete the C3.2 document as mentioned in point 1.
How much are the unemployment benefits?
In normal circumstances you receive 65% of your last wage with a maximum cap of €2.754,76 gross. When being unemployed due to force majeure, the percentage has increased to 70%. Note that this amount will be subject to a withholding tax of 26,75%.
Under normal circumstances you will receive a weekly payment for your hours worked from us. Unfortunately, this process is different for the payment of your temporary unemployment benefit, given the additional formalities.
In concrete terms, this means that your help fund or trade union will only have the correct information to pay the benefit for the month of March from 13 April onwards. We would therefore like to inform you right now that the same timing will apply for the April benefit. Your paying agent will be able to make payments for April from 11 May.
We fully understand that this delay is not desirable at such times, but unfortunately we cannot control the acceleration of the process ourselves.
If you have been granted the status of 'temporary unemployed due to force majeure' (and only because of this reason!) you will receive an extra € 5,63 per day on top of your unemployment benefits, starting from the 13th of March 2020. This amount is at the expense of the RVA and paid by your payout agency.
The above mentioned adjustment will be in place as long as necessary (at this moment until the 30th of June).
In addition, everyone living in the Flemish speaking part of Belgium will receive an additional allowance to pay for the water and electricity bills. The allowance amounts € 202,68 per fully or partly unemployed person due to the Corona crisis. For more information from the Flemish Government, please visit this website.
I am currently unemployed due to the termination of the contract
You will receive the C4 document by mail and by post, provided by Accent. You will have to deliver the C4 document together with your proof of registration at the VDAB to your 'hulpkas' (aid fund) or to the labor union (if you are a member).
The RVA (National Employment Service) decides if you meet the conditions to get the unemployment benefits. You can contact the aid fund or your labor union for more information or consult this link: https://www.rva.be/nl/documentatie/infoblad/t31.
How do I file my request?
Deliver the proof of registration with the VDAB together with the C4 document signed at the bottom of the last page to the aid fund or your labor union.
You can deposit these documents in their mailbox or send them via e-mail; consult the below mentioned websites to get a hold of the correct contact details.
- HVW ‘aid fund’: https://www.hvw-capac.fgov.be/nl/kantoren
- ABVV: http://www.abvv.be/gewestelijken
- ACV: https://www.hetacv.be/
- ACLVB: https://www.aclvb.be/nl/secretariaten/provincies
How much are the unemployment benefits?
The amount you will receive depends on:
- your wage when you were still working;
- your family situation (living alone, living together or living together with extra family members);
- your professional history.
Fully unemployed pepole receive 65% of their wage during the first three months. The next nine months you'll receive 60% of your last income. Note that there are maximum caps: € 2.671,37 during the first six months and €2.489,76 for the last six months of your first year of unemployment.
The benefits are also subjected to the withholding tax. The benefits can be granted for an unlimited period.
What about holidays, compensation days or collective closure during temporary unemployment?
What about the payment of holidays during temporary unemployment? (in this case Easter Monday)
I have still worked after the 30th of March
You will get fully paid for holidays within 14 calendar days after the contract has been suspended due to the force major. This day will be paid by your employer as being a holiday during a normal employment.
I’ve been temporary unemployed (100%) since the 30th of March or before
You have a contract, but since the 30th of March (or before) there has been temporary unemployment due to force major encoded for you. Your contract will be prolonged and the RVA will pay you the unemployment benefits for that specific holiday. The RVA is paying your holiday since the suspension of your contract was 14 calendar days or more ago.
Do I have a right to take up the compensation days? (in this case for the 14th of April)
A temporary worker in construction has a right for the compensation day in case he/she worked the last working day as a temporary worker before the compensation day.
We received the confirmation from Constructiv that they will also strictly follow these rules for all workers who are currently temporary unemployed.
Thus, to have a right for the compensation day on the 14th of April 2020, you needed to have worked on Friday the 10th of April. In case you didn’t, you will not receive you unemployment benefit for that specific compensation day by Constructiv. However, you will receive your unemployment benefit for being temporary unemployed.
If you have a right for the payment of the compensation day you are going to be paid by Constructiv at the beginning of the month of December 2020, along with the other compensation days from 2020. In December you will receive a document called ‘PDOK-zegelstelsel’. In case you are a member of a union, you need to deliver them the document and they will pay you.
What about collective closure in case of force major?
Some construction companies have decided already (before the crises) to close for a few days next week in the context of collective closure advised by the sector organization.
The rule here is that the first suspension has to be applied. So if the days of collective closure were already fixed at the beginning of the year by the company, this has to be respected even though the company is now in the situation of force major.
Do you have days of yearly holiday left? Then you are obligated to use these first in the period of the collective closure.
Can I earn an extra penny when I am temporarily unemployed due to force majeure?
Yes, you may earn an extra penny, but you will not be entitled to benefits for that day either. We briefly list the conditions below.
You may work or take up employment with an employer other than the one by whom you are temporarily unemployed, for example as a temporary employee or flexi-jobber. The income from this employment cannot be combined with the unemployment benefit. So on the day on which you normally have to be at work, but are not due to temporary unemployment, you will receive either your temporary unemployment benefit or your salary from your flexi-job. This employment must be notified to the payment institution so that benefits are not paid unduly. If necessary, the excess benefits will be recovered.
Employees who are currently temporary unemployed can at the same time go to work in agriculture, forestry and horticulture without losing their right to the unemployment benefit. They can therefore receive 75% of their unemployment benefit (including the extra allowance of EUR 5.63 a day) along with 100% wages as income from their agricultural, forestry and horticultural work for the same day.
Can I ask for a postponement of the payment of my mortgage loan?
It is true that Belgian banks are prepared to allow people with financial difficulties to defer payment of mortgage loans. The bank will probably ask you for a certificate proving that you are suffering financial loss. You can request this from your employer or your contact person at your temporary employment agency (if you work via temporary employment).
Are the days of temporary unemployment due to force majeure included in the calculation of annual leave?
The days of temporary unemployment due to force majeure for the period from 2 February 2020 to 30 June 2020 will be assimilated to the annual leave.
What if I return to Belgium to get back to work?
We constantly monitor the situation at the border and enforce the measures taken for each country. We want to provide you with the necessary information in this respect as part of preparing your trip to and arrival in Belgium.
If you work for Accent, contact your Accent Foreign office in order to receive a document for your border crossing. This is a document drawn up by the Belgian government that shows that you are employed in Belgium.