Belgium: Towards the End of Mandatory Telework
The government is relaxing the telework rules in two steps. The first step went into force on 9 June 2021, when employers were allowed to organise come-back moments for their employees. The second step will take place on 1 July 2021, when (if confirmed by the government, which it is expected to do) telework will cease to be mandatory.
Since 9 June 2021:
- Telework is still mandatory for everyone with a function for which telework is possible.
- Employers still have an obligation to register their teleworking employees and independent contractors, who normally work in the company (before it was unclear whether self-employed persons had to be registered). The registration is no longer mandatory for SME’s with less than 5 employees, employers in the health care and education sectors and employers in construction, cleaning and the meat processing sectors (which already have a standard system of mandatory registration).
- Employers can organise come-back moments for employees, under the following conditions:
- This is limited to 1 day per person, per week.
- Maximum 20% of the workers can be there at the same time (or max. 5 for SME’s with 10 or less employees).
- Mutual agreement is necessary: the employer cannot be forced to organise a come-back moment, nor can the worker be forced to participate in these moments.
- The purpose of these moments needs to be the psychosocial well-being of the workers and the improvement of the team’s spirit (but team-building exercises are not permitted).
- The employer needs to give instructions in advance, regarding the health and safety measures for the comeback.
- The employer cannot connect any consequences to the comeback for the workers.
- Employees cannot return when exhibiting symptoms of illness.
- Common transport to the workplace should be avoided.
- All preventive measures remain in place (social distancing, facemasks, etc.).
- Professional events inside, with catering, are limited to max. 50 persons.
As from 1 July 2021:
- Telework will no longer be mandatory, but highly recommended. In practice, this means that offices can reopen for all employees, but it remains preferable to allow employees to telework whenever possible, in order to prevent companies from becoming overcrowded and the high risk of infection associated with such conditions.
- The registration obligation will cease to exist.
- All preventive measures are expected to remain in place (social distancing, facemasks, etc.).
- Professional events inside, with catering, are limited to 100 persons.
The next steps are 30 July 2021, when professional events inside, with catering, will be restricted to 250 persons and 1 September 2021, when there will no longer be any limits for such events. It is still unclear when telework will cease to be recommended and when preventive measures will no longer be necessary.