Update: Belgium’s legislative response to COVID-19
The Belgium government has implemented many legislative changes, grants, incentives, and extensions to ease the strain on business. The following are the current benefits offered.
Temporary Unemployment Scheme
All employers experiencing a temporary closure of their business or a reduction in workflow due to COVID-19 can invoke temporary unemployment (furlough). Employers can suspend full and part-time employment contracts after providing written notification to employees, the Belgian Employment Office, and the appropriate works council or union representative.
Employees are entitled to up to 70% of their salary up to a maximum of €2,754.76 (gross) per month plus a daily allowance of €5.63 (maximum of €150.00 per month) paid directly to the employee by the National Unemployment Office. Students, trainees and public sector employees do not qualify.
Employers can choose to alternate working with non-working days or totally suspend operations for a maximum of four weeks, with the possibility of an extension after a full week waiting period. Companies can register employees here.
Self-employed individuals who can work due to COVID-19 may qualify for a €1266.37/month (single) €1582.45/month (family) indemnity. An indemnity is paid through the social insurance fund after one week of operational cessation.
Social Security Contribution Options
Companies affected by the coronavirus may apply for deferment of social security contributions until 15 December 2020. Companies affected by compulsory closures automatically qualify.
Alternatively, companies experiencing payment difficulties can negotiate an extended repayment plan of up to 24 months, exempting them from contribution increases and interest.
Under certain conditions, employers may be exempted from social security contributions if they pay a supplement to employees on top of unemployment benefits.
Business Loan Payment Deferrals
Companies may defer credit payments for a maximum period of 6 months starting at the latest on 31 October 2020, without any associated costs or fees.
Companies must demonstrate a drop in turnover, temporary unemployment, or forced governmental closure. Deferrals may apply to qualifying companies, organizations, and self-employed individuals.
Guaranteed Loan Scheme
Government guaranteed loans for new credit are available through the National Bank of Belgium and its affiliated lenders for maximum of 12 months until 31 October 2020.
Small and medium enterprises, self-employed persons and non-profit organizations may apply. Interest is calculated at 1.25% on an annual basis (360 days) plus a guarantee premium of maximum 25 bps for SME’s.
Individuals and legal entities with a company number, regardless of sector, can apply for support measures to help them overcome their temporary financial difficulties due to COVID-19.
New repayment plans may apply to withholding tax, personal income tax, corporate income tax, legal entities tax, and other government withholdings.
Delayed VAT Deadline
VAT returns and intra-community declarations deadlines, normally due 20 April, have been postponed to 20 July 2020, with the possibility of extension and a payment plan.
***** While this information is correct at the date of publishing, we recommend you contact us for assistance. Our in-country-experts are tapped into the regulatory and governmental pipeline and your company may qualify for additional measures in the Flemish, Walloon, and Brussels regions. We are here to help you navigate these new various legislative changes, grants, and incentives and their impact on your business.