Unemployment with company allowance scheme

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Date:
03 May 2019

Specific schemes: extension and change of the age conditions

Since the period of validity of the collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) concluded for the period 2017-2018 expired on 31 December 2018, the National Labour Council (NLC) had to modify the existing framework CBAs in order to give the specific and exceptional schemes access to the Unemployment with Company Allowance (UCA) scheme for employees under 62 years. The NLC has published 13 CBAs to make this happen. The CBAs not only extend the specific schemes, but also change the age conditions for (almost) all the specific schemes.

It is increasingly difficult to enter the general UCA scheme (age of 62 and an occupational history of 40 years (men) or 35 years (women in 2019, rising to 40 years in 2024)). However, there exist some specific schemes that provide exceptions and make it possible to enter the UCA scheme at a lower age and with a shorter occupational history: these are the “medical reasons” scheme, the “long occupational history” scheme, the “heavy occupations” scheme, the “working at night” scheme and the scheme for “company in difficulty or restructuring”.

Medical reasons
The NLC has extended the UCA scheme at the age of 58 years with an occupational history of 35 years for a disabled employee or an employee with serious physical problems for the period 2019-2020.

The companies are able to grant this scheme and do not depend on any initiative from the sectors.

Company in difficulty or restructuring
For this scheme, the age condition is increased to 60 years by the end of 2020, as follows:

  • 58 years for the period from 1 January 2019 until 30 December 2019;
  • 59 years for the period from 31 December 2019 until 30 December 2020;
  • 60 years for the period from 31 December 2020.

To take advantage of this scheme, a CBA or collective agreement is required at company level.

Long occupational history, heavy occupation and night work
For the following schemes, the NLC sets the age of access at 60 years as from 1 July 2021:

  1. UCA scheme as from 59 years with an occupational history of at least 33 years (of which at least 20 years night work, or at least a certain number of years in a heavy occupation, or with an employer in the construction sector combined with an incapacity for work);
  2. UCA scheme as from 59 years with an occupational history of at least 35 years (of which at least a certain number of years in a heavy occupation);
  3. UCA scheme as from 59 years with an occupational history of at least 40 years;

However, this will gradually increase in two phases:

  • The age of access remains at 59 years for the period from 1 January 2019 until 30 June 2021;
  • And will be raised at 60 years from 1 July 2021.

It should be noted that to make use of the “night work” scheme,
(see 1. above), a CBA is required at sector level. Companies without a joint committee or of which the joint committee is inactive, can enter into to this scheme with a company-CBA or with an act of accession. For the “heavy occupation” scheme (see 2. above), a CBA is required at sector or company level.

Regarding the reduction of the age of access (59 years until 30 June 2021), a CBA on sector level is required for the three schemes.

> Action point
With the dismissal of an older employee, the employer must always verify whether the employee concerned meets one of the conditions of the specific scheme. These schemes are more easily accessible than the general scheme.