Will the notice period be suspended during periods of Corona unemployment?
A bill that aims to suspend the notice period during Corona unemployment has been drafted by the competent parliamentary committee. It now remains to be seen whether the House of Representatives will pass this bill into law unamended. This will become clear shortly. We will of course, as always, keep you informed.
If the employer terminates the employment contract by giving notice, this notice period stops running in a number of cases in which the execution of the employment contract is suspended as listed in the Act on Employment Contracts.
One of these cases is the situation of temporary unemployment due to lack of work (so-called economic unemployment).
Since the National Employment Office considers Corona unemployment to be unemployment based on force majeure and not economic unemployment, there were arguments to state that Corona unemployment does not suspend the notice period.
The Parliamentary Committee on Social Affairs, Work and Pensions have drafted a bill whereby the notice period given by the employer will also be suspended in the event of periods of Corona unemployment.
The new provision will apply from the day of publication of the act in the Belgian State Gazette. The bill further stipulates that the new provision will also apply to employees whose notice period is still running on the day of publication of the act in the Belgian State Gazette. For the latter category of employees, the new provision will then apply as from 1 March 2020.
In concrete terms, this would mean the following for employees to whom the employer has given notice and who were Corona unemployed before the date of publication of the act in the Belgian State Gazette:
- for employees whose notice period no longer runs on the date of publication of the new act in the Belgian State Gazette, nothing would change;
- for employees whose notice period is still running on the day of publication of the new act in the Belgian State Gazette, the notice period will be suspended during all periods in which the employee is Corona unemployed as of 1 March 2020 (and this of course for periods both before and after the publication of the act).
If the bill is adopted by the House of Representatives, the notice periods to be performed will henceforth be extended by the periods during which the employee is placed on Corona unemployment. This would also apply to employment contracts that have already been terminated and for which the notice period is still running on the day of publication of the new law in the Belgian State Gazette. We will keep you posted.