On Thursday 30 April, the Ministerial Decree setting out concrete arrangements for the announced easing of the Coronavirus measures from 4 to 10 May was published in the Belgian Official Gazette.
Click here for the full text (in French).
The distinction between essential and non-essential has not really been lifted. We see an easing of the restriction for the non-essential sectors.
We shall go over the adjustments relating to employment in companies below.
1. Easing for the non-essential sectors
- Teleworking is no longer mandatory, but is still recommended.
In all non-essential companies, irrespective of their size, teleworking is recommended for all staff members whose duties lend themselves thereto.
If teleworking is not used, the companies are to take the necessary measures to ensure maximum compliance with the social distancing rules, in particular maintaining a distance of 1.5 metre from each person. This rule applies also to the transport organized by the employer.
- All companies may return to work in all situations subject to compliance with temporary and appropriate preventive measures.
The social distancing rules shall continue to apply. For employment situations where it is not possible to maintain a distance of 1.5 metre, companies must take timely preventive measures that provide at least an equivalent level of protection.
These appropriate preventive measures pertain to health and safety requirements of a material, technical and/or organizational nature as set out in the generic guide (text in French), supplemented with guidelines at the sectoral and/or company level, and/or other appropriate measures which provide at least an equivalent level of protection.
No additional sectoral directives have been adopted for the technology sector (Joint Committee 111/209 – 105/224 – 219 - 315.01). The ancillary Joint Committee for Clerical Employees (Joint Committee 200) also refers to the application of this generic guide in a statement (text in French).
Collective measures always take precedence over individual measures when devising preventive measures in companies. The measures must be defined and taken in compliance with the rules of social consultation in the undertaking, or failing that, in consultation with the workers concerned and with the prevention and protection services.
Companies must inform employees in good time about the preventive measures in force and provide appropriate training for them. Third parties must also be informed in due course about the preventive measures in force.
Employers, employees and third parties are required to apply the preventive measures in force in the company.
2. Essential sectors
Sectors and employers in the crucial sectors and essential services which have not interrupted their activities and have already taken the necessary safety measures use the generic guide as a source of inspiration.
3. Role of the Wellbeing Monitoring Service
The social inspectors are tasked explicitly in the Ministerial Decree with informing and guiding employers and employees. They must also continue to monitor compliance with the requirements in force in companies.
4. Access to the premises of companies
The Ministerial Decree also clarifies that access to the premises of companies is to be granted to the public only with regard to relations between professionals and between professionals and public authorities, subject to compliance with the appropriate preventive measures.
The premises of companies in crucial sectors and essential services are however accessible on condition and insofar as interactions with the public cannot take place at a distance.
Agoria is extremely pleased that such easing of the measures will enable companies to expand or restart their business activities with due focus on healthy and safe conditions.