2 April 2021

Stepping up enforcement of mandatory telecommuting through monthly telework declarations

Telework was throughout this pandemic compulsory for all workers, unless the job in itself  and/or the continuity of the business, activities or services makes working from home, through the internet, email, and telephone unfeasible.

If telecommuting was impracticable to do the work, employers had to ascertain full compliance of social distancing and enforce the face mask mandate. The employer moreover had to provide salaried workers for whom homeworking was impossible with a certificate or other evidence confirming the need for their presence at the workplace.

The social inspection, an administration enforcing labour law, was tasked with monitoring compliance of mandatory telework for which violations are still penalized through hefty fines.

Because of increased infection rates linked to more virulent Covid-19 strains and metadata showing decreased compliance with the teleworking mandate, the Belgian government was forced to step up enforcement by introducing as of April 1st 2021 monthly mandatory reporting to the National social security administration (RSZ/ONSS).

No later than April 6th 2021, each employer must lodge its first corona telework declaration through a web based registration tool offered by the social security administration on its website (accessible through this link). Only employers working in sectors and industries that have been shut down as a result of Covid-19 measures are exempt from this additional declaration measure.

By implementing this further Covid-19 measure, the government’s ambition is not only to make inroads to a better understanding of the number of workers for whom homeworking is excluded, but also to provide the social inspections a metalevel tool to check on and enforce compliance of the telecommuting mandate.

What needs to be declared?

Two statistics need to be reported:

  1. The total number of employees employed: This is a metric respecting the undertaking applied on the first working day of the month. The employer registers at the beginning of each month the number of persons employed with a certain tenure for each establishment on the first working day of the month.
    For flexi-employees, the current framework agreements are to be taken stock of. Long-term sick employees and persons on time credit are also counted, as well as employees with an itinerant position. If the employer makes use of temporary workers on a structural basis or structurally employs staff from another employer in the establishment unit (e.g. subcontractors, seconded workers, etc.), then this number should be added to the total. This rule also applies if there are persons working structurally in the company on a self-employed basis (freelancers, workers at large, consultants, etc..).
  2. The total number of employees with a function that cannot be executed from home: This is also a picture of the number of individuals working in the company on the first working day of the month. These are employees who cannot telework, even partially or occasionally. Workers who can telework partially or full time do not need to be recorded.
    According to the social security administration with a view to determine the number of employees in the establishment unit with a function that cannot be executed from home, each position that by its nature must be performed on site is to be considered.
    Again, this concerns only individuals who must be present at the company on a structural basis. Persons who are exceptionally present must not be included in the number of employees that cannot work from home.
    If the company makes structural use of temporary workers or if staff from another employer work in the establishment unit on a structural basis, the number of persons who cannot work from home and who are active on the indicated dates, should be added to the total.
    The same applies to persons who are structurally present on a self-employed basis.

No personal or function details are to be reported.

If a company has several establishments, the number of employees and employees who cannot work from home should be registered for each individual establishment.

The social inspection will use these data as a reference point when checking compliance with the telework regulations. Anyone who occupies a position that is prone for teleworking but is still present in the company, when inspected, will have to be able to justify his or her presence.

When and how often to declare?

The registration refers to the situation on the first working day of the month and is submitted at the latest on the sixth calendar day of the month.

A registration is valid for 1 month.

A change or correction can be made by submitting a new declaration with the total number of employed persons in the company or establishment on the first working day of the month and the number of persons having a function that cannot be executed from home.

The most recently submitted declaration replaces the previous declarations.

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