The federal government has decided to release a total of 835 million additional euros to support the sectors most affected by Covid-19 and which will reopen soon, announces the Council of Ministers.
The kern (small ministerial committee, editor’s note), took measures this morning in order to boost the restart of sectors very affected by the coronavirus, in particular the hospitality industry. Concretely, an additional 835 million euros are on the table. Other sectors will benefit from new aid when re-employing temporarily unemployed employees or when creating new jobs linked to the recovery.
The support package announced on Wednesday also includes a series of social measures such as a protection premium for employees in non-medical contact jobs, impacted by the closures. “These are concrete and immediate help, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said at the microphone of our reporter Mathieu Col for RTLINFO. It is a reduction in VAT, which gives more oxygen to all these entrepreneurs who, for months, had to wait and are now preparing to relaunch their activities in May. There are also reductions in social charges for companies that will have more staff in the future. Companies that are going to get people out of technical unemployment will see that social charges for new jobs will be reduced. All this is done with a view to restarting the economy “.
In addition, flexibility will also be required for student jobs. “Students, during the 3rd quadrimester of the year will be able to work more, promet Alexander De Croo. “The hours limit will be lifted during this period because we know that during this period, it is possible that the catering industry will have difficulty finding staff. After a long period of closure, people may have found other jobs “, justifies the Prime Minister.
Here is the press release from the Council of Ministers, describing all the measures decided:
Temporary reduction of VAT in the hotel and catering industry
The government has decided to introduce a temporary reduction in VAT in the hotel and catering industry, starting from the opening of the terraces. These temporary reductions specifically relate to VAT on meals served, which will temporarily drop from 12% to 6%. It also concerns VAT on drinks which will temporarily drop from 21 to 6%, including for alcoholic drinks. This measure should provide an immediate boost to the sector and allow the hospitality industry to restart successfully. This temporary VAT reduction will be in effect until September 30, 2021.
Exemption from annual vacations in the hotel and catering industry
The catering sector mainly uses workers to function. The latter do not receive their vacation pay directly from the employer, but from a vacation fund to which employers in the sector contribute annually. The government has decided that this single contribution will not have to be paid by the employers of the hotel and catering industry in 2021. It will be covered by the federal state. As every year, workers in the sector will benefit from their vacation pay. This measure should make it possible to lighten the costs of the sector heavily affected by health measures.
Boost to reuse via ONSS reduction
An ONSS reduction will take place in the third quarter of 2021 for employers who recover employees temporarily unemployed and / or hire additional employees. This measure will apply to all sectors of activity. It aims to boost employment in the context of scheduled reopenings. This ONSS reduction will be modulated. It will be more important for the sectors which had to close because of the health measures taken as part of the management of covid-19 and which can now reopen. The precise contours of this measure have yet to be defined.
Support for the “corona” unemployed
The federal government has also decided to take a series of measures in favor of Belgians who found themselves unemployed during the coronavirus crisis.
- First, the so-called “covid” period will be neutralized in the calculation of the period of access to unemployment benefits. Concretely, a period of 12 months (corresponding to the duration of the coronavirus crisis) will be derecognized from the individual calculation of each job seeker.
- Second, the temporarily unemployed who have changed jobs and had to switch to a lower paying job will not be financially penalized if they lose or have lost that job again. Their allowance will be calculated on the basis of their previous (higher) salary.
- Third, the protection premium for long-term temporary unemployed provided for in closed sectors will be extended to the non-medical contact trades sector (including hairdressers). This sector was not closed at the time of the granting of this bonus, it nevertheless had to close subsequently and for a long period. This protection premium concerns salaried staff, the self-employed in the sector with dual gateway rights.
Stimulation of student jobs in reopening sectors
Finally, the federal government has decided to stimulate student jobs in the coming months. Student jobs play an important role in the hospitality, events and cultural sectors. The hours worked by the jobiste during the 3rd quarter of 2021 in the closed sectors and which are authorized to reopen will not exceptionally be counted in his annual quota. Normally, students are allowed to work a maximum of 475 hours per year. This measure should help restart the sectors in question, by offering them flexibility and additional resources.
The double gangway right will be extended
At the same time as these new support and restart measures, it was decided to extend during the month of May the double gateway right currently enjoyed by the hotel and catering sector. The reopening of the catering industry will be limited, in fact, over the next few weeks to terraces according to a strict protocol. A new evaluation of this measure will be carried out at the end of the month, depending on the evolution of the health situation.