CORONA MEASURES UPDATE: I want to send my foreign employees to Belgium to work there. What coronas measures must I take into account?
At the beginning of September, the last part of the Summer Plan came into force, our freedom was back in sight. However, this “regained” freedom was of short duration. The last weeks we saw an increase of the virus circulation, and a growing pressure on the hospitals.
At the last Consultation Committee of 26 October, a number of corona measures were (again) tightened and this in the fight against the predicted autumn wave.
If you wish to post foreign workers to Belgium, you must observe the following rules.
1. ARRIVAL OF FOREIGN TRAVELLERS FROM A RED ZONE WITHIN THE EU
Persons who have planned a stay in Belgium of more than 48 hours must complete the Passenger Localisation Form (hereinafter PLF) electronically within 6 months prior to arrival in Belgium, even if they have already been vaccinated (Passenger Localisation Form).
The PLF document must be completed by all persons travelling to Belgium, except (a) when staying in Belgium for less than 48 hours or (b) when returning to Belgium after staying abroad for less than 48 hours.
In the following cases, it is always mandatory to fill in the PLF document, regardless of the duration of the stay (in Belgium or abroad).
- Those returning by plane or boat;
- People travelling to Belgium by train or bus from a country outside the EU or Schengen zone;
- Those who stayed in a ‘very high risk country’ during the last 14 days (a ‘very high risk country’ is a third country with a high risk of contracting a variant of the COVID-19 virus of concern, for the time being no countries are qualified as ‘very high risk countries’).
The measures that persons must take on arrival in Belgium depend on the colour code of the country or region where the traveller has been in the last 14 days before arrival in Belgium, as follows from the completed PLF document (Colour codes per country).
There are no additional measures for travellers returning from a green or orange zone. They do not have to be tested on arrival in Belgium, nor are they required to go into quarantine.
The situation is different for travellers returning from a red zone within the EU (measures when arriving in Belgium).
Travellers with a valid vaccination or recovery certificate are not required to undergo quarantine or testing in Belgium. Travelers returning from a red zone without a vaccination or recovery certificate must enter quarantine and be tested upon arrival (unless they had a negative PCR test 72 hours earlier). If this first test is negative, quarantine ends. However, an additional test on day 7 after return is still necessary.
Persons who were able to present a negative PCR test are not obliged to go into quarantine upon arrival in Belgium. For these travellers, it is sufficient to be retested on day 7.
Travellers who live or reside in Brussels (and who have no vaccination or recovery certificate) should be tested on day 1 and day 7. In addition, these travellers must remain in quarantine until the result of the second test is known.
Please note! The above situation only applies to travellers returning from a red zone within the EU.
As the number of COVID-19 infections has increased in recent weeks, we do not exclude that more and more countries and/or regions will turn red on the corona map. If you are uncertain about the measures to be taken upon arrival in Belgium, you can always contact us for the most recent information.
The workers who will be employed in Belgium will also have to take into account the ‘intensified’ corona measures, which will come into force on Friday 29 October.
2. EXTENSION OF COMPULSORY MOUTH MASKS IN THE “WORK SPHERE”
The Consultation Committee of 26 October has again extended the current mandatory use of masks in Belgium (e.g. in public transport and in medical and non-medical contact professions) to a general obligation to wear a mask in indoor spaces accessible to the public in companies, government buildings and courthouses, such as meeting rooms and open offices.
Workers employed on construction sites, and thus in outdoor areas, are not strictly speaking covered by the extended mask obligation. However, it must be taken into account that wearing a mask and/or respecting a safe distance (1,5 meter) have always been important tools to prevent the spreading of the COVID-19 virus, also for this category of workers.
In situations where organizational measures and collective protective equipment cannot provide sufficient protection, wearing the mask is necessary as an additional measure, in conjunction with other preventive measures and with respect for the prevention hierarchy as provided for in the Welfare Codex. This is the case when the distance of 1.5 meters cannot be respected, whether the work is done inside or outside.
3. COVID SAFE TICKET (‘CST’)
The mouth mask (cfr. 2) is not compulsory in places where a Covid Safe Ticket (‘CST’) can be presented. From 1 November onwards the government wants to apply this CST in all catering establishments, fitness centres and for smaller events (200 persons inside/400 persons outside). The staff employed at these establishments will already be obliged to wear the mask from 29 October onwards.
Please note that employers cannot introduce the CST as a measure to deny employees access to work. The Data Protection Authority has ruled that the information on the CST (i.e. vaccination status, recent infection with COVID-19, negative COVID-test) is health data, and that requesting this information constitutes processing of personal data, for which a legal basis must be available (which is not yet the case).
In concrete terms, this means that the employer may not ask his/her employees, nor the employees of a subcontractor, nor employees or self-employed persons who come to perform services in the company to submit a CST.
4. (CORONA)TELECOMMUTING AGAIN RECOMMENDED
Throughout the COVID-19 epidemic, teleworking has always been an important tool of the public authorities to prevent the spread of the virus as much as possible. The Consultative Committee of 26 October decided again to strongly recommend teleworking for all businesses, not only for those based in the Brussels-Capital Region. However, teleworking is not necessary if the nature of the business or service does not allow it.
5. SPECIFIC RULES FOR EMPLOYMENT OF FOREIGN WORKERS AND/OR SELF-EMPLOYED PERSONS
The Cooperation Agreement of 14 July 2021 (BS 23 July 2021) provided for the following obligations for employers/users who temporarily use a worker and/or self-employed person residing or staying abroad:
- The obligation to keep a register with an updated list of personal data of the employed and/or self-employed person (article 28 § 2 Cooperation agreement);
- Checking the PLF document at the start of work (Article 29(1) of the Cooperation Agreement);
- If the employee or self-employed person residing or residing abroad and working in Belgium is required to have a negative test result for a test taken prior to arrival on Belgian territory, the person concerned must retain proof of this negative test result until the fourteenth calendar day after the date of arrival on Belgian territory. This negative test result can be checked by the prevention advisers-occupational doctors and by the social inspectors (Article 30 Cooperation agreement).
Employers who employ foreign workers and/or self-employed persons must therefore be careful not to neglect these additional obligations under the Cooperation Agreement.
Date newsflash: October 29, 2021.