Energy check, absence certificate and pension for assisting spouses regulations approved in Belgium
The Chamber of Belgium approved Thursday in plenary session a majority bill which contains various measures decided by the government in mid-September to support households and businesses against increasing energy prices.
For households, support of 135 euros for gas and 61 euros for electricity will be put in place for the months of November and December 2022. The measure will be targeted according to income and contracts. It is a question of helping the "extended middle class" which cannot benefit from social tariffs.
In addition, the federal government has decided to increase the fuel oil check, increasing it from 225 to 300 euros. It will be possible to request it until March 31, 2023.
These new aid measures are in addition to those already decided previously, including the maintenance of the extended social tariff until March 31, 2023 and the maintenance of VAT at 6% on gas and electricity until the same date.
Measures are also planned for companies and the self-employed people with the possibility of deferring payment of social security contributions and tax, establishment of temporary 'energy' unemployment, a moratorium on bankruptcies and setting of excise duties gas/electricity at the European minimum for the months of November and December.
For temporary unemployment, the worker will receive 70% of his remuneration, like what was practiced during the Covid crisis.
The approved text also includes a socialist proposal temporarily raising the exemption thresholds.
The Chamber also approved a bill from the Minister of Labour, Pierre-Yves Dermagne, which reviews the obligation to present a medical certificate in the event of incapacity for work. The workers will not be required to present a medical certificate three times a year for the first day of incapacity for work. SMEs may derogate from this exemption. With this measure, the government intends to follow in the footsteps of other European countries, which have already abolished the medical certificate for short-term absences. In these countries, this measure has had a positive effect on absences for short-term illness and has even led to a decrease, according to the minister. In addition, with this measure, the government aims to reduce the administrative burden on general practitioners.
The Chamber also approved a bill by the Minister for the Self-Employed, David Clarinval, which improves the pension of "assisting spouses" of self-employed persons who were unable, before 2003, to build up pension rights and who are going to retire without being able to prove thirty years of career.