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COVID-19: New Record-Keeping Obligation and Compliance Check Relating to Foreign Workers and Self-Employed Individuals 

by Emma Van Caenegem

Published: September, 2020

Submission: September, 2020

 



As part of some new measures that aim to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the government has imposed a new record-keeping obligation on certain employers and users which temporarily rely on foreign employees or self-employed individuals. In-scope employers and users must also verify whether the foreign employees and self-employed individuals have duly completed the passenger locator form. These new obligations apply from 24 August 2020 until 31 October 2020, but will likely be extended.


Which employers and users are subject to new obligations?


Not all employers which employ foreign workers or use the services of self-employed individuals fall within the scope of the new record-keeping obligations.


The obligations:


  • apply only to employers active in the construction, cleaning, meat, agriculture and horticulture sectors; and
  • relate only to workers or self-employed individuals living or residing abroad whom employers temporarily rely on for the performance of works in Belgium.

The Ministerial Decree of 22 August 2020 does not further define 'temporarily'.


The new obligations do not apply only to employers – 'users' also fall within the scope of the new rules. A 'user' is defined as any natural or legal person with whom or for whom employees or self-employed individuals work or supply services directly or indirectly (eg, in a subcontractor set-up).


The new obligations do not apply to:


  • works for private purposes only;
  • frontier workers; or
  • employees or self-employed individuals who stay in Belgium less than 48 hours.

Record-keeping obligation


Which pieces of data must be collected and stored?
Employers or users that fall within the scope of the new record-keeping obligation should collect the following data from all foreign workers or self-employed individuals that they temporarily rely on:


  • general identification data (ie, first name, last name, date of birth, national or BIS number and place of residence during the execution of the works in Belgium);
  • a phone number on which the worker or self-employed individual can be contacted;
  • a list of individuals with whom the worker or self-employed individual works, to the extent that it applies.

This data can be used only for purposes relating to the fight against the spread of COVID-19, including tracing and investigating clusters located at the same address.


How should employers or users store this data?
Employers or users should store this data in a register. There is no template format register available. Therefore, an electronic list or register can be used, provided that such a list or register can be made available to the competent (social inspection) officers.


The register should be made available to all of the services and administrations responsible for preventing the further spread of COVID-19, as well as all of the services and administrations in charge of compliance with the measures imposed to reduce the further spread of COVID-19.


How long should this data be stored?
This data should be stored from the start of the employees' work in Belgian territory up to and including the 14th day following their termination.


On the expiry of that period, this data must be destroyed.


Passenger locator form compliance check


Employers and users must also verify whether the foreign worker or self-employed individual has duly completed the passenger locator form. This check must be made prior to the start of the activities in Belgium.


If a foreign worker or self-employed individual cannot provide evidence that the passenger locator form has been completed, the employer or user should ensure that the form is completed in full and on time.


Penalties


Non-compliance with these newly introduced obligations may be subject to a Level 2 penalty based on Article 238 of the Social Criminal Code (ie, an administrative fine ranging between €200 and €2,000 or a criminal fine ranging between €400 and €4,000). The fine is multiplied by the number of employees involved.


Comment


Employers and users which are active in the relevant sectors should ask foreign workers and self-employed individuals for all of the relevant data and proceed with a passenger locator form compliance check prior to the start of employment in Belgium. This obligation also applies between indirect contractors in a subcontractor chain.


For further information on this topic please contact Emma Van Caenegem at ALTIUS by telephone (+32 2 426 1414) or email ([email protected]). The ALTIUS website can be accessed at www.altius.com.


 


 

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