From 1 April 2024 employers are obliged to pay a contribution to the Back to Work Fund in the case of medical force majeure

From 1 April 2024 employers are obliged to pay a contribution to the Back to Work Fund in the case of medical force majeure
March 29, 2024

From 1 April 2024, an employer establishing the termination of an employment contract for ‘medical force majeure’ will have to notify a new ‘Back to Work Fund’ (Fund) set up within the National Institute for Sickness and Disability Insurance (RIZIV/INAMI) and pay a contribution of EUR 1,800 to this Fund. The incapacitated ex-employee can then call upon the Fund to receive a ‘voucher’ for specialised and customised services (e.g. career guidance or personalised coaching) from a recognised service provider for his/her reintegration into the labour market. This new system replaces the special outplacement scheme for medical force majeure.

The former outplacement scheme for medical force majeure

When an employee is permanently unfit to perform the agreed work, ‘medical force majeure’ may be established to terminate the employment contract without notice or compensation. However, to do so a medical force majeure procedure must first be completed with the occupational doctor, which is a procedure that can only be initiated when the employee has already been incapacitated for at least nine months.

Up till now, if the employer has invoked the employment contract termination for medical force majeure, then it has had to offer the employee outplacement assistance for a value of EUR 1,800.

The employer has then been required to make a written outplacement offer to the employee within 15 days of the employment contract’s end, which assistance had to be tailored to the employee with the health issue, unless the Sectoral Fund within the employer’s Joint Committee offered similar outplacement assistance.

The employer’s obligations under the new scheme

From 1 April 2024, this obligation for the employer to make an outplacement offer for medical force majeure is replaced with an obligation to pay a contribution of EUR 1,800 EUR to the new Fund set up within the RIZIV/INAMI.

In contrast to the ‘old’ outplacement scheme that only applied when the employer invoked medical force majeure and not when the employee called upon medical force majeure or when both parties jointly determined the end of the employment contract due to medical force majeure, the new scheme applies in all of these cases.

What formalities must the employer comply with?

Within a period of 45 calendar days after the employment contract is terminated due to medical force majeure, the employer must notify the Fund of this termination and provide it with the following information:

  • The employer’s name, its registration number in the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises, its social security number, bank account number and contact details;
  • The employee’s name and first name and his/her national number.

The employer can also mandate its payroll office to make this notification.

This notification can happen electronically through the RIZIV/INAMI website or on paper by downloading a form from the website and sending it to the following e-mail address: fonds-we@riziv-inami.fgov.be.

After this notification, the employer will receive a request from the RIZIV/INAMI to pay an amount of EUR 1,800 to the Fund. This payment should also be made within 45 days of the employment contract’s termination due to medical force majeure.

What are the employee’s entitlements under the new scheme?

The employee whose employment contract has come to an end due to medical force majeure can then apply to the Fund to finance customised specialised services, such as career guidance or personalised coaching, for reintegrating the employee into the labour market.

To this end, the employee must submit an application to the RIZIV/INAMI within six months of the end of his/her employment contract. Upon approval, the employee will receive a voucher for an amount of EUR 1,800 which he/she can spend on such customised services.

However, coaching or career guidance can only be followed with an RIZIV/INAMI-recognised service provider. 

Penalties for not complying with the new obligations An employer who does not comply with the new obligations can be penalised with a level 2 penalty, i.e. a criminal fine of EUR 400 to EUR 4,000 or an administrative fine of EUR 200 to EUR 2,000.

Written by

  • Philippe De Wulf

    Partner

  • Esther Soetens

    Counsel

Recommended articles

January 25, 2024

When is it too cold to work?

As winter settles in, the challenge of working in cold conditions becomes a significant consideration in the professional landscape. Cold working environments raise concerns about employee well-being and potential violations of occupational health and safety standards.

Read on
January 10, 2024

Employers, be aware of the “hidden protection period” kick-off!

The “hidden protection period” is one of the most remarkable features of the social elections process. The hidden protection period is the period during which candidates already benefit from the specific dismissal protection, even though the candidate lists are only being disclosed to the employer 65 days later.

Read on
December 13, 2023

WEBINAR VIDEO | Help… am I still up-to-date with the current trends in labour law?

During this webinar, we guide you through 2023’s highlights, so that you can start 2024 well-prepared and fully-informed.

Read on