The federal government has given labor unions and employers until Friday to reach agreement on additional flexibility to deal with the potential loss of employees due to the omikron variant of the coronavirus. The social partners split without agreement earlier this week. This was confirmed by the Belga news agency.
Unions and employers have negotiated a package of measures within the G10 to respond in the event that too many employees are absent at the company due to illness or quarantine. Employers induce, among other things, more flexible overtime for employees and the possibility of attracting additional employees (for example, job students, temporary employees and also retirees). There is fear among trade unions that the extra flexibility will become structural. On Monday, the social partners separated without an agreement.
The nuclear cabinet is now discussing the file. There, it was decided to give the G10 until Friday to reach an agreement. The government has clearly stated that these are temporary measures. Furthermore, the omikron variant may have peaked and it may not be necessary at all to activate the measures effectively.
The social partners also discuss whether the measures should be applied generally or by sector. In order to provide a framework for this, various services were asked to create a tool that can be used to estimate employee loss in various sectors.
Flemish business organization Voka estimates that an average of 6 percent of employees in the company are absent due to a corona infection or quarantine. In normal periods this percentage is about 2 percent. Voka argued for a “contingency kilobyte” that would give companies the flexibility to deal with severe employee losses.
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