We refer to our newsflash of 1 September 2020 in which we announced the extension until 31 December 2020 of the mutual agreement between Belgium and France, which includes a “force majeure tolerance” for cross-border workers in relation to COVID-19 (travel) restrictions. Currently, most European countries (including Belgium and France) are trying to overcome “the second COVID-19 wave” and trying to prevent “a third wave”, whilst in a race for the anticipated rollout of the vaccine distribution. Consequently, home working is still mandatory and the default position for many employees in the near foreseeable future. Therefore, a further extension of the Belgian-French mutual agreement is now announced until 31 March 2021.
Note: the COVID-19 mutual agreements allow for a fiction in relation to the employment income linked to the “home working days” solely due to the measures taken by the governments of the respective countries to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. If certain conditions are met, and the employee chooses to apply the fiction, these “forced home working days” are deemed to be spent by the employee in the state where the cross-border worker would have exercised the employment in case no such measures had been taken.
In our newsflash of 20 May 2020, we mentioned that the tolerance agreed between Belgium and France applies retroactively as from 11 March until 30 June 2020 but that it could be extended if the competent authorities of both countries timely decide to do so. This mutual agreement was extended a first time until 31 August 2020 (see our newsflash of 29 June 2020) and once more until 31 December (see our newsflash of 1 September 2020). The competent French and Belgian authorities have now agreed to extend the agreement until 31 March 2021. It remains to be seen whether any further extensions (after 31 March 2021) will be made applicable.
The agreement with France is the first of the COVID-19 mutual agreements between Belgium and its neighbouring countries which is made applicable beyond income year 2020. Until further notice, no further extension has been announced yet with regard to the agreements concluded between Belgium and the Netherlands / Germany / Luxembourg. However, we anticipate that a similar extension could become applicable. We will follow-up on any further developments in this respect.
Note: there is also a specific force majeure tolerance applicable between Belgium and France in relation to the specific “frontier workers regime” (see our newsflash of 17 March 2020 in this respect).