November 28, 2021

Belgium decides to return to teleworking

In Belgium, “All the lights are red”Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Wednesday November 17th. “We are witnessing an explosion of cases of contamination”, added the Minister of Health, Frank Vandenbroucke, to justify the “Difficult decisions” taken by the federal government.

Initially scheduled for Friday, a consultation committee between the federal state and the regions met urgently to decide, among other things, to return to telework. The strong reluctance expressed by employers will have changed nothing: from Saturday 20 November and until 12 December at least, all those who can will have to work at home for at least four days a week.

Then it will be a minimum of three days. The measure will apply to both the public and private sectors. During the previous phases of the pandemic, 40% to 60% of Belgians had worked remotely but, in recent weeks, many companies have required their employees to be physically present.

“We are not opposed to telework per se and its maximum application where possible, but rather to the obligation, reacted, Wednesday, Pieter Timmermans, the boss of the Federation of Businesses. The impact on the number of contaminations will be negligible. “ The bosses argue instead for an acceleration of vaccination, a third booster dose and a general obligation of vaccination.

A third dose

If the government promises ” as quickly as possible “, without setting a schedule, a third dose for alland a second for those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine –, on the other hand, he did not settle the question of an obligation to vaccinate. The subject divides the parties of the federal majority and, according to Mr. De Croo, it would be difficult to implement in practice. A “Analysis of possible avenues” was however started when at this stage 75% of the population had received two doses.

Compulsory vaccination of nursing staff by 1is April is another divisive subject. Under pressure from the unions, the president of the (French-speaking) Socialist Party, Paul Magnette, opposed it and disowned his deputy prime minister, Pierre-Yves Dermagne, who had lined up behind a collegial decision by the federal government. Mr. Magnette fears that an obligation for caregivers only will not cross the course of the Council of State. So it will be, according to him, “Everyone or nobody”.

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