Latest updates

Reopening your workplace after lockdown: 10 key questions
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 08 July 2020

With the exit from lockdown in full swing, many companies are recalling their staff to the workplace. This article answers 10 FAQs that employers, business managers and HR specialists must consider during their employees' return to work, including what are employers' health and safety obligations, must employers consult staff or employee representatives on their health and safety measures and do fines or penalties for non-compliance exist?

No retroactive suspension of notice period due to COVID-19 temporary unemployment
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 24 June 2020

Until now, there has been no suspension of the notice period served on employees who have been made temporarily unemployed under the specific 'COVID-19 regime'. As employers could dismiss employees 'cheaply', a draft bill to suspend the notice period in the event of COVID-19 temporary unemployment was submitted in Parliament. The Chamber of Representatives has now voted to introduce the law without retroactive effect. But what does this mean for employers?

FAQs: Employment Ministry's and DPA's new positions on checking employees' temperatures
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 17 June 2020

The controversial issue of whether employers can check their employees' temperatures has been much debated. The Employment Ministry and the Data Protection Authority (DPA) have recently changed their positions in this respect. The Employment Ministry allows temperature checks, but only during the COVID-19 pandemic and provided that the decision to introduce such checks is included in the company's work rules. The DPA has also clarified its position regarding the processing of personal data.

Government measures to assist companies during COVID-19 pandemic – interview
ALTIUS
  • Insolvency & Restructuring
  • Belgium
  • 12 June 2020

Due to the lockdown measures and other restrictions imposed by the government to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are dealing with revenue losses while having the same level of (fixed) costs. In this video, Bart Heynickx, counsel at ALTIUS, discusses various insolvency issues that are arising in Belgium as a result of COVID-19.

Night work in e-commerce companies in 2020: nothing new under the sun?
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 20 May 2020

With e-commerce growing at an unprecedented rate across the globe, in the past few years the Belgian legislature has taken several measures to make Belgium a more attractive hub for e-commerce activities. Among other things, such measures were meant to facilitate the introduction of night work schemes within companies. Some of these measures ended on 31 December 2019. What does this situation mean for companies and the night work schemes introduced in 2018 and 2019?

Social elections procedure postponed due to COVID-19
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 13 May 2020

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the social partners have decided to suspend the current social election procedure and postpone its continuation until after the summer. This article outlines the most important consequences of this postponement for employers.

Is my business automatically protected against creditors during COVID-19 crisis?
ALTIUS
  • Insolvency & Restructuring
  • Belgium
  • 08 May 2020

Due to the lockdown measures and other restrictions imposed by the government to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are dealing with revenue losses while having the same level of (fixed) costs. Royal Decree No 15, which recently entered into force, implements new temporary measures to protect businesses that had not ceased payment before or on 18 March 2020 but found themselves in difficulty afterwards due to the COVID-19 crisis. These measures will last until 17 May 2020, unless extended.

Parliament adopts act increasing transparency of managed entry agreements
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 06 May 2020

Parliament recently adopted a new act to increase the transparency of managed entry agreements (MEAs) concluded between pharmaceutical companies and the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance. MEAs stipulate confidential compensation mechanisms for the government regarding the publicly listed price and reimbursement basis of the medicines concerned.

New COVID-19 employment measures to respond to economic crisis
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 29 April 2020

The government has adopted new socio-economic measures that aim to support the Belgian economy during the COVID-19 economic downturn. Most of the measures seek to encourage individuals to continue working and allow for more flexibility in the way that work can be carried out. This article provides an overview of the different measures that have been approved by the Council of Ministers.

Medical supplies: public procurement procedures in cases of extreme urgency
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 29 April 2020

The COVID-19 outbreak has created an urgent need for certain goods, including medicines and medical devices. However, do public authorities (eg, hospitals) still need to follow the complete public procurement procedures to procure these urgently needed goods? In cases of extreme urgency, such as that presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, contracting authorities can use the negotiated procedure without publication to place tenders.

How to introduce a temporary COVID-19 unemployment regime based on force majeure
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 29 April 2020

Until recently, when considering implementing a temporary unemployment regime within a company, employers could, depending on their specific situation, apply for the temporary unemployment regime based on either 'force majeure' or 'economic reasons'. The government has implemented a temporary COVID-19 unemployment regime whereby if an employer is faced with temporary unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this situation is automatically considered to be force majeure.

Federal government restricts sale of PPE and medical devices for fighting COVID-19
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 29 April 2020

The minister of economic affairs recently adopted a ministerial decree which restricts the retail and wholesale distribution of certain types of personal protective equipment and medical devices used for treating COVID-19 patients. Further amendments were implemented by ministerial decrees on 27 March 2020 and 7 April 2020. This article provides a short description of the relevant trade restrictions followed by a legal analysis in light of fundamental principles of EU law.

Does competition law allow competing researchers to collaborate on COVID-19-related R&D?
ALTIUS
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • European Union
  • 23 April 2020

New vaccines, quick and trustworthy diagnostic tests and effective medicines are key to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. The development of these products depends on pharmaceutical companies, R&D companies, research institutes and universities. However, one question remains: what are the competition rules regarding COVID-19-related R&D?

Medicinal product reimbursement during pandemics and budgetary constraints: why quick fixes don't work
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 22 April 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the fact that an EU common policy in the healthcare sector is virtually non-existent, especially in respect of medicinal product pricing and reimbursement. This article illustrates the need for national pricing authorities to consider that their policies could have unintended consequences and cross-border effects. Otherwise, national measures risk backfiring, as seems to have happened with the Belgian authorities' most recent attempt at further reducing medicinal product prices.

FAMHP adopts measures to avoid medicine shortages during COVID-19 pandemic
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 15 April 2020

The Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products recently adopted a consolidated version of its decision to take a series of urgent measures for certain listed medicines (and raw materials) to avoid medicine shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures apply until the end of April 2020 but may be renewed on a monthly basis. This article discusses the measures and their legality under EU law in more detail.

DPA approves draft act prohibiting life and health insurers from processing health tracker data
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 18 March 2020

The Data Protection Authority (DPA) has approved a draft act that would prohibit life and health insurers from processing data from policyholders' health trackers. Notably, data from health trackers and apps can still be used for any other insurance that does not qualify as life or health insurance. However, in its advice, the DPA appears to acknowledge that all data coming from health trackers and lifestyle-related apps is likely to be considered health data.

New act on medicinal product shortages
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 04 March 2020

A new act amending various legal provisions concerning shortages of medicinal products was recently published in the Official Gazette. Arguably, the new legislation does not prevent pharmaceutical companies from applying quotas, provided that they do not affect the public service obligation of wholesaler-distributors (also known as 'full-line wholesalers'). In addition, the act arguably imposes no general obligation on pharmaceutical companies to supply retail pharmacies directly.

Limits to privileged claims
ALTIUS
  • Insolvency & Restructuring
  • Belgium
  • 28 February 2020

A Supreme Court judgment has clarified that new financing during reorganisation proceedings in principle results in new claims, leading to a privileged status of such claims in the framework of any subsequent liquidation. Further, it confirms that the courts require financing to be actual and new (ie, mere refinancing is insufficient).

Clawback: chasing assets
ALTIUS
  • Insolvency & Restructuring
  • Belgium
  • 13 December 2019

The legal form of the actio pauliana offers options for creditors which are confronted with debtors that are disposing of important assets or organising their insolvency. This article reflects on some of the options offered under Belgian law by the actio pauliana, commonly referred to in English as the 'clawback' rules.

Incentives and public procurement in the healthcare sector: be careful what you wish for
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 23 October 2019

The Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products recently issued a circular letter reminding the different actors in the Belgian healthcare sector that incentives in the course of public procurement procedures should be considered carefully. Further, the circular letter underlined the risk of contravening the ban on receiving gifts, monetary advantages or benefits and public procurement rules.