Coronavirus: Could temp workers help Belgian companies recover?

Coronavirus: Could temp workers help Belgian companies recover?
Over 60% of Belgian companies are currently teleworking. Credit: Pixabay.

Temporary workers are poised to help get Belgium's companies and sectors up and running following the crisis, according to the federation of human resources service providers.

“The temporary employment sector is ready to play its full part in the recovery," said Paul Verschueren, Director Research & Economic Affairs at Federgon.

"In the short term by supporting companies and sectors in their start-up or relaunch, but also in the longer term by supporting our economy and the labor market in the transition and transformation process that will accelerate due to this crisis,” he added.

In March 2020, the number of hours of temporary work performed decreased by 21.11% compared to the previous month, the federation of human resources service providers reported on Monday.

What this means, in effect, is that during the second half of March, more than 54,000 temporary workers lost their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis, Federgon points out.

The number of hours worked fell by 21.66% on the blue-collar side and by 20.40% on the white-collar side across the three regions of the country.

"From the announcement of compulsory closures on Saturday 14 March, and the announcement of containment on Tuesday 17 March, the situation deteriorated drastically," explained Federgon. The federation additionally recorded a drop in activity in the sector of around 46% in volume terms, i.e. the loss of 54,000 full-time equivalent jobs in two weeks.

"The estimates for April are largely comparable to the figures for the second half of March. There does not seem to be an immediate further decline,” said Verschueren.

Progressive deconfinement

Following the latest announcement of measures on Friday, shops will be able to reopen in Belgium from 11 May, causing a potentially large shift in jobs restarting.

Telework will still remain the norm as much as possible, and wearing a mask will become obligatory on public transport.

Restaurants, bars and cafés will however still have to remain closed.

A potential reopening for that sector is not expected before 8 June and must still be reviewed. “That phase will be complex to tackle,” said Belgium’s Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès on Friday.

Jules Johnston

The Brussels Times

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