34% of Belgian employees collected temporary unemployment in April
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34% of Belgian employees collected temporary unemployment in April

Credit: Belga

In April, 34% of Belgian employees experienced at least one day of temporary unemployment, HR services group Acerta reported on Friday.

The figure is based on the analysis of wage data from 32,000 employers and represents a 50% increase compared to March.

At least 11.6% of workers were temporarily unemployed for the entire month of April, according to Acerta, although the real number is actually much higher, as part-time workers work fewer days with their working hours spread out.

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The service sector, trade and the manufacturing industry were the most affected, Acerta reported.

There was also a “dramatic increase” in temporary unemployment in the financial sector, although its share remains relatively small, the HR company noted.

The size of a firm seems to be key in opting for temporary unemployment: the larger the firm, the less likely it is to use it. “However, the link between firm size and temporary unemployment applies only to employees. No correlation could be demonstrated for blue-collar workers,” said Amandine Bosseret, legal counsel at Acerta.

Finally, the proportion of workers who receive a supplement from their company to compensate for unemployment doubled in April compared to March, reaching one-fifth of all affected workers.

“During the first weeks” of temporary unemployment due to special circumstances, “nobody really knew how long this situation would last. Everyone was surprised by the rapid (economic) impact of the coronavirus,” according to Bosseret.

“In April it was already clear to many employers that the crisis would last longer and be financially harder than expected. Many employers reacted by granting their staff a temporary unemployment benefit supplement,” Bosseret said.

The Brussels Times