Belgium's strict quarantine rules for travellers returning from a high-risk country after the holidays risk bringing major problems to staff and businesses alike, Belgian business groups warned on Friday.
The Belgian Federation of Enterprises (FEB) and business advisor Liantis are warning employers to be cautious about how they navigate and implement the rules.
Their appeal comes as the approaching end-of-year period risks seeing many residents of Belgium head back home to celebrate.
According to Belgian regulations, from 18 December, any traveller entering the country after being in a high-risk, or red, travel zone must quarantine for a period of ten days.
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The quarantine period can be shortened to seven days if a coronavirus test required to be taken on the seventh day of quarantine comes back negative.
In the latest update of the travel advice page of the Foreign Affair's Ministry, which grades countries coronavirus risks according a series of epidemiological considerations, nearly all countries in Europe, and all countries outside it, are flagged as red travel zones.
"The mandatory quarantine period can cause problems," Liantis wrote in an online statement, urging employers to stick to the right regulations when dealing with their employees' return.
According to the firm, the risk for employees for whom teleworking is not an option is also high, as they cannot benefit from temporary unemployment schemes to continue receiving their wages.
Employers who grant temporary unemployment to staff subjected to the quarantine obligation can risk prosecution if authorities find the scheme was unduly granted, Liantis warned.
"Does an employee just come to work after a visit to a red zone? Then, as an employer, you have the right to send him home," the company noted.
The organisations encouraged employers to find alternatives and possible options "in advance in order to avoid problems," such as scrapping off paid days off from the next year "when the quarantine period falls in 2021," or to turn to telework by assigning different tasks to the employee.
The Brussels Times