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1. The bridging benefit for self-employed people active in the construction industry: relaxation of the application conditions.
The impact of the corona virus is particularly noticeable in the construction industry. Several government measures, including the social distancing obligation, make it rather difficult for construction companies to continue their activities.
However, construction companies have not been obliged to close, so that self-employed people working in the construction industry were only entitled to the bridging benefit if they could prove that they had ceased their activities during a minimum of 7 consecutive calendar days.
The FPS Social Security will now meet the needs of the sector by regarding the construction industry as equivalent to a sector that must "obligatorily" cease its activities where requests for bridging benefits are concerned.
This means that a self-employed person active in the construction industry can automatically request bridging benefits for the months of March and April without having to prove a temporary discontinuation of activities during 7 consecutive calendar days and without being obliged to actually close his business.
Works outdoors or in vacant buildings can be continued provided that the social distancing rules are observed at all times. Works in inhabited buildings can only be carried out if they are extremely urgent, e.g. urgent repairs or inspections.
Although enterprises in the construction industry are allowed to continue their activities, they are regarded as equivalent to enterprises that are forced to close, so as to make it easier for them to request the bridging benefits.
All enterprises that perform activities falling within the scope of Joint Committee 124 qualify: self-employed construction workers, painters, plumbers etc. can request a bridging benefit without having to prove a discontinuation of their activities during at least 7 calendar days. Directors of construction companies also fall under the relaxed conditions for the bridging benefit.
This relaxation of the rules only applies to self-employed people in the construction industry, not for self-employed people active in other sectors who are not forced to close their business.
2. The interpretation of the concept “dependent family” within the context of the bridging benefit.
Self-employed people who can request a bridging benefit qualify for either the so-called singles benefit of € 1291.69 per month or a benefit for a dependent family of € 1614.10 per month. However, the correct interpretation of the concept “dependent family” is very unclear at present.
Self-employed persons are only entitled to bridging benefits for a dependent family if they can prove that they have dependent family members. These family members may be the children, but also the partner of the self-employed person concerned.
If a self-employed person cohabits with his or her partner, only the partner can lead to payment of a benefit for a dependent family. This means that self-employed people cohabiting with both their children and a partner are only entitled to benefits for a dependent family if it can be proven that the partner is a dependent family member. That is the case if the partner has a monthly income or other benefit not exceeding € 1009.84.
A single self-employed person who has children qualifies for a benefit for a dependent family if the children are dependent on him/her. In other words: if there is no partner, the children are taken into account. Children can only be dependent on one of their parents if they are registered as dependent family members with the health insurance fund. Two self-employed parents who have children but have divorced and are therefore both single must check with their health insurance fund to know with whom the children are registered as dependent family members. Only one of the parents will be able to request benefits for a dependent family.
Below are a few examples:
3. More information about the compensation benefit
As a result of the corona virus measures, some companies are experiencing a considerable decrease in turnover due to the restrictions imposed by the National Security Council. The corona compensation benefit has been created to provide financial support to them. The corona compensation benefit amounts to € 3,000. The benefit for people who are self-employed as a secondary activity amounts to € 1,500, even if they were under the obligation to close their business.
This corona compensation benefit was approved by the Flemish Government on Friday 10 April. It is not yet possible to request this benefit. It is the intention of the Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship VLAIO to have a digital request module online by 1 May.
It will be possible to request the bonus until 30 June.