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Belgium – Enhanced protection for teleworkers in workplace accidents

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New Belgian legislation has clarified and improved protection for teleworkers who are the victim of a workplace accident or an accident on the way to work.

In spite of the increasing popularity of remote or ‘teleworking’, until recently, Belgian work‑related accident legislation had not been adjusted to reflect this. An Act of 21 December 2018 containing several provisions on social affairs, which entered into force on 27 January 2019, has filled this gap.

The scope of application of the Workplace Accident Act is thus complemented with definitions of the concepts of ‘telework’ and ‘teleworker’, so that both structural teleworkers (that is, those for whom a frequency and terms for remote working are defined in their employment contract) and occasional teleworkers enjoy the same protection from now on.

Also, the legal presumption that applied previously only in favour of structural teleworkers, (based on which an accident that happened to a teleworker is deemed to have taken place in the course of executing his or her employment contract if it occurs in the place and during the hours of work set out in the employment contract) is now extended to occasional teleworkers. Following the entry into force of the Act, this presumption will not only apply when there is a written agreement (setting out where and during which hours the telework is performed), but also when these conditions are mentioned in another document which allows telework. This can, for example, be a Collective Bargaining Agreement or the work rules, but also an email or letter.

Finally, the route which the teleworker takes from home to his or her children’s school or out-of-school care, and vice versa, is now considered as part of his or her way to work. This means that a teleworker who suffers an accident on this route is now covered by the employer’s workplace accident insurance. The route to or from the teleworker’s home to the place where he or she eats or buys a meal is also considered as part of his or her way to work.

Key message

A teleworker’s workplace accident or accident on his way to work will from now on be more easily recognised and indemnified within the framework of the legal workplace accident regulations.