Employers must pay staff during brownouts
Should power outages strike this winter, employers are still required to pay employees who have to be sent hime for lack of work
“Incomplete working day”
Should a power cut strike, many employees will fall under the rule of the “incomplete working day”: They have worked a certain number of hours but are unable to complete the working day for some reason beyond their control. If the employer has no alternative but to send them home, it still has to pay them for a full day’s work.
The government has established a plan for brownouts – planned power outages if a blackout threatens – should electricity supplies come under pressure this winter as a result of the loss of nuclear generating capacity caused by repairs at three of the country’s nuclear power plants.
Brownouts are scheduled to take place between 17.00 and 20.00, for a maximum of three hours in any given area. Residents will be given 24 hours notice if possible. The brownout plan cannot guarantee, however, there will be no unscheduled power cuts.
The costs of paying employees comes on top of employers’ loss of production, according to Dirk Van Basteleire of SD Worx. “But there are alternatives,” he said. “For example, employees could arrange to take a vacation day on the day of a brownout. Alternatively, working hours could be re-arranged to make the best possible use of the time when power supplies are sufficient.”
Labour regulations also allow for the use of temporary unemployment, a period during which employees are paid by the state. That covers days of no work at all, and employers must demonstrate they have done everything possible to avoid the break in work.