The Labour Deal is now a ‘done deal’!

The Labour Deal is now a ‘done deal’!
October 5, 2022

It has been long overdue… the Belgian Parliament finally approved the so-called Labour Deal last week. This ‘deal’ includes – amongst other things – the four-day work week, the introduction of ‘transition paths’ during which workers can already start working for another employer during their notice period, redeployment measures and the workers’ right to be offline after working hours. This Labour Deal is intended to put more people to work and give employers and employees more flexibility.

We discussed the new obligations and opportunities for employers and employees that will follow the Labour Deal during our webinars on 26 September 2022 (French session) and 27 September 2022 (Dutch session).

Did you miss those webinars? No problem, you can still view them on our YouTube channel:

Employment Webinar: Help! How do I deal with the Labour Deal in my company? (FR) – YouTube

Employment Webinar: Help! How do I deal with the Labour Deal in my company? (NL) – YouTube

For an extensive overview of the legislative changes, we also refer to our newsflash on the final draft of the new Act:

ALTIUS – The Belgian Government’s ‘labour deal’: the final draft of the bill is presented to Parliament

Checklist – Obligations for the employer

In short, as from when the Labour Deal enters into force (which depends on the publication date in the Belgian State Gazette), the following obligations will apply for every employer.

1.   Right to be “offline”Each company with at least 20 employees will be required to respect the right for each employee to be ‘offline’ after working hours. These companies will have to lay down rules on ‘disconnection’ at the company level in a company CBA or in the work rules by 1 January 2023 at the latest (unless a collective bargaining agreement is concluded by that time either in the National Labour Council or by the applicable Joint Committee that regulates this right collectively).
2.    Introduction of an individual right to training days and an obligation for employers to draw up an annual training planEach company with at least 20 employees must draw up a training plan every year before 31st March.
3.    Platform workersAn insurance for physical damage must be taken out for self-employed platform workers, which must offer protection equivalent to that provided in the Act of 10 April 1971 on work accidents. The date by which this insurance should be in place is not yet known and will be determined by Royal Decree.
4.    Variable working time schedules for part-time employeesVariable working time schedules for part-time employees must be notified to the employees at least 7 working days in advance (instead of 5 working days). In case of an exception by sector-CBA, then the minimum notification period will be increased from 1 working day to 3 working days. The work rules will have to be modified in line with these changes within 9 months after the Labour Deal enters into force (depending on the Labour Deal’s publication date in the Belgian State Gazette). Until this time, the old notification periods continue to apply.
5.    Promoting redeploymentFrom 1 January 2023, employees with a notice period (or indemnity in lieu of notice) of at least 30 weeks will be given the right to take-up ‘employment-enhancing measures’ (e.g. additional outplacement, training or coaching) during the notice period or after payment of the indemnity in lieu of notice with a value equal to the employer’s social security contributions on the salary for 1/3rd of the notice period or on 1/3rd of the indemnity in lieu of notice (minus 4 weeks’ for outplacement). 

Checklist – Possibilities for the employer

From the Labour Deal’s publication in the Belgian State Gazette, the following possibilities will be open for employers.

1.    Introduction of a 4-day work weekIf the 4-day work week would be introduced in the company, then the work rules must be amended with this new possible work schedule. If the weekly working hours exceed 38 hours in the company, then a company-CBA must be concluded.
2.    Introduction of a varying weekly working regimeIf the varying weekly working regime would be introduced in the company, then the work rules must be amended.
3.    Transition pathsEmployees will have the option of already starting to work, on a voluntary basis, for another employer (‘user’) during their notice period. Such work will be organised by the temporary employment agencies or by the regional employment agencies, VDAB/Forem/Actiris. An agreement will have to be concluded between these 4 parties (the initial employer, the employee, the new employer (‘user’) and the temporary employment agency or the regional employment agency) regarding the modalities and the duration of this regulated employee lending.
4.    Nightwork in e-commerceEmployers will be able to set up a one-off experiment for a maximum period of 18 months in which (1) employees can work between 8 pm and midnight on a voluntary basis (without any union intervention) and (2) in which the working time schedules are automatically included in the work rules without having to go through the process for amending the work rules.

Please do not hesitate to contact ALTIUS’ Employment team if you would like any further information or if we can assist with implementing the Labour Deal in your company.

Written by

  • Esther Soetens

    Counsel

  • Mieke D’hanis

    Associate

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