The Labour Deal is now a ‘done deal’!
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 plan||Each company with at least 20 employees must draw up a training plan every year before 31st March.|
|3. Platform workers||An 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 employees||Variable 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 redeployment||From 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 week||If 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 regime||If the varying weekly working regime would be introduced in the company, then the work rules must be amended.|
|3. Transition paths||Employees 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-commerce||Employers 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.
The reformed recognition procedure for dock workers… the end of a legal battle?
A new Royal Decree of 21 December 2022 substantially changes the recognition procedure for dock workers. This Royal Decree was issued in the aftermath of a long-standing legal battle initiated by two major players in the sector that challenged the very specific Belgian legislation on dock workers. Although the principle that dock work can only be carried out by recognised dock workers fully remains in place, the application process to become a recognised dock worker should now become (more) objective, non-discriminatory and transparent.Read on
Abolition of the reorientation indemnity’s (partial) reimbursement: a (significant) additional cost for employers conducting a collective lay-off
Employees terminated in the frame of a collective lay-off may participate in a redeployment cell, which helps them to find new employment. Any participating employee is entitled to a monthly reorientation indemnity equal to his/her salary inclusive benefits during a period of 3 or 6 months. The employer pays the reorientation indemnity. Until very recently, an employer could obtain a reimbursement from the unemployment office (“RVA”/“Onem”) for the amount of the reorientation indemnity exceeding the statutory indemnity in lieu of notice.Read on
Draft Belgian Whistleblowing Act now adopted in Parliament!
The draft Belgian Act on whistleblowing for the private sector, which transposes EU Directive 2019/1937 (‘the Whistleblowing Directive’) into national legislation, has finally been adopted in Parliament. The Act still has to be published in the Belgian State Gazette and will enter into force 2 months after its publication.Read on