The social partners have agreed to continue with the social elections and to further extend the opportunities for electronic voting and postal voting

The social partners have agreed to continue with the social elections and to further extend the opportunities for electronic voting and postal voting
October 30, 2020

Due to the dramatic increase in Covid-19 infection numbers, there were calls – once again – to postpone the social elections that are scheduled for the period between 16 and 29 November 2020. However, on 27 October 2020, the social partners reached an agreement not to do so, but to extend the opportunities for voting electronically or by post so that the elections can take place in Covid-proof circumstances. The social partners’ agreement contains the following elements: (i) the deadline for entering into an agreement on electronic voting or postal voting – which has in fact already expired – will be extended, (ii) postal voting will also be possible for staff present in the company on the day of the elections, (iii) voting letters including voting ballots can also be sent to voters by ordinary priority (and not registered) mail and (iv) postal votes received up to a maximum of 5 days after the vote has closed can still be considered as valid.

The Social Elections Act must now quickly be amended and voted upon in Parliament.

What has been agreed between the social partners?

  • Companies can still enter into an agreement to vote electronically or by post

In our newsflash of 12 October 2020, we informed you that companies had been given the opportunity to introduce electronic voting or postal voting by X + 56 at the latest (i.e. between 13 and 26 October 2020).

The social partners have now agreed that in light of the pandemic, which is developing dramatically, this deadline of X + 56 will be extended so that companies can still introduce electronic voting or postal voting to ensure that the elections can take place in the safest and healthiest possible conditions.

To this end, an agreement must be entered into with all the representative trade unions that have put forward candidates for the workers’ categories concerned. Such agreement can also include measures to adjust the number of polling stations and the division of voters among them.

  • Postal voting will also be possible for staff present in the company

As indicated in our newsflash of 12 October 2020, postal voting is only allowed in a limited number of circumstances, which include the situation that staff are significantly dispersed. The Employment Ministry has confirmed that the Covid-19 telework measures may involve such a considerable dispersion of personnel that justifies the use of postal voting.

The social partners have now agreed to add the threat posed by the Covid-19 virus to the list of situations in which postal voting will be allowed. This will allow companies to also introduce postal voting for staff present in the company on the day of the elections in the event that the elections cannot be organised safely due to Covid-19.

  • Voting letters and voting ballots can also be sent to voters by ordinary priority (and not registered) mail

In the case of postal voting, the voting letters and voting ballots can also be sent to voters by ordinary priority mail. A registered letter is no longer necessary. The agreement between the social partners does include that witnesses can closely monitor this action.

  • Postal votes received up to a maximum of 5 days after the closure of the vote can still be considered as valid

An agreement can be made with all the representative trade unions that have put forward candidates that postal votes received up to a maximum of 5 days after the closure of the vote can still be considered as valid.

ALTIUS’ Employment Team is closely monitoring this topic and will inform you of all important developments.

Written by

  • Philippe De Wulf

    Partner

  • Esther Soetens

    Counsel

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