Social Elections 2020

Every 4 years, it is time again: companies with at least 50 employees (for the Committee for Prevention and Protection at Work) and with at least 100 employees (for the Works Council) must organise social elections for the designation of the employees' representatives in these bodies.

The next social elections will take place between 11 and 24 May 2020 (depending on the chosen election date). However, for employers, work starts as early as mid-December 2019 at the start of a 150-day procedure that precedes the election date and during which action is expected from employers on a regular basis.

Create your Personal calendar, which includes the different steps in the election procedure and do the 'TBU-test' with our tools below, and discover how Altius Employment Team can assist you during this hectic and intense period to make sure all goes smoothly.

Create your personal calendar    TBU Tool

How can Altius help you ?

If you are organising social elections for the first time, then you will undoubtedly have many questions.

But also if this is your third or fourth time, you would probably like to know what has changed compared to the last elections and to receive quick and efficient advice when you have to deal with unforeseen situations or discussions with your trade unions. Or perhaps it is not yet clear to your company whether it will reach the thresholds and will have to organise social elections and you would like to have clarity about this point.

How can Altius Employment team help you ?


We will keep you informed of new developments and give you a short heads-up at every milestone date in the election calendar via our Social Elections Newsflashes. Are you interested in receiving such newsflashes, please register here.


Are you unsure whether a particular employee meets the conditions for applying as a candidate? Does the trade union want to replace a candidate on the candidates list and are you wondering if this is possible? Or do you have questions about electronic voting or the composition of the polling stations?

For these and other small 'ad hoc' questions in the course of the election procedure, Altius Social Elections Hotline Team is ready to give you a quick and ‘to the point’ answer to your questions, either by telephone or via our special social elections e-mail address. We also offer a special fee formula for this type of 'hotline support'.

Interested? Then contact us and find out about our terms and conditions.

Philippe De Wulf
+32 2 426 14 14

Strategic questions and representation in court

If your questions are of a more strategic nature and/or if you need assistance in litigating before the labour tribunals, then our team of experts is at your service.

We are happy to provide you with professional advice on the strategic decisions you may need to make in the run-up to the social elections, such as:

  • the demarcation of the different ‘technical business units’ (this is the level at which social elections should be organised)
  • which employees will be regarded as high level executives or as managerial personnel
  • does your company meet the threshold for organising social elections and how must this be calculated?
  • the impact of contemplated restructurings, mergers, demergers and acquisitions.

In view of the importance of the elections, it goes without saying that during each social elections procedure many employers are engaged in disputes that need to be settled before the labour tribunals. Our Employment Team has important expertise in conducting legal proceedings concerning the social elections and is happy to assist you.

About the ALTIUS Social Elections Calendar

Employers can choose the election date between 11 and 24 May 2020. As such, it is useful to look at which election calendar corresponds to each of the possible election dates, and which will allow you to select the election date that is most convenient for your company.

Click on the button below and compose your personalised calendar with the main dates in the election procedure.

Create your personal calendar

About the ALTIUS 'TBU Tool'

The Works Council (WC) and the Committee for Prevention and Protection at Work (CPPW) must be established at the level of the so-called ‘technical business unit’ (‘TBU’). The TBU does not necessarily coincide with the legal entity. If different legal entities show a sufficient level of economic and social dependence, then they can form one single TBU and so only one WC and/or CPPW must be established.

Do the test below and discover if the legal entities in your group are likely to form one TBU or, on the contrary, are sufficiently independent from an economic and a social point of view to form separate TBUs.

TBU Tool

Frequently asked questions

In this section we have collected a number of frequently asked questions for you. Check our webpage regularly for new added questions!


This is not possible given that elections are a matter of public order. Any such agreement with the trade unions is therefore not legally valid.


If a Works Council was elected during the previous elections but the company's headcount has dropped below 100 employees (but still remains above 50), the company will have a Works Council and a CPPW.

However, elections for the Works Council do not have to be organised, as the mandates for the Works Council will be exercised by those elected to the CPPW.

YES, but only Level 1 executives.

High level executives are persons in charge of the daily management of the company and who are authorised to represent and commit the employer (Level 1) and also the employees who are immediately subordinate to these persons and who also carry out daily management tasks (e.g. recruiting and dismissing personnel, etc.) (Level 2).

High level executives of LEVEL 1 are not necessarily linked to the company by an employment contract, i.e. they can also be self-employed.

High level executives of LEVEL 2 must have an employment contract with the company.


Strangely enough, nothing prevents the trade unions from filing a complaint against their own list. The trade union that submitted a list of candidates can lodge a complaint against its own list if material errors were made when submitting the list of candidates.

If a trade union mistakenly submitted a candidacy for a category for which there were no mandates to be vacated, then it can correct this material mistake by filing a complaint against the list and can still submit the candidacy in question for the correct mandate to be vacated.


In practice, there are always people who do not have the opportunity to vote, for example because they are ill for a period of time or because they will be staying abroad at the time of voting.

As a solution to this problem, the possibility to vote by letter has been provided for. However, this requires the agreement of the trade unions.

For each list, the maximum number of candidates may not exceed the total number of mandates (effective and replacement mandates) to be divided. Therefore, assuming that 3 lists can be submitted (ACV-CSC, ABVV-FGTB and ACLVB- CGSLB), the maximum number of candidates is as follows:

Number of employees Number of effective mandates for WC and CPPW (+ replacements) Number of candidates CPPW Number of candidates WC Total number of candidates
< 100 4 (+4) 24 - 24
100 4 (+4) 24 24 48
101 < 500 6 (+6) 36 36 72
501 < 1.000 8 (+8) 48 48 96
1.001 < 2.000 10 (+10) 60 60 120
2.001 < 3.000 12 (+12) 72 72 144
3.001 < 4.000 14 (+14) 84 84 168
4.001 < 5.000 16 (+16) 96 96 192
5.001 < 6.000 18 (+18) 108 108 216
6.001 < 8.000 20 (+20) 120 120 240
> 8.000 22 (+22) 132 132 264

If there is any separate representation for managerial personnel ('kaderpersoneel/cadres') (only for Works Councils), then the number of mandates is increased by 1 if the company has less than 100 managers and by 2 mandates if there are more than 100 managers. Separate representation for managerial personnel is only possible if there are at least 15 managers. Since, in this case, there will also be a separate list for managerial personnel, the number of mandates must also be multiplied by 4 lists to arrive at the maximum number of candidates for the Works Council.


Candidates cannot be members of the polling station but can be witnesses on election day.

The following are invalid:

  • ballots other than those handed over to the voter at the time of the voting;
  • ballots on which more than one vote has been cast at the top of a list;
  • ballots on which the voter has cast one vote at the top of a list and one or more votes for one or more candidates from another list or several other lists, or the ballots with votes for candidates from different lists;
  • ballots whose shape or size has been changed or which contain any paper or object inside or of which the voter can be recognised by a sign, deletion or mark.

A ballot that is not filled in with the pencil provided for in the elections may not be declared invalid for this reason alone, except if the voter can be identified, even unintentionally. In the same way, the colour of the ballpoint pen or pencil used is not in itself sufficient reason to decide that a ballot is invalid.


This voter's vote will be valid. The President of the polling station will ensure the cancellation of the ballot sent by post to this voter.

The employer may not change the opening hours initially notified if this change has the effect of restricting the opening hours and has had an impact on the results of the elections.

It was considered that the change of the opening hours ‘from 8.30 am to 5 pm’ to ‘from 3 pm to 5 pm’ is not regular and that it has limited the possibility for the employees to participate in the vote and that this restriction is probably the cause of the low participation rate in the vote.

On the other hand, a change in opening hours from 8 am to 8.40 am was not considered to be an irregular change, as it was not proven that such a change would have had an impact on the results of the elections.

In principle, social elections must be organised on one day.

However, where it is not possible to hold elections on one single day, they may be held on several (even non-consecutive) working days, but this will require the agreement of the Works Council or the CPPW or, in such absence, the trade union delegation.

The President of the polling station must take the necessary measures to ensure that the ballot boxes are sealed at the end of each election day.

As far as the election calendar is concerned:

  • All actions that precede day Y (e.g. day X-60, day X, day X+35) will be determined on the basis of the first election day;
  • All actions that follow day Y (e.g. Y+2, Y+25, Y+45) will be determined on the basis of the last election day.

What’s new for the 2020 elections?

We have listed for you the most important developments for the 2020 social elections compared to the 2016 edition. Find out more by clicking on the topics below.

What’s new for the 2020 elections?


Day X: posting of the notice announcing the date of the elections

On day X, i.e. between 11 and 24 February 2020, depending on the chosen election day, the Works Council and/or the CPPW, or, in their absence, the employer, must provide the employees with the following written information:

Continue reading...

Employers, be aware of the “hidden protection period” kick-off!

The “hidden protection period” is one of the most remarkable features of the social elections process. The hidden protection period is the period during which candidates already benefit from the specific dismissal protection, even though the candidate lists are only being disclosed to the employer 65 days later. Hence, there is a 65 days-gap during which an employer is not aware of an employee’s candidacy for the social elections and related dismissal protection, ...

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X – 60: What are your obligations?

On X – 60, i.e. between 13 and 26 December 2019, depending on the chosen election day, the employer must provide the Works Council and/or the CPPW, or, in their absence, the Trade Union Delegation, with written information that includes the following elements:

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Social elections 2020: Homeworkers can vote from their ‘home office’

More and more employees structurally work from home (with fixed homeworking days). Assuming the social elections date falls on an employee’s regular homeworking day, such an employee no longer needs to go to the company premises to vote. Due to some changes in the 2020 Social Elections Act of 4 April 2019, it is now possible to vote electronically from home.

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Arrange for an exemption from keeping a register of temporary workers

Companies employing more than 100 employees can obtain an exemption from the obligation to keep a register of temporary workers (i.e. an annex to the general personnel register) if, by 30 May 2019 at the latest, they arrange for a unanimous declaration from the Works Council that the company does indeed employ more than 100 employees and this declaration is recorded in the minutes of the works council meeting.

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The 2020 social elections: should we already be doing something now?

In 2020, most probably between 11 and 24 May, all employers employing at least 50 workers (for the Health & Safety Committee) or on average 100 workers (for the Works Council) must organise new social elections to elect the employee representatives sitting on these consultative bodies.

Continue reading...

HR magazine: Question of the month

Dutch version: Mogen uitzendkrachten, die niet meer tewerkgesteld zijn bij een bedrijf op de dag van de sociale verkiezingen, deelnemen aan de stemming? Continue reading...

French version: Les travailleurs intérimaires, peuvent-ils voter le jour des élections sociales, même s'ils ne sont plus occupés par l'entreprise? Continue reading...