Overview of the latest employment news
Biometric data: key takeaways from the new recommendations of the Data Protection Authority
The Belgian Data Protection Authority (DPA) has recently issued a new recommendation about the processing of biometric data (fingerprint, face ID, iris, gait recognition, etc.). The DPA confirms that its previous recommendation on the topic is not applicable anymore since the entry into force of the GDPR. It leaves a period of 1 year both to the processors and the Belgian legislature to implement its new recommendations in order to ensure compliance with the European legal framework.
Back to normal - Key points when introducing/increasing telework after COVID-19
During the COVID-19 pandemic, employees were required to work from home in large numbers. Even companies that did not necessarily intend to introduce telework, have been able to experience its effects.
According to the Ministerial Decree of 23 June 2021, it is however no longer required but only recommended to telework as of 27 June 2021.
Back to normal - Can employers ban non-vaccinated workers from the workplace?
Even though coronavirus vaccination is not mandatory in Belgium (yet), once everyone had their chance to get vaccinated, the question could rise whether an employer can ban employees from the workplace if they refuse to get vaccinated.
Back to normal - How to manage holiday requests? Make sure to plan ahead!
With Corona restrictions progressively lifted, many employees start planning their summer leave. To ensure business continuity during and after summer leave, make sure to plan your employees' holidays and establish clear and transparent guidelines to secure safe return to work.
Mandatory registration for whom telework is impossible
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, mandatory telework has been a key measure in tackling the pandemic. The Ministerial Decree of 28 October 2020 (MD) only allows staff members (“personeelslid”/”membre du personnel”, defined as any person working in or for a company, association or service) to work at company premises if the nature of their function or the continuity of activities make teleworking impossible.
New Collective Bargaining Agreement requires companies to establish a COVID-telework framework
On 26 January 2021, the National Works Council concluded collective bargaining agreement no. 149 (hereafter CBA no. 149), which imposes obligations for compulsory or recommended teleworking in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, in the absence of any other arrangement within the company.
According to CBA no. 149, employers have an obligation to (i) inform and (ii) produce written agreements on certain aspects of mandatory telework. This means that companies that do not have any arrangements on telework need to take good note of these new obligations and act accordingly.
Upcoming amendments to insolvency proceedings and safeguarding of employee rights
At the end of October 2020, a draft bill was filed in anticipation of a wave of bankruptcies consequent to the COVID-19 crisis, and in response to the Plessers-case judgment by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
Temporary unemployment after 31 August 2020: Summer preparation for employers
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in Belgium, authorities accepted a simplified procedure for temporary unemployment (Corona TU), based on a flexible application of the force majeure notion for all companies and industries. If companies want to apply the Corona TU, they can decide and implement the system on the spot.
Corona unemployment suspends notice period
On 11 June 2020, the House of Representatives passed a bill suspending the notice period of dismissed employees during periods of temporary unemployment due to COVID-19 based force majeure ("Corona unemployment").
Following the Council of State’s critical advice, the originally foreseen retroactive effect has been removed from the text.
Force majeure temporary unemployment formalities abolished
In the past few days, the Federal government held confidential discussions with all relevant stakeholders to agree on measures to reduce the administrative burden when applying for Temporary Unemployment given the current circumstances.
These discussions have resulted in a commonly agreed approach by both the VBO/FEB and the Union of Payroll Agencies (UPA).
This approach was confirmed by the National Employment Office (NEO) and made public on 20 March 2020.As a result, temporary unemployment due to the corona crisis falls under the force majeure temporary unemployment scheme for all applications from 13 March for as long as this exceptional situation persists.
Collective dismissal 2019: Pressure on employment continues
The Federal Public Service for Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue publishes statistics for each quarter regarding collective dismissals in Belgium. On the week of 6 January 2020, the FPS published the full numbers for 2019. This newsflash highlights the most striking data.
Teleworking: popular but in need of clarification
Teleworking is an increasingly popular option for employees; however, one that also brings up several questions. What are the consequences, for both employer and employee? Can every employee telework on the job? In general, what is the legal framework?
In order to provide guidance and clarity regarding the telework and occasional telework rules, the Employment, pensions and benefits team is also glad to invite participants for its next seminar series dedicated to this topic.
Retailer given administrative (GDPR) fine for requiring electronic ID for loyalty card provision
The Data Protection Authority (DPA) recently imposed an administrative fine of EUR 10,000 on a retailer who, for the sole purpose of producing a loyalty card, requires the reading of customers’ electronic identity card (eID). The electronic identity card contains a large amount of information regarding its holder. The use of this information, without the customer’s valid consent, is considered disproportionate to the service offered in return.
Time measurement system is mandatory says CJEU - What is the impact for Belgium?
In its 14 May 2019 judgment (C-55/18), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that “in order to ensure the effectiveness of the rights provided for in Directive 2003/88 and of the fundamental right enshrined in Article 31(2) of the Charter, a Member State must require employers to set up an objective, reliable and accessible system enabling the duration of time worked each day by each worker to be measured.”
Fifteen new NWC-CBAs and 2019-2020 wage norm have been legislated
On 23 April 2019, the National Works Council (NWC) published fifteen new CBAs in execution of the Inter industrial Agreement 2019-2020.
Furthermore, the Government also legislated the wage norm for the 2019-2020 period at 1.1%, in accordance with the social partners’ agreement.
Social elections 2020: Did you start counting numbers?
On 13 March 2019, the Committee on Social Affairs approved the draft bill on social elections.
The draft, which will hopefully be adopted and published in the near future, provides some important changes for companies’ practices.
The mobility budget has (finally) entered into force!
On 28 February 2019, after a long legislative process, the Belgian federal parliament had finally adopted the ‘Mobility Budget’ for a 1 March 2019 entry into force.
On 29 March 2019, the Law of 17 March 2019 on the introduction of the mobility budget has been published in the Belgian Official Journal, which means that in principle, the mobility budget is effectively available for companies to introduce.
Subcontracting personal data processing: does GDPR require an agreement?
Since GDPR’s entry into force, many companies have asked their business partners (clients, suppliers, subcontractors) to enter into a data processing agreement with respect to personal data.
GDPR requires every controller (the employer is almost always a controller) to conclude a specific data processing agreement with all of its processors (i.e. entities that process personal data on behalf and under instructions of the controller).
While this obligation does exist under GDPR, it does not imply that such an agreement must necessarily be concluded with all business partners to whom personal data are transmitted.
2019 SIOD-Action Plan on social fraud prevention: Flash social audits and sector-specific audits
The fight against social fraud and social dumping remains a priority for the federal government in 2019. The SIOD (Social Intelligence and Investigation Service) has published its Action Plan on ‘social fraud prevention’ for 2019.
The Action Plan was drawn up in consultation with the social inspectorates, labour auditors, the police, the social partners and the government. It comprises 67 concrete actions at national and international level that are collectively intended to ensure a strengthened and more coordinated approach to social fraud and social dumping.
In 2018, the focus was on major social dumping cases in the construction and transport sectors, the problem of social fraud and crime in Belgium’s major cities, as well as benefit fraud. The proceeds of the efforts made in 2018 are estimated at EUR 275 million.
Wage norm 2019-2020: trade unions withdraw from the negotiations - What now?
A national strike organised by all trade unions shall take place in Belgium tomorrow, 13 February 2019. Trade unions withdrew from inter-professional negotiations where the social partners aimed to reach an agreement on a salary increase for the next two years. The trade unions disagree with the maximum salary margin of 0.8% determined by the Central Economic Council (CEC).
Collective dismissal 2018: the numbers
Each quarter, the Federal Public Service Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue publishes statistics regarding collective dismissals in Belgium. They recently announced the numbers for 2018. In this newsflash, we highlight the most striking data and already look ahead to 2019.
Profit premium plan: what will 2019 bring?
The profit premium plan was introduced by the Program law of 25 December 2017. This measure enables a company to distribute a portion of its profits (maximum 30% of the total gross payroll cost for the last closed accounting year) to its employees, doing so within a favourable tax set-up.
The profit premium amount is either:
- An identical amount for all employees, or an identical percentage of their salary (“the identical profit premium”); or
- A different amount for all employees, determined according to a distribution index based on objective criteria (“the categorised profit premium”).
The law of 14 December 2018, which contains various provisions on employment, clarifies some aspects of the profit premium plan applicable since 1 January 2019.
Risk of increased dismissal costs as of 2019?
Dismissal package: two-thirds notice and one-third employability measures
The Act of 26 December 2013, which removed the differences between blue-collar and white-collar workers regarding notice periods and the so-called “waiting day” (carenzdag / jour de carence), provided an obligation to increase the employability of dismissed employees with a notice period or indemnity, in lieu of notice of at least 30 weeks.