In2023, Looking ahead, we explore the most important trends and developments related to labour and employment law in Belgium.
Starting ahead in 2023: new and upcoming employment rules in Belgium
Below we briefly discuss the most important new or upcoming changes to employment law in Belgium.
Programme Act of 26 December 2022
Belgium entered the new year with the entry into force of most of the provisions of the massive Programme Act of 26 December 2022 (published on 30 December). Amongst others, this act contains the following:
- Attendance registration for cleaning sector: a new obligation to register workers at the workplace in order to combat social fraud (a similar obligation already exists in the construction sector).
- The Limitation period for social (NSSO) fraud by the employer is extended from 7 to 10 years.
- It will become easier for the National Employment Office (NEO) to reclaim wrongfully paid benefits from the employer if he wrongfully invoked temporary unemployment for suspension of employment contract.
- The abolishment of the reimbursement of the activation compensation in case of collective dismissal: previously, the employer could recover from the NEO the difference between the activation compensation and the severance pay effectively due (if the activation compensation exceeds the severance pay). This is no longer possible.
- A temporary reduction of social security contributions for employers and a possibility to spread the payment social security contributions over a longer period.
- A new contribution for employers if they frequently use successive day contracts for temporary agency work.
- The allowed use of Flexi-jobs is extended to certain sectors (sport, cinema, entertainment business, health facilities and services and public care).
- A new work resumption premium for employers (also in the public sector) who hire disabled employees in the context of progressive work resumption.
- A new contribution of 1,800 EUR to a Back-to-Work Fund if an employer terminates an employment contract due to medical force majeure. However, the employer will no longer be obliged to offer outplacement to the employee.
- A temporary increase in employer contributions for the use of unemployment with a supplement of the employer (formerly known as "bridge pension").
- Increase of the special activation contribution due when employers fully or partially exempt employees from performance with pay during a notice period.
- It will become more difficult to tax income according to the beneficial system of author rights, limiting the scope to authors in the artistic sector or to authors who transfer their licensing rights for a publication of their work (disclosure to the public).
New whistleblower rules
The EU Whistleblower Directive was transposed by the Belgian Act of 28 November 2022 which obliges Belgian employers to install an internal whistleblowing procedure. For the details regarding this Act, please consult our guide. Employers of 250 or more workers will need to install an internal whistleblower reporting system by 15 February 2023. Employers of 50 to 249 workers have until 17 December 2023.
Upcoming adaptation of the rules on remote work (telework)
The National Social partners are currently negotiating an adaptation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement no. 85 on structural telework in the National Labour Council. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, telework become more used and there was feeling that the existing rules were no longer appropriate for a more flexible use of telework. However, nobody is expecting major changes to the existing provisions.
Adapting your employment contract, internal work rules and policies to recent legislation
The last months of 2022 were packed with new employment law legislation, including:
- The Labour Deal, please see our web series
- The Work Life Balance Act
- The Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Act
- The adaptation of the reintegration procedure for long-term ill persons and new rules for medical force majeure
Many of the provisions of the recent laws only entered into force on 1 January 2023 or will enter into force during the coming months. Employers should adapt their employment contracts, internal work rules, policies and procedures to these new rules.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.