- 16 Apr 2013
The Labour Court of Antwerp asked the Court about the compatibility of the Flemish language legislation in the context of employment relations with the law of the European Union.
The question concerned was if a linguistic constraint interferes disproportionately with the free movement of workers within the European Union.
The Court considers that the regulation of a regional entity of a member state which imposes every employer having a place of business on the territory of that entity to draft employment agreements with a cross-border nature exclusively in the official language of the regional entity, failing which the contracts are to be declared null and void by the national courts of their own motion, is likely to affect the free movement of workers.
Such a penalty of nullity is provided in the regional regulation of Flanders and Wallonia (not in Brussels).
According to the Court, a regulation which allows an authentic version in another language known to all parties, besides the version in the regional language, would be less "intrusive" to the freedom of movement of workers and would also allow to achieve the goal of the regional regulations concerned.
The Court thereby follows the position defended by our firm in this case before the Court.
> Action point
The regional legislators of Flanders and Wallonia will have to review their decrees concerning the use of languages in employment relations. Pending such modification, the prudent course of action for employers is to continue to draft the documents in the regionally required language, but at the same time also sign the document in the desired language understood by both parties.