Interprofessional Agreement 2011-2012: a decisive step towards harmonizing the status of blue- and white-collar employees

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Date:
19 Jan 2011

On 18 January 2011, the social partners agreed a draft Interprofessional Agreement ("I.P.A.") for the years 2011-2012. This draft still needs to be submitted to several institutions of the group of social partners, after which the government will take the necessary legal action in order to put the measures in place.

On 18 January 2011, the social partners agreed a draft Interprofessional Agreement ("I.P.A.") for the years 2011-2012. This draft still needs to be submitted to several institutions of the group of social partners, after which the government will take the necessary legal action in order to put the measures in place.

Besides the usual subjects (linking social payments to welfare, salary norms, extending the measures relating to early retirement, etc.), the draft I.P.A. contains an important chapter relating to harmonizing the status of blue- and white-collar employees.

As of 2012, the notice period for white-collar employees whose annual gross salary exceeds 30,535 EUR (amount for 2011), would be one month per year of commenced seniority, with a minimum of three months (the trial period is not taken into consideration). This rule would thus replace the Claeys formula as a  reference for these employees. Clauses providing for a different notice period could still be agreed on, at the earliest upon entry into service, for those white-collar employees earning more than 61,071 EUR gross per year (amount for 2011). Note however, that this new regime would in any case only apply for new employment contracts, which means that for all existing employment contracts, the current principle on the basis of which the notice period is determined, would continue to apply. The Claeys formula will thus remain relevant for the years to come.

Furthermore, according to the draft I.P.A. every two years Collective Bargaining Agreements would be agreed upon within the National Labour Council in three steps (between 2012 and 2017), in order to determine "conversion coefficients", which would progressively increase the notice periods for blue-collar workers and progressively reduce the notice periods for "higher" white-collar employees.

A final regime would then be worked out by the end of 2012, based on the following principles: the protection against dismissal (after one year of seniority) will be based on three elements, namely a notice period which needs to be worked, a part notice period without working and a part borne by the National Employment Office. Article 63 of the law of 3 July 1978 (abusive dismissal of blue-collar employees) will in its turn be "updated". This "definitive regime" will not touch upon the acquired rights for the applicable employment contracts at the moment of entry into force of this regime.

Harmonizing the status of blue- and white-collar employees also concerns other matters (such as annual holiday, guaranteed wages, waiting day, temporary unemployment, merger of current joint committees, monthly salary payment, etc.).

We will provide you shortly with a more detailed newsletter on the new measures as proposed in the draft I.P.A.