Restructuring - New recommendations from the National Labour Council

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Date:
08 Jan 2020

On 17 December, the National Labour Council (NLC) issued an opinion (no. 2149 - French / Dutch ) and a recommendation (no. 28 - French / Dutch ) implementing the agreement of 5 July 2019 concluded by the Group of 10 on the issue of restructuring. It addresses two recommendations to sectors and companies.

The first recommendation concerns the implementation of good-quality, effective information consultation. To do this, the employer and the employee representatives should set an indicative timetable, as well as its modalities. They should also take measures to preserve employment, favour the return to employment and consolidate the recovery of the company’s activity in a sustainable way. These arrangements should cover in particular:

  • the planning and agendas of meetings,
  • setting the methods for the timely conveying of questions and answers (in writing, time of conveying, etc.),
  • the confidential nature of certain information communicated,
  • the request to involve third parties,
  • how to make proposals and alternatives objective,
  • a reasoned reply to any opinion issued.

In addition, the NLC recommends that employee representatives should be informed of the potential impact of restructuring on agency (interim) workers, temporary employees and employees put at the disposal of the company.

The second recommendation concerns the information to be communicated to co-contractors (in particular subcontractors and service providers). Companies should promptly identify its co-contractors, communicate to them its intention to restructure and provide them with contact details of contact persons.

Our opinion

We consider that adaptations to the so-called procedure “Renault” are necessary. The initiative to bring more quality and efficiency to the information and consultation procedure will necessarily lead to an improvement of the procedure. However, it must be noted that the second recommendation is difficult to achieve and seems to go beyond the requirements of the current legislation. Asking companies intending to restructure to communicate the contact details of contact persons of co-contractors seems premature. Indeed, the significant and negative impact on co-contractors is difficult to measure at this stage of the procedure. There is a risk of false alarms involving reactions, which, in the end, may prove counterproductive.