Social elections 2020 - Extended possibility of electronic voting

13 Jul 2020

Companies that did not decide to organise electronic voting in February 2020 will be given a second chance by the legislator to do so. This presupposes an agreement with all trade unions that have put forward candidates. This is also possible if you do not have any consultative bodies as of today. Such an agreement can be concluded at the earliest from day X+36 up to and including the new day X+54, in the period from the end of September up to the end of October 2020, depending on your new election date.

As the general recommendation remains to organise telework for employees whose jobs allow it – and many companies have opted to postpone returning to work in view of the COVID-19 pandemic – the legislator has provided an additional option for the organisation of the social elections.

In principle, only companies with a works council, CPBW or trade union could decide to organise electronic voting. Such a decision had to be made no later than day X in February 2020.

Several companies now wish to organise electronic voting for reasons of health and safety. After all, electronic voting can offer a solution to any problems that arise in the organisation of physical polling stations.

This possibility is now provided, with the following conditions:

  • Timing of the agreement? This agreement can only be concluded during the period X+36 (first day of the recommencement of the social election procedure, (subject to confirmation in a Royal Decree), between 23 September and 6 October 2020) to X+56 (in principle, between 13 and 26 October 2020)
  • With whom? The agreement must be concluded with all the representative organisations that have put forward candidates for the category or categories of employees concerned. This means that if your company does not have any consultative bodies as of today, you can still also conclude such an agreement.
  • Content of the agreement? The agreement must include confirmation of the category or categories for which electronic voting will be used. In addition, the agreement should also cover all other substantial aspects of electronic voting, in particular a description of the usual workplace (if applicable), the special conditions to guarantee the secrecy of the vote, the arrangements for ensuring the proper functioning of the polling station and the means of identifying voters.
  • Consequences? The other conditions related to electronic voting (system safeguards, training, etc.) remain the same and will therefore have to be respected.
  • Publication? The decision to rectify the message of day X will have to be posted immediately in the usual way: either physical posting or, if all employees have access to it during normal working hours, an electronic posting via the Internet, Sharepoint, etc, is also possible. The form will also have to be sent to the FPS WASO via the web application (or, if not, sent by post to the various representative organisations).
  • Vote by letter? The timing has been set so that your company also has until X+56 to decide to organise a vote by letter for the categories of employees who meet the conditions. One of the possibilities to organise the vote by letter concerns the situation of “significant geographical spread of personnel”. It seems plausible to us that companies that provide for the continuation of telework do indeed have the option of organising a vote by letter.
  • In any case, it will still take some time before the Royal Decree is published confirming the new election dates, but the social partners in the National Labour Council agreed on 30 June 2020 to allow the social elections to take place during the period from 16 to 29 November 2020. The Royal Decree confirming this is expected by the beginning of August at the latest.

Action point

If you wish to organise electronic voting and/or voting by letter within your company, please conclude an agreement with the representative organisations that have put forward candidates. The agreement on electronic voting can only be concluded in the period X+36 to X+56 (see our website for your updated election calendar ). You can also conclude this agreement if your company does not have any consultative bodies as of today.