- 28 May 2015
During the plenary session of Thursday 21 May 2015, the Federal Parliament adopted the draft bill that aims to regulate and simplify the organisation of the 2016 social elections. The new Act largely follows the opinion that the National Labour Council had delivered earlier.
Here is a brief summary of the key elements of the new Act which was posted yesterday on the website of the Parliament and which will be published one of the coming days in the Belgian Official Gazette.
- Single Act. For the two previous social elections, on the one hand a general elections Act and on the other hand a specific Act concerning the possible disputes were promulgated. The newly adopted Act provides for the abrogation of the latter Act and introduces the provisions of this abrogated Act into the general elections Act, so that from now on only a single Act regulates the elections. Furthermore, two Royal Decrees concerning on the one hand the calculation of the number of temporary workers and on the other hand the ballot papers in so-called "sheltered workplaces" were also abrogated and likewise integrated into the unifying new Act.
- Employment threshold. The threshold of workers needed for the setting-up of a Works Council remains 100 (or by exception 50 if since the last social elections the number of employees dropped below 100 employees, but still at least 50 in 2015). For the Committee on Prevention and Protection at Work, the threshold remains 50 employees.
- Incompatibilities. The new Act introduces a new incompatibility as of the next social elections: as from the coming elections, a person of trust may not be on the candidate lists or have a seat as an employer's representative in the Works Council or in the Committee on Prevention and Protection at Work. In this way, the person of trust is placed on an equal footing as the prevention advisor who equally cannot have a seat as an employee or employer representative in these bodies.
- Reference period. The Act does not modify the reference period for the calculation of the average workforce. For the 2016 elections companies must take the calendar year 2015 into account for the workers with an employment contract or an apprenticeship contract, and the fourth quarter of 2015 for the temporary workers.The Act, however, provides for the first time that for a company subject to a transfer under judicial supervision during 2015, the reference period corresponds with the period from the transfer until 31 December 2015. The legislator has therefore decided to apply the same reference period as in the case of a transfer of undertaking during 2015.
- Elections date (day Y). The social elections have to be organised between 9 and 22 May 2016.
- Standard documents. The new Act provides for several standard documents that are mandatory for the trade unions and the companies. The possibility to upload the documents via the web application of the Federal Public Service Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue has been legally maintained.
- Electronic submission of candidature lists. The representative trade unions will have the possibility to avoid physically submitting the candidate lists or sending them by post, and rather send them electronically via the web application of the Federal Public Service Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue. The Act provides that once a trade union has chosen a certain way of submission, this procedure must also be followed for any subsequent adjustments (deletion of a name, replacement of a candidate, etc.).
- Adjustment elections procedure. The new Act clarifies some legal provisions that had led during the previous social elections to interpretation issues and adjusts the elections procedure on specific points, such as for example the abolishment of the obligation to send various documents to the Social Laws Inspection Service and the possibility to replace the candidates that have withdrawn their candidacy in time.