Collective employment relations

At the Consultation Committee on Wednesday, 17 November 2021, the federal and the regional governments decided to take additional measures in the fight against the Covid pandemic. One of these measures is the reintroduction of mandatory working remotely. The agreements have now been laid down in the Royal Decree of 19 November 2021. Below, we outline the most important aspects of this reintroduced mandatory remote working.

As of Saturday morning 20 November 2021 (7 am), remote working is again mandatory in the private sector and in public administrations, unless this is impossible due to the nature of the job or the continuity of the business, activities or services. This obligation applies to all persons employed, regardless of the nature of the employment relationship (employees, self-employed, etc.).

Working remotely takes place in accordance with CBA no. 85 (structural homeworking). If nothing is provided in that context at organisational level, the rules of CBA no. 149 apply (remote work due to the coronary crisis). More information can be found in one of our previous newsflashes.

Certificate requirement

Persons who cannot work remotely must be in possession of a certificate or other piece of evidence from their employer or client which confirms that their presence on the work floor is necessary.

Monthly registration obligation

Companies must also register each month via the NSSO’s portal per branch unit:

  • total number of persons employed
  • total number of persons with a function that does not allow to work remotely

The first declaration must be made by 30 November 2021 for the period 22 November to 31 December 2021. Subsequent declarations must be made on the sixth calendar day of each month.

A new monthly declaration only needs to be made if the situation has changed compared to the previous month.

SMEs with less than five employees and a number of sectors (health care, subsidized education, etc.) are exempted from this registration obligation.

Return times and attendance rate at the workplace

For remotely workable positions, one return day per person per week can be provided until 12 December 2021. From 13 December 2021, this is increased to two days per week. The following conditions apply to these return moments:

  • The return cannot be imposed on a mandatory basis and takes place by mutual agreement with the employee;
  • The purpose of the return days is to promote psychosocial well-being and team spirit;
  • Workers who return must be instructed on safety measures in the workplace;
  • Workers who are ill, showing symptoms or in quarantine must not return;
  • Measures must be taken to avoid carpooling and public transport movements at peak times.

Up to and including 12 December 2021, a maximum of 20% of persons with a function that allows remote working can be present at any one time. From 13 December 2021, this is increased to a maximum of 40%.

For SMEs where less than ten employees are employed, a maximum of five employees of those for whom working remotely is mandatory may be present in the establishment unit at the same time.

Action point

As an organisation, you are well advised to strictly observe this mandatory remote work and the formalities that come with it once again. The social inspection services monitor compliance and will take action in the event of violations in the form of criminal or administrative fines. At the top of your to-do list should definitely be the mandatory monthly registration, which must be done the first time no later than by 30 November 2021.