New Year, New Labour Deal for Belgium

The Belgian government has approved the draft law of a new Labour Deal that brings with it important changes to employment laws and practices, with some taking effect from 1 January 2023.

The Belgian government has recently approved a new Labour Deal, to encourage more flexible working and to boost the employment rate. Some of the key changes include the right to disconnect and entitlements during an employee’s notice period.

Employers with at least 20 employees will have to respect an employee’s right to disconnect. Employees will therefore not need to respond to work emails outside of their working hours (or remain contactable). Unless a national collective bargaining agreement is concluded, employers will need to document the employees’ right to disconnect in a collective bargaining agreement before 1 January 2023.

Employees that are dismissed with a notice period of over 30 weeks will have enhanced rights from 1 January 2023. They will be entitled to spend the last third of their notice period carrying out activities that improve their employability, such as attending training courses and additional outplacement, while continuing to be paid as usual. Unless they are paid an indemnity in lieu of notice, they will also have the right to request that their employer transitions them to another role with another company.

Finally, in an area of the law not yet published, full-time employees can make a request to perform their role in 4 days and have a 3-day weekend (by working either 9.5- or 10-hour days). Employers can refuse the request but must provide objective reasons for the refusal within one month. To be able to use this model, employers’ internal work rules or a collective bargaining agreement will need to set out the applicable framework. These rules are not yet in force but will become effective 10 days after the draft Labour Deal is published.

This is a summary of some of the key changes under the Labour Deal. Employers should familiarise themselves with the new rules and review and update as necessary any employment documentation for compliance. If you have any questions or need any support with this, please get in touch.

Please get in touch with our MDR ONE team if we can help with providing any further details on the above or providing you with employment support for your business.

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