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What does the government agreement mean for employment law?

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The government agreement contains a number of elements that can affect employment law and HR management. Some objectives or measures are known already, others are new. Overall, the importance of social consultation is very often emphasized. 

Below, we made a summary, based on 10 themes.

  1. Employment rate of 80% by 2030
    • Promotion of labour market mobility between regions on the one hand, and to sectors where shortages occur on the other hand, through training and retraining. 
    • Reform of article 39ter of the Employment Contracts Act (employability measures for dismissed employees). 
    • Particular attention to the activity and employment rates of vulnerable groups (persons with living wage, long-term ill, and disabled people) and older workers through measures on end-of-career schemes.  This should be achieved, among other options, through part-time retirement, smooth end-of-career jobs, training and reorientation throughout the career, and by promoting the transfer of knowhow between generations of employees. 
  2. Lifelong learning/continuous updating of knowledge and skills
    • Commitment to employee education and training including, among others, the right to an “individual training account”: at interprofessional level, the aim is to ensure that each full-time employee is entitled to an average of five training days a year. Companies with less than 20 employees can be exempted. 
    • Encourage companies/employees to use longer periods of temporary unemployment for training purposes. 
  3. Strengthen reintegration of the long-term ill workers at the workplace and the labor market
    • Support for employers and employees to start up the reintegration programs (faster) and to complete the reintegration program successfully. So-called disability managers, can be engaged for this purpose. 
    • Responsabilization of all actors involved, i.e. employers, employees and doctors (general practitioner, occupational practitioner, consulting practitioner) in terms of both prevention and reintegration.
  4. Particular attention to the fight for diversity and against all forms of discrimination, including the evaluation and possible adaptation of anti-discrimination legislation 
    • Social inspection must be able to carry out discrimination tests based on either a substantiated complaint, data mining or an objective indication. The written and prior approval of the labor auditor or the public prosecutor is kept. 
    • Launch a debate between the social partners on the remuneration package, based on a study by the Central Economic Council on the correlation between salary and seniority
  5. Better work-life balance
    • Home- and teleworking, but also other forms of flexibility beneficial for the employee, play an important role, with attention to autonomy and self-management.
    • Different organization of working time:
      1. Development of an interprofessional framework that allows more flexibility, while ensuring the protection of employees.
      2. Establish conditions within there can be introduced deviations from the standard working hours and working time for companies with trade union delegation.
      3. For e-commerce: examine whether and to what extent a change in the regulations governing evening and night work could be a solution for the limited presence of e-commerce in Belgium.
    • Simplification, harmonization and optimization of the various leave schemes, with specific attention to the motives of care and the combination of work and family. Birth leave will be gradually extended from 10 to 20 days and will be available to all types of workers (e.g. temporary workers).
  6. Continuing the battle against stress and burn-out, based on, among other things, experience gained in the recent (pilot) projects by the National Labor Council
    • Implementation of the ‘European social partners framework agreement on digitalisation’ of 2020, which also adresses the possibility of deconnecting.
  7. Battle against false self-employment and false employment
    • Evaluation and, if necessary, adaptation of the law on the nature of employment relationships. 
    • Platform economy: attention to good working conditions and better social protection
  8. Green labor mobility
    • All new company cars must be greenhouse gas-free by 2026.
    • Framework in which employers can grant a mobility budget to employees who are not entitled to a company car. In this way, sustainable mobility alternatives (public transport, bicycles, climate-neutral cars, etc.) as well as living close to work are stimulated.
  9. (Supplementary) pensions
    • To a minimum pension towards EUR 1500 net for a full career.
    • Abolition of the correction factor in the system of the self-employed.
    • Introduction of the pension bonus.
    • Finishing the harmonization between blue- and white-collar workers and further generalization of the second pension pillar.
    • becomes a reference application that informs and sensitizes citizens about their personal pension rights. 
  10. New paid public holiday: regions can decide to add a regional holiday as the 11th paid public holiday

Note that the COVID-19 pandemic has been left out of this overview: the government states that its socio-economic impact is being monitored and will think about support measures for employees and employers. The only concrete measure is that the government allows for a specific quarantine certificate for parents who have to take care of their children at home (e.g. quarantine in school), so that they can apply for temporary unemployment benefits based on this certificate. This has already been approved by the Committee on Social Affairs in the Chamber, but not yet by the plenary meeting.