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26.07.18 Parliament approves some HR measures before summer break

Employment
July 26

Just before the summer break, Parliament has approved a number of measures which, although they are very different, should lead to more flexibility in the labour market.

Below we give a brief overview of the new measures.

1. Training clause and “bottleneck” profession

What?

A training clause is a clause whereby an employee who follows training at the expense of the employer undertakes to pay a part of the training costs if s/he leaves the company before the end of the agreed period. Such a clause reduces the risk that the employee leaves the company after the training and ensures that the training investment is not lost.

The clause is linked to strict conditions and cannot be concluded if an employee earns less than 34,180 EUR gross on an annual basis.

In practice, this leads to the fact that no training clause is possible for many (young) employees, although (often technical) training is most necessary for that category of employees. This is certainly the case for bottleneck professions or vacancies that are hard to fill.

The new rule states that the remuneration condition no longer exists for bottleneck professions, as determined by the regional employment services. Notwithstanding these lists, a separate list can be drawn up by Royal Decree with other bottleneck professions that do apply with regard to the training clause.

Action

For functions or professions that appear on the lists of VDAB, FOREM or Actiris (e.g. technical staff, IT specialist, lorry driver, call center employee, etc.) you can offer a training to an employee and agree a training clause, irrespective of whether the annual gross pay is lower than 34,180 EUR.

2. Working on Sunday at the coast and in tourist centers

At the coast and in tourist centers, employees are allowed to work on Sundays in retail shops and hair salons within certain limits. The law now clarifies that employment for each individual employee is limited to 39 Sundays per calendar year.

3. Half a day of parental leave

What?

Employees can take parental leave for 1/10 of the normal number of working hours. This means that employees can, for example, take half a day on Wednesday afternoon or (e.g. for co-parents) an entire day every two weeks. Such flexibility did not exist before: parental leave could only be taken full-time, part-time or 1/5.

The new rule meets the demand for a better work-life balance, a smaller financial impact of parental leave on the family budget and the chance that more men take parental leave.

The law stipulates that the Royal Decree determining the operating conditions can stipulate as a condition that the employer should agree with the regulation.

Action

You will have to decide whether your company will allow 1/10 parental leave and, if so, examine how you organize this best, without negatively affecting the organization of work.

4. Flexible inclusion of thematic leave

What?

It will be possible to freely schedule thematic leave (such as parental leave, palliative leave...) for the duration of the thematic leave: parents will be able to take one week of parental leave and no leave the following week. The decrease of full-time employment during a period of one month or a multiple thereof must correspond to a decrease of, on average, 1/2, 1/5 or 1/10 (for parental leave: see above).

Thematic leave can be taken in short blocks of, for example, a week (full-time parental leave and full-time leave for medical assistance) or a month (e.g. half-time parenting leave). In the past, these were longer fixed blocks, such as a month or two months.

The new rule is intended to promote a better work-life balance and to meet the reality of new family models (e.g. for co-parents).

Important to note is that the employer must agree.

Action

You will have to decide whether your company will allow flexible thematic leave and, if so, examine how you organize this best, without negatively affecting the work organization.

5. Extensive adoption leave

Adoption leave for a minor child is brought to six weeks per adoption parent in 2017. After that, the duration increases, so that both parents together will have a right to 17 weeks of adoption leave by 2027. The same applies to foster parents. The parents can each take 6 weeks of leave and divide the remaining 5 weeks.

 Employment, Pensions & Benefits