What benefit does the Programme Act provide for the e-commerce activities of your company?
In this e-zine, you will find an overview of the most important changes that might have an impact on the e-commerce activities of your company. In this way, the legislator aims to make Belgium more attractive for e-commerce and to create additional employment.
1. Definitive facilitation of working-time arrangements with night shifts
In Belgium, night work (i.e. work performed between 20:00 and 06:00) is in principle prohibited. As of 1 February 2017, the legislator formulated an exception to this prohibition for all logistic and ancillary services related to electronic commerce by virtue of the Act on Workable and Agile Work. In other words, night work became possible for e-commerce activities, regardless of the joint labor committee to which the company belongs.
The procedure for introducing night work depends on the working schedule envisaged by the employer.
For the introduction of night work, the employer must in principle follow the normal procedure for modifying the work rules (WR) (see further point 2). However, employers wishing to introduce a “working-time arrangement with night shifts” (i.e. night work where workers are employed between 00:00 and 05:00) must follow a special procedure. Such arrangement can only be introduced provided that a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is concluded with all the trade unions represented in the trade union delegation (TUD) (if a TUD has been established) or after modifying the WR (if no TUD has been established).
For e-commerce activities in particular, the procedure will now be eased. From now on, a working-time arrangement with night shifts can be introduced in companies with a TUD by concluding a “regular” CBA (i.e. a CBA where the signature of 1 representative trade union is sufficient).
This measure makes it easier for companies with a TUD to introduce e-commerce activities between 00:00 and 05:00. Whereas employers previously needed an agreement with all trade unions represented in this TUD, now an agreement with 1 trade union is sufficient.
2. Temporary facilitation of night work
The procedure to introduce night work for companies with e-commerce activities will be eased temporarily – i.e. from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2019. As from 2020, a definitive arrangement will apply instead.
The eased procedure can be represented schematically as follows:
Employers who have made use of the additional possibility to introduce night work during 2018 – 2019 will have to conclude a CBA as from 2020 to perpetuate the arrangement introduced during 2018 – 2019 as from 2020.
This measure provides more temporary possibilities to introduce night work for e-commerce activities.
3. Sunday working for e-commerce
The Programme Act provides a (temporary) exemption from the prohibition on Sunday working for e-commerce activities. This possibility was not previously available.
The employer can introduce Sunday working for e-commerce activities through one of the following means:
_Modifying the WR; or,
_Concluding a CBA.
Sunday working introduced through this facilitation will expire on 31 December 2019 at the latest. Employers who want to maintain the working-time arrangement with Sunday working as from 1 January 2020 will have to perpetuate this arrangement by means of concluding a CBA. Currently, the Programme Act provides no possibility to introduce Sunday working for e-commerce activities for the first time as from 2020.
This measure will enable the introduction of Sunday working for e-commerce activities as long as this introduction takes place during 2018 – 2019.