On 6 April 2012, the Omnibus Act of 29 March 2012, which introduces a number of important changes to employment law, was published in the Belgian State Gazette.
The most important changes can be summarised as follows:
- Effective 1 April 2012, the cost of early retirement (stelsel van werkloosheid met bedrijfstoeslag/régime de chômage avec complément d'entreprise), including existing schemes, is significantly higher for employers;
- Effective 16 April 2012, heightened measures to combat social security fraud will apply, e.g. (i) extension from the construction sector to other sectors of the existing jointly liability of contractors and subcontractors for unpaid remuneration, social security contributions and taxes and related invoice withholding obligations (a royal decree will specify the relevant sectors and provide more detailed measures) and (ii) the introduction of a rebuttable presumption of full-time employment in the event of non-compliance with the obligations and formalities for part-time work, etc.;
- Effective 1 July 2012, companies with more than 20 employees will in principle be obliged to draft an annual plan detailing employment-related measures for older employees, which must be submitted to the works council for an opinion or, in the absence thereof, the health and safety committee or, in the absence thereof, the trade union delegation or, in the absence thereof, the employees themselves.
It should be noted that several days earlier, on 30 March 2012, another Act of 29 March 2012 was published in the Belgian State Gazette and introduced inter alia the following employment-related changes:
- Effective 9 April 2012, there are new rules on the acquisition of holidays at the start of an employee's career: for each three-month period worked during the first calendar year of employment, the employee can take up one week off with pay as from the last week of each quarter. Further details will be specified in a royal decree;
- An age pyramid will apply to collective dismissals: the impact of a collective dismissal must be proportionally allocated amongst the various age categories of employees. The date of entry into force will be determined by royal decree.