In Belgium, worker representation occurs at the level of the business through the trade union delegation, the works council, and the committee for prevention and protection at work. Social elections must be held for the election of the works council and for the committee for prevention and protection at work. The next social elections will take place between 9 and 22 May 2016.

In principle, every undertaking (understood as “technical operating unit”) habitually employing an average of at least 100 employees (for the election of the works council) or 50 employees (for the election of the committee for prevention and protection at work) (20 employees for mining, quarrying and underground quarrying companies) during the year preceding the elections is responsible for starting the procedure for the social elections.

THE NOTION OF “TECHNICAL OPERATING UNIT” (TOU)

The social elections are organised at the level of “the technical operating unit”.

 This is a specific notion which applies for the social elections and which is defined on the basis of economic and social criteria. In case of doubt, social criteria prevail over economic criteria.

As an example, the following economic criteria are taken into consideration: Autonomy to make daily management decisions, different directors, different shareholders, separate accounts, separate legal/HR/finance etc. departments, separate production, different economic activities (as opposed to similar or complementary activities), existence of competition (the absence of cooperation agreements, the absence of agreements on price lists, the absence of exchange of goods), its own clientele, its own budget, etc.

Examples of social criteria are: An independence in human resources management, different policies in terms of recruitment/dismissal/training, disciplinary sanctions; different compensation & benefits structure; distance between units; specific employment terms and conditions/policies/ employment contracts/work regulation; belonging to different joint committees; working with different payroll agencies/ external service for prevention and protection at work/ insurers etc.; different IT/telephone/fax systems, etc.

LAUNCH OF THE PRE-ELECTION PROCEDURE BETWEEN 11 & 24 DECEMBER 2015

Depending on the date of the social elections, the launch of the pre-election procedure should take place between 11 and 24 December 2015 (on X-60).

The pre-election procedure is launched by a written communication drafted by the employer for the attention of the employee consultative bodies (the works council and/or the committee for prevention and protection at work, and in the absence of these, the trade union delegation).

The following information will have to be provided by the employer:

  • The determination of the notion of technical operating unit(s) (TOU);
  • The number of employees employed per category within the TOU on X-60;
  • A list of functions of middle management staff (cadres/ kaderledden) and, for information, a list of the people who exercise these functions;
  •  A list of functions of senior management staff (personnel de direction/leidinggevend personeel) and, for information, a list of the people who exercise these functions;
  • The data of day Y (i.e. the date chosen for the elections, between 9 & 22 May 2016) and the date X (i.e. the date of posting up of the notice announcing the date of the elections).

To comply with this obligation, the employer is obliged to use the form which is available on the web site of the Belgian Federal Public Service Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue (http://www.emploi.belgique.be/defaultTab. aspx?id=42283).

Once completed, this form is:

  • To be provided to the members of the works council and/ or the committee for prevention and protection at work, and in the absence of these, to the member of the trade union delegation;
  • To be posted in the undertaking. This posting can be replaced by the digital circulation of this document if all the workers have access to this document during their normal working hours;
  • To be downloaded onto the website of the Belgian Federal Public Service Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue or directly sent out to the national seats of the trade unions.