Esther Soetens Mieke D'Hanis November 30 2022 New Belgian Labour Deal shakes up employer obligations and broadens workplace possibilities ALTIUS | Employment & Immigration - Belgium Esther Soetens, Mieke D'Hanis Employment & Immigration Obligations for employersPossibilities for employersOn 10 November 2022, the Labour Deal Act was finally published in the Belgian State Gazette. This article outlines the new obligations for employers as stated by the Act, alongside various options that employers can implement and pragmatically enforce.Obligations for employersRight to be "offline"Each company with at least 20 employees will be required to respect the right for each employee to be "offline" after working hours. These companies will have to lay down rules on "disconnection" at the company level in a company collective bargaining agreement (CBA) or in the work rules. The deadline to do so was originally set at 1 January 2023 at the latest (unless a CBA would have been concluded by that time, either in the National Labour Council or by the applicable joint committee, that regulates this right collectively). However, given the short period of time between the publication of the law and the deadline of 1 January 2023, the Employment Ministry announced that employers will be granted a three months' extension, ie, until 1 April 2023.Right to training days and obligatory annual training plan Each company with 20 employees or more must draw up a training plan every year before 31 March. This obligation has been in force since 1 September 2022.Platform workersInsurance for physical damage must be taken out for self-employed platform workers, which must offer protection equivalent to that provided in the Act of 10 April 1971 on work accidents. The date by which this insurance should be in place is not yet known and will be determined by royal decree.Variable working time schedules for part-time employeesVariable working time schedules for part-time employees must be notified to the employees at least seven working days in advance, instead of five working days. In case of an exception by sector CBA, the minimum notification period will be increased from one to three working days. The work rules will have to be modified in line with these changes within nine months of the Labour Deal entering into force, or within nine months following 20 November 2022. Until this time, the old notification periods continue to apply.Promoting redeployment From 1 January 2023 (for dismissals that take place or have taken place as from 1 January 2023), employees with a notice period (or indemnity in lieu of notice) of at least 30 weeks will be given the right to take-up "employment-enhancing measures" (eg, additional outplacement, training or coaching) during the notice period or after payment of the indemnity in lieu of notice. Such measures must have a value equal to the employer's social security contributions on the salary for one-third of the notice period or on one-third of the indemnity in lieu of notice (minus four weeks' for outplacement).Possibilities for employersIntroduction of four-day work weekIf a four-day work week is introduced, the work rules must be amended with this new possible schedule. If the weekly working hours exceed 38 hours in the company, a CBA must be concluded. It has been possible to introduce a four-day week since 20 November 2022.Introduction of varying weekly working regime If a four-day work week is introduced, the work rules must be amended with this new possible schedule. However, if the weekly working hours exceed 38 hours in the company, then a CBA must be concluded. It has been possible to introduce a four-day week since 20 November 2022.Transition pathsEmployees will have the option of beginning work on a voluntary basis for another employer during their notice period. Such work will be organised by the temporary employment agencies or by the regional employment agencies, the Flemish Service for Employment and Vocational Training, Forem or Actiris. An agreement will have to be made between these four parties (the initial employer, the employee, the new employer and the temporary employment agency or the regional employment agency) regarding the modalities and the duration of this regulated employee lending.It has been possible to utilise transition paths since 20 November 2022.Nightwork in e-commerce Employers will be able to set up a one-off experiment for a maximum period of 18 months in which:employees can work between 8 o'clock in the evening and midnight on a voluntary basis (without any union intervention); andthe working time schedules are automatically included in the work rules without having to go through the process for amending the work rules.It has been possible to set up such experiments since 20 November 2022.For further information on this topic please contact Esther Soetens or Mieke D'Hanis at ALTIUS by telephone (+32 2 426 1414) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). 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