Right to take on parallel employment
Mandatory training
Right to minimum work predictability


The EU Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions obliges member states to guarantee an improvement in employment conditions by enforcing more transparent and predictable employment conditions and an increase in flexibility in the labour market. Belgium has finally transposed this EU Directive with two legal instruments:

  • the Act of 7 October 2022; and
  • national collective bargaining agreement (CBA) No. 161 of 27 September 2022.

This article, part of a series on the implementation of the EU Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions in Belgium,(1) examines three new rights that employees will be entitled to based on the Act of 7 October 2022 – namely, the right to:

  • take on parallel employment;
  • undertake free mandatory training; and
  • expect minimal predictability of work (for part-time employees with variable working schedules).

Right to take on parallel employment

Many employment contracts include an "exclusivity clause", which is a clause that prohibits an employee from carrying out any or a certain professional activity other than the one covered by their employment contract for the entire duration thereof. This type of clause restricts the employee's freedom of labour, and is only allowed under strict conditions. The new Act of 7 October 2022 further reduces the application of such exclusivity clauses by stipulating that an employer cannot prohibit an employee from taking up employment with another employer outside their work schedule or subject an employee to adverse treatment for doing so, except where permitted by law.

The following table provides a comparison of the differences between the old regime and the new one.

Old regime

New regime

Exclusivity clauses are permitted, if they are reasonable and not disproportionate and do not hinder the employee's freedom of labour.

Exclusivity clauses are prohibited, except where permitted by law.

Examples of exclusivity clauses that have been accepted by case law:

  • clauses that include a prohibition limited to the performance of activities that may hinder the proper performance of the employment contract (eg, prohibition of working night shifts, preventing the employee from executing their daytime job properly); and
  • clauses only prohibiting competing activities with another employer.

The explanatory memorandum to the new Act states that, by way of exception and for example, it is permitted by law to provide for an exclusivity clause that prohibits:

  • fair or unfair competition by the employee during the employment contract;
  • obtaining, using, or disclosing a business secret; or
  • engaging or cooperating in any act of unfair competition.

Examples of exclusivity clauses that have been rejected by case law:

  • clauses that prohibit any professional activity outside the framework of the employment contract, whether lucrative or not; and
  • clauses that make the exercise of any professional activity, whether competing or not, conditional on the employer's explicit consent.

To determine the validity of an exclusivity clause under the old regime, reasonableness and proportionality had to be considered, taking into account the employee's function and the interference with their freedom of labour.

This legal reform reflects a paradigm shift, from authorisation (subject to strict conditions) to prohibition (apart from the exceptions provided for by law).

Mandatory training

Several legal and sectoral provisions require employers to provide mandatory training necessary for employees to perform their job. For example, employees in the transport sector are required by law to participate in a training programme in order to receive their dangerous goods certificate.

The new Act of 7 October 2022 specifically targets this type of mandatory training and provides numerous changes in favour of employees:

  • Such training must be supplied free of charge by the employer.
  • Such training will need to take place during the employee's working hours. If training is organised outside these hours, the employer will have to justify this on organisational grounds and will have to bear the full burden of proof in this regard.
  • The duration of the training must be considered as working time.

The new Act has also amended the existing rules regarding training clauses. The purpose of a training clause is to oblige the employee to reimburse the training costs borne by the employer if the employee leaves the company before a contractually defined period of time. In this regard, the previous system allowed training clauses to be drawn up for mandatory training related to bottleneck functions. However, the new system prohibits training clauses for such functions, given that the EU Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions requires that all mandatory training must be free for the employee.

The EU (and subsequently the Belgian) legislature has stressed the principle of free mandatory training. This principle has now materialised in Belgian law with the modification of the rules surrounding training clauses, which can no longer be applied to such mandatory training. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Right to minimum work predictability

Part-time employees with variable working schedules already benefitted from guarantees regarding the predictability and notification of their working schedules before the entry into force of the Act of 7 October 2022. The new Act reinforces these principles and broadens their scope of application. The objective behind the creation of these new rights is undoubtedly to protect part-time employees with variable working hours, given their delicate position in the labour market.

The new Act's main new features can be summarised as follows.

Expansion of scope of application
Part-time employees with variable working schedules who do not fall within the scope of application of the Act of 8 April 1965 (eg, domestic workers) and flexi-job workers are now also entitled to a series of protective mechanisms regarding work predictability:

  • These employees will need to be informed in advance of their working schedules, through a written and dated notice from their employer, which will determine their individual working schedule.
  • Following the Labour Deal, this notice must be notified to the employees at least seven working days in advance (which may be adapted by CBA and may not be less than three working days).

Right to refuse to perform work
Part-time employees with variable working schedules can now refuse a work shift (without any subsequent unfavourable treatment by the employer) when such a shift does not:

  • correspond to a working schedule that was notified to them in time; or
  • fall within the daily period and the days of the week during which shifts may be determined in accordance with the applicable work rules.

Right to compensation for late cancellation of work shift by employer
If the employer cancels a work shift that was scheduled in the announced working time schedule late, the employer will have to pay the employee "as if the work had effectively been performed", to protect employees with unpredictable working schedules against any loss of income due to the employer's actions. However, the explanatory memorandum specifies that this protection does not apply to "force majeure" events, given that this type of event would not reflect the employer's intention to cancel the work performance.

Employers who employ part-time employees with variable working schedules will have to take into account the new rights that have been created for them – namely:

  • the right to refuse a work shift if the working schedule has been notified late or is not in line with the "framework" included in the work rules; and
  • the right to remuneration for a work performance that has been cancelled late by the employer.


The new Act creates new rights and strengthens pre-existing rights for workers, which creates equivalent obligations for employers.

Two crucial elements should be highlighted:

  • The failure of the employer to comply with these obligations is subject to criminal penalties.
  • An employee (or their representative(s)) who files a complaint due to the employer's violation of these new rights will be protected against any unfavourable treatment or dismissal.

The employee can file such a complaint with the employer, the social inspectorate or the court.

If the employer adopts an unfavourable measure against the employee, or dismisses or prepares to dismiss the employee following a complaint, unless for reasons not related to the complaint, the employer will pay an indemnity equal to a lump sum of six months' gross remuneration, or an amount equal to the damage that the employee has suffered.

Therefore, employers are advised to take the following actions regarding these three new rights:

  • right to take on parallel employment – ensure that any exclusivity clauses contained in the employment contract templates meet the legal grounds of justification;
  • right to training – provide any mandatory training for free. Ensure that any training clauses exclude mandatory training from their scope of application; and
  • right to minimum work predictability – keep the new rights on minimum work predictability in mind, as well as the prohibition of adverse treatment and protection against dismissal relating to these rights.

For further information on this topic please contact Esther Soetens or Alexandre Calain at ALTIUS by telephone (+32 2 426 1414) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The ALTIUS website can be accessed at


(1) For earlier articles in the series, see: