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Are employers required to give notice of termination?
Excluding termination for serious cause, employers can terminate an employment contract with a notice to be performed or by payment of an indemnity in lieu of notice.
If an employer wishes to terminate the employment relationship with the performance of a notice period, during which the employee must continue to perform his or her tasks, the notice must be given subject to a strict procedure. The letter must:
- be sent by registered mail or bailiff;
- be drafted in the correct language; and
- mention the date, the decision to terminate the employment with a notice period and the duration and start of the notice.
If the employer wishes to terminate the employment relationship with immediate effect, no specific legal formalities are involved.
What are the rules that govern redundancy procedures?
Belgian law does not recognise the concept of redundancy. Where a role would become redundant, the normal termination rules should be followed.
Are there particular rules for collective redundancies/mass layoffs?
Yes. In cases of collective dismissal, a specific procedure must be followed.
A ‘collective dismissal’ is defined as a mass lay-off on technical or economic grounds involving the dismissal over a 60-day period of at least:
- 30 employees for companies with more than 300 employees;
- 10% of the workforce for companies with more than 100 but fewer than 300 employees; or
- 10 employees for companies comprising between 20 and 100 employees.
An employer must first communicate its intention to proceed with a collective dismissal, followed by an information and consultation procedure, before being able to confirm the intention and proceed with the dismissal.
What protections do employees have on dismissal?
Employees that benefit from specific protection against dismissal are those who:
- are pregnant;
- are entitled to breastfeeding breaks;
- benefit from paternal leave;
- have remarked on the work regulations;
- have filed a complaint or procedure before the courts regarding the equal treatment of men and women;
- are on political leave;
- are threatened by new technologies;
- are on a career break;
- are on thematic leave (eg, palliative care and child care);
- benefit from time credit;
- are entitled to parental leave;
- are union representatives;
- are a (candidate) member for the works council or committee for protection and prevention in the workplace;
- work as a prevention adviser;
- have filed a complaint based on the Anti-discrimination Law 2007;
- have filed a complaint based on the Bullying Law 2007; or
- have filed a formal complaint regarding moral or sexual harassment, violence or psychosocial risks.
These employees may be terminated for reasons unrelated to their specific situation only. In some cases, specific procedures must be followed in order for the company to proceed with the termination of the employment contract.
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