The statute "Workable and Flexible Work" provides for a new regulation concerning "investment in training".
The existing inter-professional goal aiming at spending 1.9% of the total salary mass for training is now replaced by a new inter-professional goal of an average of 5 days of training per full time equivalent per year.
The Generation Pact Statute of 23 December 2005, amended by the statute of 15 May 2014, implementing the pact on competitiveness, employment and recovery imposes a global training effort of the employers in the private sector equivalent to at least 1.9% of the total salary mass for all companies globally.
The global training efforts were assessed on the basis of a technical report established by the Central Council for Business. The employer, belonging to a sector, which did not realize the training efforts, had to pay a contribution equivalent to 0.05%, which was used to finance initiatives in favour of groups at risk.
The Constitutional Court held that these stipulations of the Generation Pact Statute violated the principle of equality and non-discrimination (decision of 23 October 2014).
In view of complying with the decision of the Constitutional Court and reforming the existing system, a new system is installed, focusing on the new inter-professional goal of, on average, 5 training days per full time equivalent per year.
This part of the statute "Workable and Flexible Work" is the example by excellence of a regulation referring abundantly to royal decrees to be enacted for the purposes of completing and implementing the regulations. Therefore, we will limit ourselves below to a summary of the general principles.
1. To whom the new regulation applies?
The new regulation applies to the employers and employees covered by the statute of 5 December 1968 on collective labour agreements and joint labour-management committees. However, the employers employing less that 10 workers are exempted. For the employers, employing at least 10 up to 19 workers, a derogating system will be installed by royal decree.
The number of employees is calculated in terms of full time equivalents on the basis of the average employment rate of the year proceeding each two-year-period (the first two-year period starting on 1 January 2017).
2. The realization of the inter-professional goal related to training
It is the explicit intention of the government that the transfer of the goal of 1.9% of the salary mass to the average of 5 days training per full time equivalent per year does not result in an increase of the salary cost. The employers’ federations are very sceptical with respect to the realization of that goal.
The realization of the new inter-professional goal of globally 5 training days per full time equivalent per year is to be put into practice:
either by a new collective labour agreement at sector level providing for a training effort equivalent to at least 2 training days per full time equivalent per year as from 1 January 2017.
In addition, the collective labour agreement must define how the number of training days will globally evolve from 2 to 5 full time equivalents. The collective labour agreements apply each for a period of two years, starting as from 1 January 2017.
The collective labour agreement must be filed with the General Directorate Collective Labour Relations at the latest on 30 September of the first year of the two-year period, it being understood that this ultimate date is extended to 30 November for the first two-year period 2017-2018;
or by extension of the collective labour agreements which were entered into at sector level within the framework of the former regulation for the periods 2013-2014 and 2015-2016.
These collective labour agreements must provide for a training effort, expressed in days, which is at least equivalent to the training effort as existing at sector level, it being understood that the minimum number of days must be equivalent globally to 2 training days per full time equivalent per year as from 1 January 2017.
In addition, the collective labour agreement must define how the number of training days will globally evolve from 2 to 5 full time equivalents; the collective labour agreements apply each for a period of two years, starting as from 1 January 2017.
Also this collective labour agreement must be filed with the General Directorate Collective Labour Relations at the latest on 30 September of the first year of the two-year period, it being understood that this ultimate date is extended to 30 November for the first two-year period 2017-2018;
if no collective labour agreement has been entered into at sector level, the goal is put into practice by the employer by way of an individual training account and establishment of a training credit to finance the training account.
The training credit made available to the employee, who has been employed the entire year, must be equivalent for the year at, at least, 2 days.
The individual training account must also determine how the number of training days will evolve from 2 to 5 training days per full time equivalent; the balance of the unused training credit at the end of the year is transferred to the following year, with the understanding that this balance shall not be deducted from the training credit of the worker for that following year.
The modalities of the calculation of the training credit of a part-time worker or a worker, who has not been employed the entire year, will be determined by royal decree.
The workers, belonging to a sector where no collective agreements have been entered into and to whom the employer did not allocate an individual training credit, are entitled to 2 days of training on average per year, per full time equivalent as from 1 January 2017. If the training is taking outside normal working hours, the salary is due for these hours of training as normal working hours.
3. One last consideration
The collective labour agreements at sector level determine the goals globally.
How these goals are put into practice for each individual worker certainly raises questions. In any event, the result might be that not each individual worker effectively had the opportunity to benefit of training days.