Since 1st of January 2014, it is not possible to include probationary periods in newly concluded employment contracts (except for students and temporary agency workers).

Due to this abolition of the probationary period, some employers became more reluctant to conclude permanent employment contracts with their new hires. Instead, they preferred to conclude a temporary employment contract first.

To tackle this growing practice and to encourage the conclusion of permanent employment contracts, the Belgian legislator introduces shorter, gradually increasing legal notice periods for dismissals during the first six months of employment.

The proposed changes are as follows:

Seniority Legal notice period
Today As of (datum te bevestigen - eerste dag van tweede maand na publicatie in BS)
< 3 months 2 weeks > 1 week
Between 3 and 4 months 4 weeks > 3 weeks
Between 4 and 5 months 4 weeks = 4 weeks
Between 5 and 6 months 4 weeks < 5 weeks

This reform shall concern both temporary and permanent employment contracts, and will apply to dismissals notified to employees on or after (date of entry into force of the act).

Even if this reform technically does not reintroduce contractual probationary periods, it will have the same effect i.e. facilitating dismissals at the beginning of the employment relationship.

The legal reforms discussed in this publication are not definitively approved by Parliament yet, and may be subject to change.