The government of Belgium attaches a lot of importance to the training of employees organised by the companies in the private sector. In the proposed bill, the government wants to create a new framework for employers to encourage the investment in the training of their employees.
The Act of 23 December 2005 states that all the companies from the private sector have to engage in training efforts for their employees. The value of the total training efforts of all the companies must be at least 1,9% of the total salary cost of all the companies combined.
If employers belong to a sector that does not contribute enough to the total amount of training efforts, these employers must pay a financial contribution of 0,05% to support initiatives in favor of risk groups.
However, in 2014, the Constitutional Court ruled that this situation is in breach with the principle of equality and non-discrimination. As a result, the government suspended the application of these provisions and up till now the provisions have not been replaced by a new legal framework.
The existing legal framework, which is currently not enforced, will be replaced by a totally new system.
The previous goal of training investments by employers equal to 1,9% of the total salary cost of all the companies in the private sector will be replaced by a cross-sectoral objective of average 5 training days per year and per full-time equivalent ('FTE'). For SME's, a divergent system will be determined by Royal Decree.
The framework provides 3 different ways to reach this objective.
The sector can take the initiative by:
- Concluding a new collective bargaining agreement in a Joint (sub)Committee
- By extending a collective bargaining agreement in force during 2013-2014 and 2015-2016
The new collective bargaining agreement has to provide in an effort for the companies at least equal to a training effort of average 2 days per FTE. In addition, the new collective bargaining agreement has to foresee how the cross-sectoral objective of average 5 training days per FTE per year will be reached.
If a collective bargaining agreement is extended, this agreement has to maintain at least the existing training effort at sectoral level and provide in a growing path determining how the training days will be increased to reach the cross-sectoral objective.
If no initiative on sectoral level is taken, it is up to the companies themselves to provide in trainings for their employees by creating individual training accounts. This individual account contains credits the employee is entitled to in order to participate in certified trainings. The specific modalities and the development of this account will be further specified by Royal Decree.
Subsequently, if no initiative is taken on sectoral level or company level, the employee will be entitled to 2 training days per year and per FTE. As a consequence, a company with 50 FTE's will have to organise 100 trainings days per year.
If there is no collective bargaining agreement on sectoral level by 30 November 2017, companies will have to create individual training accounts to ensure the training of their employees.