The act of 29 February 2016 supplementing and amending the Social Criminal Code and various provisions of social criminal law was published in the Belgian Official Gazette on 21 April 2016. It is the first important reform of the Social Criminal Code which came into effect on 1 July 2011.
A number of the main amendments are related to wellbeing at work.
As such, the Social Criminal Code is adapted in terms of psychosocial risks at work, such as stress, violence, psychological and sexual harassment, as a consequence of the amendment of the Act on wellbeing on this point. The sanctions foreseen in the context of preventive measures and employee protection from violence, psychological and sexual harassment are at level 3, namely a criminal fine of 600 to 6000 euro or an administrative fine of 300 to 3000 euro. From now on, failure to comply with the procedures laid down in the Act on wellbeing in case of a formal psychosocial intervention request and failure to appoint a health and safety advisor specializing in psychosocial aspects and a person of trust are also punishable. Non-compliance with the obligations regarding psychosocial risk prevention in general can also give rise to sanctions.
Non-compliance with legislation regarding smoking in the workplace is also punishable. In case of infringements such as failure to provide smoke-free workspace, a level 3 sanction may be imposed. The infringements may even be punished with a level 4 criminal sanction, namely a prison sentence of 6 months to 3 years and/or a criminal fine of 3600 to 36 000 euro, or also an administrative fine of 1800 to 18 000 euros, if these infringements caused health issues or a work accident to the employee.
In the context of temporary employment, the amended Social Criminal Code now also assimilates the user of the temporary workers with the employer of these temporary workers, namely, the temporary work agency, in terms of criminal liability in case of infringements to provisions the application of which it is responsible for, for instance infringements to the legislation regarding working time, public holidays, maternity protection, working rules and wellbeing at work.
Finally, from now on, an employee that is knowingly and intentionally performing work, while not being declared, can be punished. The sanction which may be imposed on the employee is, however, limited to a level 1 sanction: an administrative sanction of 60 to 600 euro.
The amended Social Criminal Code came into effect on 1 May 2016.