Several social provisions of the ‘jobs deal’ promoting employment agreed by the Belgian Government in July 2018 have now entered into force. This article sets out details of these provisions.

By: Roxane Reyda

Firm: Claeys & Engels

The Act of 7 April 2019 on the social provisions of the jobs deal was published on 19 April 2019 in the Belgian State Gazette. This Act contains several items from the Summer Agreement approved by the Government in July 2018.

Below we go over the most important social provisions included in this Act. The provisions for which no specific date for entry into force is given entered into force on 29 April 2019.

Starter jobs

The system of so-called starter jobs (already implemented in 2018) is further developed in the Act. For the recruitment of young employees aged 18 to 21 years, the labour cost is reduced in certain cases from 18 to 6%. The net salary for the young employee is guaranteed by means of a fixed supplement. Now, a calculation method for this supplement is proposed, which entered into force on 1 March 2019. For these starter jobs only young people without work experience (with certain exceptions) who are hired with a normal employment agreement are eligible.

Outplacement

The act also provides for a system of outplacement for employees whose employment agreement comes to an end because the employer invokes medical force majeure. Until now, outplacement was only to be offered by the employer in the event of a dismissal; employees whose employment agreements were terminated due to force majeure could not benefit from outplacement. This issue has been addressed and now these employees will be entitled to outplacement assistance amounting to EUR 1,800.

Gardening leave

When an exemption from the requirement to attend work (‘gardening leave’) during the notice period is agreed with the employee, the employer has to inform the employee in writing of the fact that the employee has to register within one month with the competent regional employment agency.

Bottleneck professions

In addition, the education clause for bottleneck professions (professions in which there is a shortage of qualified candidates) is further modified. Henceforth, such an education clause (under which an employee is trained at the employer’s expense but must reimburse the training costs in part if he or she leaves the organisation before the end of an agreed period) can also be applicable when the training follows from a legal or regulatory provision requiring it in order to practise the bottleneck profession for which the employee was hired.

Occupational disability benefits

Under the Act, when an employee continues to be employed after reaching the legal retirement age, they will be entitled to occupational disability benefits for a period of five months following the period of guaranteed salary.

Employability measures

Finally, measures have also been included in the Act to improve the employability of employees on the labour market, including the possibility for an employee who is dismissed as from 1 January 2022 (or earlier when this is provided for in an RD) to choose to spend a maximum of one third of the indemnity in lieu of notice on education, provided in the form of an education budget.

Action Point

As from 29 April 2019, several new obligations for employers apply. These were already included in the Summer ‘jobs deal’ Agreement of July 2018.