The Belgian National Labor Council has recently published Collective Bargaining Agreement number 104 ("CBA 104") introducing the obligation for employers from the private sector employing more than 20 employees to draft an employment plan for its employees of 45 years old and older as of 2013.

The Belgian National Labor Council is the Belgian national body with an advisory function for the Government or Parliament on social issues, with the power to give opinions when conflicts arise between various Joint Committees and the capacity to conclude national applicable collective bargaining agreements. This new employment plan must contain specific measures in order to improve or maintain the employment of such employees.

CBA 104 contains several nonlimitative suggestions of areas where action can be taken, such as:

  • The selection and hiring of new employees of 45 years old and older;
  • The development of the competencies and qualifications of employees of 45 years old and older, including access to education;
  • The development of careers and career guidance in the company;
  • The possibility to search for a more appropriate function in the context of an internal change;
  • The possibility to adjust working time and conditions;
  • Attention to the health of employees of 45 years old and older, prevention and elimination of physical and psychosocial barriers; and
  • Systems enabling their acquired competencies to be recognized.

Although CBA 104 entered into force on 1 January 2013, employers are compelled only to submit their draft plan to the employee representatives together with the mandatory annual economic and financial information of the company within three months after the end of the financial year. Since the financial year of most employers corresponds to the calendar year, the deadline to submit the first employment plan will be the end of March 2013 for most employers.

The employers concerned by such new obligation must consult the works council on the content of the employment plan, or in its absence, the trade union representatives, or in their absence, the committee of prevention and protection at work. In the event none of the above bodies are present in the company, the employer must present the employment plan directly to its employees. Although the employer is not bound by the opinion given by the employee representatives, it must motivate the decision not to follow such opinion. This motivation and the suggestions of the employee representatives which were not taken into account must be added to the employment plan as separate attachments, without the obligation for the employer to incorporate them in the plan itself.

The employment plan must be retained and kept at the disposal of the social inspection authorities within the company for a period of five years.