Recently, on 11 January 2018, an act was voted, which broadens the possibilities for concluding an electronic employment agreement by means of an electronic signature and provides a clear framework for the electronic archiving of documents. For the future, digitisation will be a lot easier in employment relations.
Currently, the possibilities of signing an electronic employment agreement with an electronic signature are extremely limited. Electronic employment agreement can only be concluded legally in Belgium with an electronic signature created by means of the eID card. Only then will the electronically concluded employment agreement be equated with an employment agreement with a handwritten signature.
Upon the entry into effect of the new provisions, however, there will be more options to sign an employment agreement with an electronic signature apart of the existing possibility to sign electronically with the e-ID. The electronic signature must, of course, comply with some necessary safety guarantees. Employment agreements which are electronically signed are equal to an employment agreement with a handwritten signature if the electronic signature is:
- A qualified electronic signature; or
- A signature that ensures the identity of the parties and their agreement with the content of the agreement and preserves the integrity of that Agreement. If this is challenged, the burden of proof lies with the employer.
In addition, a clear framework is introduced in relation to employment contract archiving and the other electronic documents in the context of the employment relationship with a qualified electronic archiving service. The electronic documents have to be stored (at least until five years after the end of the employment contract) with:
- a provider of an electronic archiving service; or
- the employer who operates such a service for his own account.
This electronic storage is free of charge for the employee.
When the period of five years after the end of the employment contract is expired, the documents are automatically transferred to SIGEDIS. This also brings Belgian legislation in line with European regulations.
The provisions discussed above will come into force on a date that will be determined by the King.
Thanks to these future changes, the digitisation of employment agreements will become a lot easier in the future.