On 23 October 2018, the National Labour Council (Nationale Arbeidsraad) issued an opinion on a note by the Federal Public Service for Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue (FOD WASO) regarding the legislation on social elections and the relevant web application.
The opinion lays out certain general principles and contains proposals for further automation of the election process and concrete modifications with a view to organisation of the 2020 social elections.
Automation of the election process
With regard to further automation of the election process, it should be noted that:
- All announcements can now be made in electronic form, provided all employees can access the electronic document during normal working hours; and
- Documents relating to the social selections can be provided through the web application of the Federal Public Service for Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue rather than being sent by post.
Organisation of the 2020 social elections
The most important measures in terms of organisation of the 2020 social elections are the following:
- The elections period will run from 11 until 24 May 2020. This means that companies can already set the date for their social elections within this period.
- In principle, companies that normally employ at least 100 people on average must establish a works council while companies that normally employ at least 50 people on average must have a health and safety committee. In order to determine whether a company must establish a works council and/or a health and safety committee, it is necessary to verify whether the aforementioned thresholds are met. This calculation is based on:
- the average number of employees during the so-called reference period, i.e. the period of 4 quarters prior to that in which the social elections are announced; for the 2020 social elections, the reference period runs from 1 October 2018 until 30 September 2019;
- the average number of temporary employees used by the company; for the 2020 social elections, the reference period to be used to determine the number of temporary employees is Q2 2019.
Furthermore, it should be noted that a guidance committee is currently discussing a protocol on the impact of the GDPR on the social elections legislation. The National Labour Council proposes incorporating certain guidelines into the protocol, relating to the keeping of a register of temporary employees, the minutes of social elections, lists of voters and candidates and the retention of documents and announcements by the employee representative bodies to their members and non-members.
Finally, with a view to the 2020 social elections, it is recommended to already take the following measures:
- Check whether your company meets the threshold for the establishment of a works council and/or a health and safety committee.
- Verify which/how many employees qualify as executives (kaderleden), in order to determine whether separate representation of executives on the works council is required.
- Verify which/how many employees qualify as members of management (leidinggevend personeel) in order to exclude them from the scope of executives.