Overview of the latest employment news
National strike in Belgium: occasional telework is an option for employees that aim to work
13 December 2018
The joint trade union front announced a national strike for Friday 14 December 2018. Since strikes often bring blockades and traffic problems, employees that aim to work on such days encounter difficulties in reaching their workplace.
Employees that aim to work, yet cannot reach their workplace due to a strike, are only entitled to guaranteed daily salary if they (i) made reasonable efforts to reach their workplace and (ii) the strike was unforeseeable.
Since the strike of 14 December 2018 is a foreseeable one, a possible solution could be occasional telework. Occasional telework allows employees, who can fully operate through information technology equipment, to work remotely from home or another location of their choice while maintaining the same working conditions, workload and performance standards.
Special tax and social security treatment for presents under the employer’s Christmas tree
7 December 2018
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” for people who like (giving and receiving) presents. St. Nicholas is busy rewarding good children with presents, while Christmas and New Year are fast approaching.
Within the context of the festive season, some employers like to reward (the children of) their employees with a present. Such presents can be added gifts for both employer and employee, as they are exempt from social security contributions and fully tax deductible under certain conditions.
What to do when there is a personal data breach
30 November 2018
Recent media coverage indicates that more than 27,000 personal data breaches have been notified to European Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) since the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) entered into force six months ago. Belgium accounts for 300 of these breaches.
Cash or warrants? Have your employees already made their choice?
23 November 2018
Employees who can choose to receive their variable salary either in cash or in warrants, should express their choice before the end of the bonus year. If not, warrants could be considered as salary for social security purposes.
When may (or should) employees transfer unused vacation days or compensatory rest to the following year?
16 November 2018
At the end of the year, employers frequently come across employees who did not use their allocated vacation days and compensatory rest.
While some employers allow a (limited) transfer, others do not. What is legally possible?
Year-end promotions and salary increases: effects of indexation should not be overlooked
9 November 2018
The end of the year is often a period when companies take stock and reflect on the previous months. Therefore, closing the year in many companies involves decisions on promotions, merit increases, bonuses, etc.
A strike, what to do?
1 November 2018
When googling the word “strike”, you get 494.000.000 hits. All who read the newspapers these past days, weeks, even months or years, knows that strikes are part of the daily news. This is mostly due to the large impact that strikes may have on companies as well as on suppliers and customers who are not involved in the social conflict. We therefore briefly explain the basic rights and obligations.
Constitutional Court confirms the validity of termination clauses entered into with higher-earning white-collar employees before 1 January 2014
26 October 2018
The Constitutional Court examined a question regarding valid agreements on notice periods (termination clauses) concluded before 1 January 2014 with higher-earning white-collar employees. The court’s assessment considered the Unified Employment Status Act (Act of 26 December 2013), which introduced a unified status for blue-collar and white-collar employees regarding notice periods, the ‘waiting day’ (carensdag / jour de carence) and accompanying measures.
In an 18 October 2018 judgment (140/2018), the Constitutional Court gave the green light for such termination clauses and finally clarified a point of endless controversy.
New formalities and conditions for the installation and use of surveillance cameras (CCTV)
8 June 2018
As the general data protection regulation (“GDPR”) entered into force, adjustments were also made to the Camera Surveillance Act of 21 March 2007.
As of 25 May 2018, new formalities and conditions are applicable to the installation and use of surveillance cameras (CCTV). The Act provides for a new procedure for notifying the police of cameras, new indications to add to pictograms notifying individuals of cameras, and mandatory records of footage processing activities. Controllers already using surveillance cameras must also comply with these new rules.
GDPR HR Checklist – Obligations with regard to the processing of personal data as from 25 May 2018
25 May 2018
After an implementation period of 2 years, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has finally entered into force.
Personal data processing is an important aspect of HR management and all companies in general.
Notice periods modified and new labour related measures introduced by new Act on economic growth and social cohesion reinforcement
30 March 2018
The new Act on economic growth and social cohesion reinforcement was adopted on 22 March 2018 by the Parliament (the Act), and introduces new labour related measures.
What follows in this newsflash is a (selective) overview of the main changes brought by this new Act.
Checking the Limosa declaration of foreign workers
17 March 2017
Limosa is the declaration system for cross-border employment in Belgium. A so-called Limosa declaration has to be filed for:
- Employees temporarily or partially employed in Belgium by a foreign employer and not subject to Belgian social security
- Self-employed persons temporarily or partially active in Belgium, whether or not they are subject to Belgian social security
The Limosa declaration notifies the Belgian social security authorities of the individual’s employment in Belgium. Such a declaration must imperatively be done before the actual start of activities in Belgium.
Parliament adopts Act on feasible and flexible work
24 February 2017
On 23 February 2017, the parliament adopted the Act on feasible and flexible work (the so-called Peeters Act).
With this Act, the government takes an additional and important step towards a modernised labour law and a more flexible organisation of the labour market. The Peeters Act specifically aims at job creation, flexible work for everyone and social innovation.
The EU Posted Workers Directive: old and new employers’ liabilities
15 February 2017
The EU legislation on Posted Workers was introduced at the end of the 1990s to strike a balance between the free movement of services and the social protection of workers within the EU. It was to ensure the application of certain host country employment terms and conditions to assignees.
When assigning employees within the EU, the Posted Workers Directive (EC/96/71) – hereafter referred to as the “PWD” – obliges employers to comply with a “hard nucleus” of labour law provisions in the host country during the assignment period. Since many EU countries continued to struggle in enforcing those rules, and non-compliance led to unfair competition, action was taken at European level with the Enforcement Directive (EU/2014/67). The latter aims to improve local compliance with this “hard nucleus” through general enforcement measures and specific new employers’ obligations.
In addition, the European Commission recently proposed to revise the original PWD to increase the social protection of assigned workers and guarantee equal pay for equal work.
OSS: Important changes in contributions
10 February 2017
As previously announced, the OSS communicated several changes to the contributions for the OSS general scheme (previously DIBISS/ORPSS).
The OSS has followed up by announcing that changes to the minimum and maximum contributions, in view of an affiliation with the OSS general scheme, are to be implemented from 1 April 2017 at the earliest (instead of 1 February 2017 as initially foreseen).
Social Security Benefits Study 2017
30 January 2017
Deloitte has announced the results of its comparative Social Security Benefits Study, completed in close collaboration with Laga. The objective of this study is to compare social security schemes across the European Economic Area and highlight the most important similarities and differences, doing so from the perspective of mobile employees and business in general. For mobile employees who may switch between social security schemes, the level of social protection is generally a key talking point.
Council of State aligns with the Supreme Court: Act of 29 July 1991 and prior hearing obligation not applicable when dismissing a contract worker
26 January 2017
On 27 September 2016, the Council of State confirmed that the discussion regarding the application of (i) the Act of 29 July 1991 on the Formal Motivation of Administrative Acts and (ii) the general principles of good administration, to the dismissal of a contract worker or a public sector employer has been settled by the Supreme Court's decision of 12 October 2015.
Long term incapacity: new measures
9 January 2017
The number of long-term incapacitated employees is increasing. Two new measures have therefore been introduced into Belgian legislation: (1) a re-integration procedure for long-term incapacitated employees and simultaneously, (2) a restriction of the “medical force majeure” termination modality which, going forward, can only be relied upon after the completion of the re-integration procedure.
Commission proposal to revise EU social security coordination rules
19 December 2016
EU Regulation 883/2004 coordinates social security systems within the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland for mobile workers, mainly by determining the applicable legislation in cross-border employment situations and by coordinating social security benefits to prevent loss of rights.
After a legislative standstill in this area since 2012, the European Commission launched a proposal to revise different chapters in the Regulation, within the framework of its 2016 Work Programme, to ensure the fairness, clarity and efficiency of EU social security coordination.
Occupational pension entitlements overview now available online
7 December 2016
The www.mypension.be website allowed the public to verify their legal pension entitlements. The MyPension platform now allows individuals to consult their occupational pensions online.
Belgian 5.55% social security charges on occupational pensions violate EU law
16 November 2016
Upon the lump sum pay-out of a Belgian occupational pension, insurance companies are currently obliged to withhold, at source, the Belgian solidarity contribution (“SOL-contribution” of 2%) and health insurance contribution (“RIZIV/INAMI-contribution of 3.55%) from the pension benefit. The beneficiary can afterwards prove that he/she is subject to the social security system of another EEA country1 and that Belgium is not financially responsible for his/her medical care costs. Subsequently, it is confirmed that the withheld amounts were not due and will be reimbursed by the competent authority (“Federale Pensioendienst” / “Service fédéral des Pensions”).
The European Court of Justice recently ruled that this automatic withholding, which is completely blind to the beneficiary’s social security position at pay-out, is contrary to EU law.
Eco-vouchers - replacement by equivalent benefits (JC 200)
12 October 2016
Within Joint Committee (JC) 200 (formerly JC 218), employees are entitled to eco-vouchers granted on an annual basis during the month of June (for a value of EUR 250 for full-time employees). Each year, these eco-vouchers can be replaced by equivalent benefits for the following year.
This means that employers planning to convert their 2017 eco-vouchers into equivalent benefits should do so before 31 October 2016.
New EU General Data Protection Regulation: what impact on human resources management?
6 September 2016
Regulation (EU) 2016/679 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (also known as the General Data Protection Regulation) has been finally adopted on 27 April 2016. It will apply in all EU Member States from 25 May 2018, after a transitional period of about 2 years. In Belgium, the Regulation will replace the Personal Data Protection Act of 8 December 1992.
Risks related to seconded employees’ business travel
6 September 2016
Many seconded employees combine their secondment from home to a host country with business trips. As long as these work-related visits to other countries remain “ad hoc” travel, this should not pose any problems.
However, if business travel to certain countries develops into a regular and permanent working pattern, a secondment can be recategorised as simultaneous employment. This is the case if regular business travel to a country exceeds 5% of the employee’s overall working time.
Harmonisation of supplementary pensions: 1st status update on industry progress
17 June 2016
On 7 June 2016, the National Labour Council published a first status update on the progress made in all joint labour committees (JLCs) in view of the harmonisation of industrial supplementary pension schemes for blue- and white-collar workers.
The status update shows that several JLCs have already started the harmonisation process together with their equivalent blue- or white-collar JLC. Difficulties arise in industries where no equivalent JLC is present or hard to identify.
Yearly Premium (JC 200): replacement by equivalent benefits - Update
24 May 2016
Laga’s newsflash of 7 December 2015 elaborated on the NSSO’s position that no social security contributions are due if the EUR 250.00 yearly premium in JC 200 (yearly premium) is replaced by luncheon and/or eco-vouchers, provided this is done before 1 January 2016.
The NSSO has now re-confirmed this position in response to a question on whether social security contributions are due on luncheon or eco-vouchers granted instead of the yearly premium between 1 January 2016 and the start of the new reference period on 1 June 2016.
Index jump impact ends for employers
11 May 2016
To safeguard the competitiveness of Belgian companies, the government intervened several times in the automatic salary indexation mechanism. The effect from the last intervention – the 2015 index jump of 2% – already diminished during April 2016 because of the high inflation rate.
What is the impact on employers?
Supplementary Pensions Act Reform
8 February 2016
On 18 December 2015, the Act guaranteeing the sustainability and social character of supplementary pensions and reinforcing the supplementary character vis-à-vis legal pensions has been published (the “Act of 18 December 2015”). This Act amends the Act of 28 April 2003 concerning supplementary pensions (WAP/LPC) (“Supplementary Pensions Act”) and entered into force as of 1 January 2016.