Belgian Social Elections on hold

Written on 19 Mar 2020

Given the exceptional times, the Social Elections process will be put on hold. No date has been set yet but it is expected to take place after the summer. The date is expected be confirmed in the coming hours or days by executive decision.

The government's plan is to freeze the currently running election process. This would mean that all the steps already undertaken by the companies within the deadline will not have to be executed again once the procedure can be resumed. It appears that the Labour Ministry will freeze the process as from X+36 for all sectors after the names of the candidates are disclosed by the unions (X+35). In terms of the protection of employees who were candidates in the previous social elections in 2016, they remain in principle protected until the installation of the newly elected body. Osborne Clarke's understanding is that the protection will be extended, but we are awaiting the new law or royal decree for confirmation.

For companies with collective bodies, in accordance with their internal rules and the company's policy, regular meetings of the Work Council (WC) and/or Committee for the Prevention and Protection at Work (CPPW) should not be cancelled. Following the Royal Decree of 18 March 2020 formalising the measures adopted by the government on 17 March 17, all non-essential companies (other than food retail, pharmacies, petrol stations and petrol deliveries) must implement homeworking. For the functions for which homeworking is not feasible, the company can authorize the employees to come to the office provided it can ensure full compliance with the sanitary and social distancing measures (such as the 1.5 meter distance between people). If the "non-essential" company is unable to ensure compliance with these measures, it must close.  Therefore, in all "non-essential" companies where homeworking is mandatory, the meetings should be held virtually (for example, by Skype) or over the phone. We recommend that the president of the WC and/or the CPPW writes an email to the all members explaining that the regular meetings will be held virtually as from now and until further notice.

This insight will be updated when a law or royal decree is issued with further developments regarding the organisation of the social elections.