The implications of the Royal Decree are as follows:
The new date of the elections (new Day Y) will automatically be set on the basis of the date and time of the initially planned elections. The procedure will resume 54 days before the new Day Y. For example:
- If the initial Day Y was the first Tuesday in the initial period (Tuesday 12 May 2020), the new Day Y will be set for the first Tuesday of the new period (Tuesday 17 November 2020) and the resumption date will be 24 September 2020;
- If, due to a delay in the procedure, the original Day Y was after 24 May 2020 (i.e. Thursday 25 June 2020), the new Day Y will automatically be set for the first week of the new period (Wednesday 18 November 2020) and the resumption date will be 25 September 2020).
However, said Royal Decree leaves open the possibility of not applying this automatic system if the new Day Y is less convenient or if the voting time has to be extended (for example, in the context of the application of preventive health measures). As the Royal Decree entered into force on 1 August 2020, the Works Council, the Committee for Prevention and Protection at Work and the employer can, now, validly make decisions on the aforementioned points.
At the latest seven days before the resumption date, the notice mentioning the date and time of the postponed elections and the new procedural calendar must be communicated within and outside the company by means of a standard document ("the notice correcting notice X after the end of the suspension"), the model of which is set out in the annex to the Royal Decree.
The protection against dismissal of replacement candidates resumes on 18 August 2020 (new Day X) at the earliest and will end on 15 November 2020 (new Day X + 76) at the latest. Any dismissal which occurs between these above dates would therefore be at risk as it could target a protected worker without the employer's knowledge.
By Day X+29 at the latest (16 - 29 September), employers need to post the new election date, any adapted time schedule and the new calendar for the elections.
The decision to use electronic voting can still be taken until the new day X + 56, as confirmed by the law of 15 July 2020.
Please feel free to reach out to our team for any further assistance or advice concerning the resumption of the social elections.