- Leila Mstoian - Marcel Houben
The performance of night work, that is work performed between 8h00 PM and 6h00 AM, is in
principle forbidden in Belgium.
A number of exceptions to this general principle of prohibition have been laid down in statutes and royal decrees.
To put it otherwise, performance of night work must be explicitly authorized.
Because of the explosive evolution of electronic trade (e-commerce) in the course of the last years and, even more so, because of the pressing competition from the surrounding countries, setting up a legal framework for e-commerce became a matter of urgency in order to meet and to promote the growth in the sector.
A first step has already been made by the Royal Decree of 13 March 2016. This Royal Decree authorizes the performance of night work by the workers employed by the companies falling within the scope of the joint labour-management committee for the independent retail trade (JM-LC 201), the joint labour-management committee for the white-collar workers in the retail trade of food products (JL-MC 202), the joint labour-management committee for the large retail businesses (JL-MC 311) and the joint labour-management committee for department stores (JL-MC 312), and this particularly for the performance of activities linked to electronic trade.
In each of these joint labour-management committees a collective labour agreement has been entered into, which further details the procedure to be complied with in order to introduce work time schedules, including performance of night work, as referred to in article 38 of the Labour Act.
The statute "Workable and Flexible Work" broadens the authorization to perform night work to all logistic and supporting services, linked to electronic trade. So, this includes also activities, which are performed by companies not falling within the scope of the joint labour-management committees listed above.
Needless to say, the procedures, as already existing, for the purposes of introducing work time schedules including performance of night work (as the case may be, combined with shift work) must strictly by complied with.