• Leila Mstoian - Marcel Houben

Employers’ groupings

Workable and flexible work

Downloads The statute "Workable and Flexible Work" is turning the Employers' groupings into a definite system, simplified but extended.

The employers’ grouping has been introduced in Belgian employment law in 2014 along the lines of the French example. So far, it was restricted to an experiment, renewed each time on an annual basis. 

The statute "Workable and Flexible Work" is now turning it into a definite system, simplifies it and extends it.

The employers’ grouping is established by two or more enterprises as a non-profit association (hereafter "N-PA") or an economic interest grouping (hereafter "EIG"). The N-PA or the EIG hires employees in order to put these at the disposal of the member-enterprises along their needs.

So, essentially, this is a system allowing the member-enterprises to call temporarily or part-time on workers, for whom they do not have permanent or full-time employment, without having to assume expenses, which exceed the cost of the effective part-time or temporary employment.

The N-PA or the EIG is formally the employer, who puts the employees at the disposal of the member-enterprises. Consequently, this is a violation of the prohibition in principle to put workers at the disposal of a third party. Therefore, measures to make an exception to this prohibition are required.

Notwithstanding the fact that the system has been applicable for almost three years, it has not been successful (unlike France, where, according to estimations, 40,000 jobs have been created that way).

So, the purpose of minister Peeters is to make the system more attractive by simplifying the procedure to establish employers’ groupings and by extending the possibilities to use the system.

Below follows an overview of the modifications.

1. Establishing an employers’ grouping is made easier

The employers’ grouping must obtain beforehand the authorization of the Minister of Labour, who decides within 40 days. He may – but he is no longer obliged to do so – ask the National Labour Council for its advice.

The authorization is valid for an indefinite duration, but the Minister of Work may withdraw the authorization at any time, if the employers’ grouping does not comply (any more) with the requirements.

The employers’ grouping must have the corporate form of a N-PA or an EIG. Its purpose must be limited to putting its workers at the disposal of the member-enterprises. 

Additional purposes require a royal decree, adopted after consultation within the Council of Ministers and after advice of the National Labour Council.

2. Employment of a maximum 50 employees

The maximum number of employees that may be employed by an employers’ grouping is fixed at 50. 

When an employers’ grouping exceeds that number, the authorization of the Minister of Labour takes an end three months following the date of exceeding.

3. Which joint labour-management committee is competent?

The Minister of Labour determines the joint labour-management committee, which has competence over the employees of the employers’ grouping, and he does so in the authorization. If all members fall within the scope of the same joint labour-management committee, this committee is also competent for the employers’ grouping. If that is not the case, the Minister of Labour determines the competent one by choosing between either the joint labour-management committee of the member(s) who will call most on the services of the employees of the employers’ grouping, or the joint labour-management committee of the member(s), employing the most permanent workers. The Minister of Labour may ask the advice of the National Labour Council.

If a new member adheres to the employers’ grouping, which falls within the scope of a joint labour-management committee, other than the committee(s) of the existing members, a new application has to be filed with the Minister of Labour to determine the competent joint labour-management committee.

The employers’ groupings must file each year a report on their activities with the FPS Employment, Labour and Social Consultation. The Minister of Labour may change his decision on the competent labour-management committee on the basis of that report.

4. Liability for the employers’ grouping

The member-enterprises are jointly and severally liable for the fiscal and social debts of the employers’ grouping towards the employees as well as towards third parties.

After 4 years the National Labour Council will evaluate these legal stipulations.