Social elections 2020: the first date is approaching (X-60)


The time has come again, many companies are bracing themselves for the social elections that will be held in May 2020. The election procedure will take no less than 150 days.

The social elections will be held between 11 and 24 May 2020. The so-called Day X-60 is the first important date within the pre-electoral period and is at the earliest 13 December 2019, depending on the date on which the elections will actually take place (Day Y). 

The organisation of social elections is undeniably a complex procedure, preparation of which begins several months in advance.

1. When are social elections mandatory?

The social elections are aimed at establishing the Works Councils and/or Committees for Prevention and Protection at Work. These are bodies in which both the employer and employee representatives equally take a seat.

A Works Council must be established in those companies that employ at least 100 employees on average. Moreover, the Works Councils, that were established at previous social elections, must be renewed as soon as their company usually employs at least 50 employees on average. However, in companies employing between 50 and 99 employees that need to renew a Works Council, the election of the members of that Council should not take place. The mandate will be exercised by the elected staff representatives of the Committee for Prevention and Protection at Work.

A Committee for Prevention and Protection at Work must be established or renewed in all companies that usually employ at least 50 employees on average.

2. Organisation of the social elections

Social elections are organised at the level of the "Technical Business Unit" (hereinafter "TBU"). In principle, the TBU corresponds to the legal entity of the employer, but this is not always the case. Depending on the circumstances, it is possible that several separate legal entities must be merged into one single TBU.

One business activity is sometimes split into different legal entities, and so in diffferent TBU's, to avoid social elections. However, sometimes such a construction can be sometimes successfully challenged by the trade unions; the labour courts may decide to merge split legal entities into one TBU.

It is also possible that one legal entity is split into several TBU's. The result is that the number of protected employees is increasing. Such a division is therefore not always the right solution .

Good preparation is recommended. The first question to be asked when organising the social elections is therefore the definition of the TBU, the level at which the social elections are organised (threshold 50/100). Following that, companies must determine their workforce to determine whether they should organise social elections. 

Preparations for the social elections to be held between 11 and 24 May 2020 started during the last quarter of 2019. The first date, depending on the chosen election date (date "Y") that is taken into account is 13 December 2019 if the election date falls on 11 May 2020, or day X-60.

The employer is fully responsible for the organisation of the social elections. He must therefore take the initiative to start the election procedure.

If he fails to fulfil his obligations in this regard, criminal or administrative fines may be imposed on him.

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Leila Mstoian

Leila Mstoian