The statute "Workable and Flexible Work"

Analyse The statute relating to "Workable and Flexible Work" has recently been approved and published in the Belgian Official Gazette.

The lack of flexibility as a result of (too?) rigid stipulations of employment law has been a major concern of the employers for ages.

More than 30 years ago, the first (modest) attempts were made in order to meet this concern: the "Experiments Hansenne", dating back to 1982, aimed mainly at the working time and the work schedules.

In this second decennium of the 21st century, this issue of flexibility on the work floor is, more than ever, under discussion: the ever increasing competition requires more and more quick – temporary as well as permanent – adjustments on the work floor.

In the coalition agreement of the government "Michel", relevant measures were announced. 

The statute "Workable and Flexible Work" is the answer. 

Minister Kris Peeters was inspired, so he said, by the "Experiments Hansenne". But, according to Minister Kris Peeters, while the "Experiments Hansenne" were limited to derogations in connection with the working time, this statute is doing the same with respect to the employment law as a whole. He even referred to it as "experiments Hansenne to the 10th power".

Although this seems somewhat exaggerated, still, innovations have been introduced in not less that 14 domains:

1.   Flexible work time schedules

2.   Voluntary overtime

3.   The internal limit of working time

4.   Investment in training

5.   Occasional tele-work

6.   Extension of the plus-minus conto

7.   Temporary employment agreement for an unlimited duration

8.   Career saving

9.   Donation of conventional leave

10. Modifications of the employers’ grouping

11. Simplification of part-time work

12. Gliding work time schedule

13. Extension of palliative leave and time credit

14. E-commerce

Remarkable: workable and flexible work is, beyond any doubt, an urgent need for elder workers as a result of the raising of the pensionable age; yet, this theme is not touched on in this statute.

Although broad consultations at all levels were organised by Minister Kris Peeters, far-reaching criticisms were uttered from various sides with respect to the upcoming measures.

An important role is reserved to the industrial relations partners in several domains with respect to the further practical elaboration and implementation of the measures, at the inter-sectoral level as well as at the sectoral level. Still, the employers’ federations and the trade unions claim that they have not sufficiently been involved in the development of the new regulations, even more so because some measures have been crossing ongoing consultations within the framework of the National Labour Council.

Also the Council of State has explicitly asked the question with respect to certain measures whether they really are in compliance with the Constitution, decisions of the Constitutional Court and/or European regulations.

Consequently, it is not excluded that a number of stipulations may still be seriously put on the rack.

The statute was adopted by the House of Representatives at the session of 23 February 2017 and is published in the Belgian Official Gazette of 15 March 2017. 

Apart of the opportunity for the industrial relations partners to adopt further implementation measures, a large number of Royal decrees will still be required for the effective implementation of the statute.

The statute applies retroactively as from 1 February 2017.

In this special newsletter, these new regulations in the various domains are further explained. You can get access by simply clicking on the regulation in the list above.

As the publication of the implementation measures of the industrial relations partners at inter-sectoral level and the Royal decrees will progress, the relevant sections will be adjusted and completed.

We wish you a lot of reading pleasure and, of course, for all questions, additional information or assistance, you can count on us.

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Leila Mstoian

Leila Mstoian