Electronic signature of collective bargaining agreements

From now on, it will be possible to have collective bargaining agreements signed by means of a qualified electronic signature. This possibility also applies to other acts such as the termination of and accession to an agreement.

On 3 July 2020, Special Powers Royal Decree no. 37 was published in the Belgian State Gazette. This decree concerns measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

This Decree makes it possible from now on to sign collective bargaining agreements by means of qualified electronic signature (e.g., the electronic signature created with the electronic identity card). Now, both the electronic signature authenticated with an electronic identity card and the original written “wet” signature are valid for signing a collective bargaining agreement.

This possibility applies both to the signing of collective bargaining agreements concluded at sectoral level (in joint committees) and to the signing of company CBAs.

It is not only possible to sign CBAs electronically; acceding to or terminating collective bargaining agreements can now also be carried out by means of a document signed with a qualified electronic signature.

In this context, it should be noted that this assimilation of the qualified electronic signature with the so-called “wet” signature is merely a formal clarification and confirmation of an existing legal fact. On the basis of the European regulations, these two forms of signature have already been considered equivalent for some time.

The Decree further clarifies that in the case of a qualified electronic signature, the date of the collective bargaining agreement will always be the date indicated in the agreement, irrespective of when the signatories actually placed their electronic signatures.

These provisions have effect from 1 March 2020 and apply for an indefinite period. Therefore, this possibility will be maintained even after the COVID-19 period.