On 26 October 2021, the social partners (i.e. the employee - and employer organisations) in the joint committee (JC) no. 200 - the ancillary JC for white-collar workers and the largest JC in the country - reached a draft agreement on employment and wage conditions for the period 2021-2022.
This draft agreement was concluded within the framework of the Interprofessional Agreement (IPA) for 2021-2022 and its provisions still have to be converted into collective bargaining agreements (CBA/CAO/CCT). As a result, the content of the draft agreement - as laid out below - might still be subject to minor changes.
Draft sectoral agreement within JC no. 200
Although, as mentioned above, the finalised texts of the CBAs that will formalise the draft agreement are currently not yet available, we’re already able to discern large parts of the content of the agreement based on the information that is available. Below, we’ll lay out the agreement’s most important provisions.
0.4% increase of wages
The draft agreement provides for the increase of both the sectoral wage scales and the actual gross wages with 0.4% as from 1 December 2021.
If, in the period 2021-2022, a white-collar worker already received/will receive a salary increase based on the company’s own remuneration policy, this increase can be deducted from the required 0.4% increase. However, any salary increase that automatically follows from the application of sectoral or company-level wage scales that are based on professional experience or seniority cannot be deducted in this respect.
In addition, an employer can opt to (partly) convert the required 0.4% increase of the gross wages into an equivalent benefit A benefit is deemed equivalent if the cost for the employer is the same as the cost of the 0.4% increase of the gross salary. An equivalent benefit can be of periodic nature, but can also be a one-off premium attributed in the period 2021-2022. However, the equivalent benefit must be recurring as from 1 January 2023, meaning that it must be continued to be paid from that day onwards.
Undertakings with a trade union delegation that want to introduce an equivalent benefit will have to do so by means of a company-level CBA, undertakings without a trade union will have to inform their employees individually in writing.
One-off corona premium
A one-off corona premium must be granted to the employees within JC no. 200 in undertakings:
- that recorded a profit in the calendar years 2019 and 2020, and
- of which the turnover, or - if the turnover is unavailable -, the gross margin has organically (i.e. without mergers or acquisitions) increased by at least 5%.
If the company’s turnover has increased by at least 5%, a corona premium of EUR 125 will be granted to the company’s white-collar workers and if the turnover increased by at least 10%, a corona premium of EUR 150 will be applicable.
The corona premium will be attributed in the form of consumption vouchers and will have to be paid out on 31 December 2021 at the latest.
Mobility and travel costs
The social partners agreed on an increase of the allowance that is due for white-collar workers who commute by bike: from the current EUR 0.10 per kilometer to EUR 0.20 per kilometer, with a maximum of EUR 8 per workday (which corresponds to a round trip of 40 km), as from 1 July 2022.
In addition, the maximum yearly gross salary for a white-collar worker to be able to benefit from a reimbursement from their employer when commuting by means of their private vehicle will increase. More specifically, this threshold - which is currently set at EUR 27,750 gross/year - will increase to EUR 29,680 gross/year on 1 January 2022.
Other provisions of the draft agreement
In addition to the above discussed items, the draft agreement also contains provisions on the following topics:
- extension of the previous CBA regarding time credit, including the provisions on time credit with motive and the different kinds of end-of-career time credit;
- extension of the different systems of unemployment benefits with company allowances (‘Stelsel van werkloosheid met bedrijfstoeslag’ or ‘Régime de chômage avec complément d’entreprise”);
- extension of the deadline to harmonise the supplementary pension plans for white-collar and blue collar workers to 1 January 2030;
- increase of the days of training to which a white-collar worker is entitled in undertakings that employ between 10 and 20 FTEs (increase to 5 training days in 2022-2023, instead of the currently applicable 4 days) and undertakings that employ more than 20 FTEs (increase to 6 training days in 2022-2023, instead of the currently applicable 5 days).
The above provisions still need to be formalised in CBAs, but companies that fall within the scope of JC no. 200 can already get an indication of what’s in store and can e.g. already start to examine how they’ll implement the required 0.4% gross salary increase and whether they’d like to provide for an equivalent benefit.
If further developments occur within JC no. 200 and in particular regarding the sectoral agreement, be sure to get in touch or check out our website for more information.
Bart Elias, Partner, PwC Legal
Pascale Moreau, Partner, PwC Legal BV/SRL