Belgium – Social Elections 2016: Clock Is Ticking (Part 4)

The procedure regarding social elections to designate the members of the works council (WC) and/or committee for the prevention and protection on the work floor (CPPW) is under way (See, VBB on Belgian Business Law, Volume 2015, No. 10, p. 16; Volume 2015, No. 11, p. 16; and Volume 2016, No. 3, p. 8, available at www.vbb.com ).

The elections (day Y or X+90) will take place between 9 May 2016 and 22 May 2016, depending on the choice of the company. However, if no lists of candidates are filed, if the candidatures are withdrawn or the candidatures are declared null and void by the labour court, the procedure regarding the social elections will be discontinued and no social elections will take place.

The day after the (last) election day (Y+1) the president of the polling station provides all documents (such as polling cards) related to the social elections to the employer in a sealed envelope and the employer must keep these documents for a period of at least 25 days. In case of an appeal regarding the elections, these documents should be handed over to the competent labour court. Only after this term or after a final court decision, the polling cards may be destroyed.

On day Y+2 the results of the elections will be posted, together with an overview of the elected members in the WC and/or CPPW and the composition of these bodies. This notification should be posted until the 84th day following the elections.

Within a term of 13 days after the posting of the results (Y+15), the employer, employees or concerned trade union may file an appeal before the competent labour court and request the total or partial annulment of the elections or the decision to stop the procedure or request a correction of the results of the elections. The labour court must hand down a judgment within 67 days (Y+69) following the posting of the results of the elections.

Parties may lodge an appeal against the decision of the labour court within 15 days (Y+84) after the judgment. The competent labour court of appeals must hand down its judgment within 75 days (Y+144) following the judgment of the labour court.

Within a period of 30 days after the expiration of the date on which an appeal could be filed or within 30 days after a judgment confirming the validity of the elections, a first meeting (installation meeting) of the WC and/or CPPW should be held. The internal rules of the company may provide for a shorter term.

During the installation meeting, the composition of the WC and/or CPPW is confirmed, the secretary and president are appointed and the internal rules are drafted.

The internal rules should contain mandatory provisions (e.g. task of the president and secretary and their replacement, terms governing the approval of the meeting notes and distribution of the notes, information to the employees, etc.) but will also contain useful non-mandatory provisions (e.g. place and date of the meetings, rules regarding preparatory meetings, etc.). The internal rules will also set out how the WC and/or CPPW will operate (decision making process, place, timing and organisation of meetings, etc.).