Proposed changes to Belgian labour legislation

The draft laws of 6 November 2017, 9 November 2017, and 11 December 2017 aim to modify some aspects of current Belgian labour law regarding supplementary pensions, flexi-jobs, employee bonuses, night work, elderly and part-time workers, labour discrimination and notice periods.

1- Increase in the Wijninckx contribution on supplementary pension contributions

The so-called Wijninckx contribution requires an employer to pay additional taxes of 1.5% if the aggregated contributions paid towards the supplementary pension of an employee exceed EUR 31,839 (indexed amount 2017).

The government has decided to increase the additional tax on the contribution from 1.5% to 3% from 1 January 2018.

2- Flexi-jobs in industrial sectors

The Act of 16 November 2015 already introduced flexi-jobs in the hotel and catering industry. The government has decided to extend this system to other sectors: the food industry, retail, hairdressing and beauty care.

3- The introduction of a “profit premium” (winstpremie/prime bénéficiaire)

The introduction of a profit distribution scheme allows companies to grant to their employees a percentage of their profits as a bonus.

An employer is free to decide whether or not a profit premium will be granted. It can choose to pay either an equal amount to all employees (identical profit premium) or a variable amount per category of employees (categorized profit premium).

A profit premium should never replace another component of an employee’s remuneration, as it is granted “on top” of it. The total amount of the bonus may never exceed 30% of the total yearly remuneration.

4- E-commerce

The legislator decided to facilitate the procedure to introduce night work, in order to support e-commerce in Belgium.

5- The introduction of an “activation contribution” (activatiebijdrage/cotisation d’activation)

This aim of this contribution is to discourage employers from letting older workers stay at home in exchange for accepting a reduced salary.

The amount of this contribution depends on the age of the employee exempted from work. The percentage of the contribution will be maintained until the age of retirement or early retirement.

If the employee is involved in an education or training programme, the law provides for a reduction or exemption in the contribution, and the same applies if the employee restarts employment as an employee or as an independent worker under certain conditions.

6- Introduction of an “accountability contribution” (responsabiliseringsbijdrage/cotisation de responsabilisation) for part-time workers

A part-time worker, entitled to a guaranteed income, has the right to request his/her employer for a full-time job or another part-time job.

The employer is obliged to extend the employment of the part-time employee if there is more work available.

If the employer fails to do so, it may have to pay an accountability contribution of EUR 25 per month for every part-time employee concerned.

7- Burden of proof in case of discrimination 

Social inspectors are empowered with specific competencies with respect to the investigation and establishing of discrimination. In addition, the legislator allows the method of mystery shopping.

8- Period of notice at the start of the employment relationship

During the first 6 months of an employment contract, the legislator reduced the notice periods in case of termination by the employer, according to the seniority of the employee, e.g. providing a notice of only 1 week instead of the current 2 weeks during the first 3 months.

Hilde Possemiers, Associate, Antwerp, hilde.possemiers@cms-db.com
Sofie Kusters, Junior Associate, Antwerp sofie.kusters@cms-db.com