Federal government to amend notice periods for employment contracts terminated during the first six months

Following the ban on the trial period in 2014, the federal government now plans to further amend the notice periods for the dismissal of employees whose period of employment is less than six months.

According to our information, the federal government is ready to present to Parliament a legislative proposal amending the notice periods to be served when dismissing employees whose period of employment is less than six months.

Since 1 January 2014, employees can no longer be hired subject to a trial period. The banning of the trial period has been strongly criticized by employers because of its adverse effects: employers are more reluctant to hire for an indefinite duration and prefer the use of temporary agency workers.  

To mitigate the adverse effects of the trial period ban, the government now intends to make more gradual the notice periods applicable to the dismissal of employees during the first six months of their employment.

At the moment, in the event of termination by the employer, the notice periods for the first six-month period are as follows ):

  • 0 - ≤ 3 months: 2 weeks
  • 3 - ≤ 6 months: 4 weeks

If the proposal is adopted by Parliament, the notice periods will increase more progressively during the first six-month period:

  • 0 - ≤ 3 months: 1 week
  • 3 - ≤ 4 months: 3 weeks
  • 4 - ≤ 5 months: 4 weeks
  • 5 - ≤ 6 months: 5 weeks

Though the notice period would decrease for employees with less than four months’ service, it would ultimately increase for those whose length of employment is between five and six months (five weeks instead of the current four weeks).

Even if the proposal only provides for minor changes, such modification (if adopted) should – in addition to there being no obligation to state the reasons for termination during the first six months of employment – smooth the dismissal process in the event of an employment mismatch.

The notice periods for resignation of an employee would remain unchanged.

We will keep you posted on the debates and votes on this topic once the proposal is presented before Parliament. 

Loïc Delhaye

Senior Associate, Brussels


Sophie Berg

Partner, Brussels