Our country has a new federal government, and that includes a new federal government agreement.
In order to rebuild our country after the COVID-19 crisis, the new federal government will make job creation a priority. Work will be rewarded more than ever, as an employment rate of 80% is targeted by 2030. After all, the government believes that a quality job offers the best social protection and is an important source of emancipation.
Below you can find a summary of the social measures from the federal government agreement of 29 September 2020
The work-life balance in times of corona
As an alternative to the corona parental leave, parents of school-age children, children in crèches and children with disabilities in a facility will be entitled to temporary unemployment for reasons of force majeure on the basis of a specific quarantine certificate when they can only be accommodated at home because of COVID-19. This certificate serves to give these parents access to the system of temporary unemployment because of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 crisis led to the massive use of homeworking, which in many cases led to a completely different organisation of working time. There is a strong demand from employers and employees to be able to continue this way of working. The government will therefore, in consultation with the social partners, lay down the conditions under which derogations to standard working hours and working time can be introduced for companies with a trade union delegation or which organise social elections, while ensuring the protection of workers and respecting working time legislation.
The various parental leave systems will be reformed and optimised in order to allow a more balanced distribution between men and women in the care of children. Maternity leave, for example, will be gradually extended from 10 to 20 days.
Promoting employment and entrepreneurship
Reintegration procedures will be simplified and streamlined so that more workers can start and successfully complete a reintegration process (more quickly).
The government will encourage employers and employees to use longer periods of temporary unemployment to undertake training.
An individual training account will be introduced, which can be used throughout one's career. The aim is to ensure that each FTE is entitled to an average of 5 training days (or the corresponding number of hours) per year. The government's ambition is to establish an individual right to training for each employee before the end of the legislature. Companies with fewer than 10 employees and companies with fewer than 20 employees will continue to be covered, mutatis mutandis, by the systems of exceptions or derogations.
The exemption from employers' contributions for the recruitment of the first employee will be extended beyond 2020.
Fiscal and parafiscal measures will be taken to increase the purchasing power of workers, which will also further reduce the burden on labour. At the same time, the government is announcing a gradual shift from alternative forms of remuneration to cash remuneration.
Consideration will be given to how workers who find themselves in structural temporary unemployment can temporarily work for another employer.
All new commercial vehicles must be carbon neutral by 2026. The government will draw up a framework whereby employees who are not entitled to a company car can be granted a mobility budget by their employer. In this way, sustainable mobility alternatives (public transport, bicycles, carbon neutral cars, etc.) will be encouraged.
The government would bring the current differences between the different systems of employees, self-employed and official closer together, while respecting acquired rights. The necessary measures will be worked out by the end of 2021.
The fight against social dumping and social fraud will be stepped up.
The minimum pension for both salaried and self-employed workers will be gradually increased to EUR 1500 net per month for a full career of 45 years. In case of incomplete careers, this amount will be reduced pro rata by the difference between 45 years and the career.
Measures will be taken on end-of-career arrangements (including part-time retirement) in order to increase the effective career length of employees.
Thanks to a pension bonus, people who work longer will also build up more pension. You start building up this bonus as soon as you meet the conditions for taking an early pension.
The social partners should consider how each worker can be covered by a supplementary pension plan with a contribution of at least 3% of gross pay.
Do you have any questions regarding this topic? Please do not hesitate to contact one of our Social Legal experts or your regular BDO contact.