New Collective Labour Agreement on teleworking during the Covid-19 pandemic
01 February 2021
Everyone is well aware that in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Belgian authorities have strongly recommended teleworking or have even made it compulsory.
After almost a year, on 26 January 2021, the social partners in the National Labour Council signed a new Collective Labour Agreement No.149 on recommended or compulsory teleworking due to the coronavirus crisis.
This CLA is valid until 31 December 2021. It obliges employers who have not yet done so to put in place a framework for telework and clarifies the rules to be put in place.
Below are the most important elements of this new CLA.
The CLA is suppletive: it only applies to companies which, as of 1 January 2021, have not put in place a structural (CLA No. 85) or occasional (law of 5 March 2007) teleworking scheme. Existing teleworking agreements may continue to apply and the implementation of structural teleworking in accordance with CLA No. 85 remains entirely possible.
Equality with workers on company premises
A teleworker benefits from the same working conditions as those applied when employed on the employer's premises and an equivalent workload. If specific working conditions apply, he or she must be informed.
Collective rights are also explicitly addressed: teleworkers have the right to communicate with workers' representatives and vice versa. The CLA provides that the representatives must be given the necessary facilities to be able to communicate effectively with teleworkers.
Equipment and costs
The equipment (e.g. a laptop) and the necessary technical assistance must be provided by the employer. Otherwise, the employer must bear the costs of installing the computer software, the costs of use, operation, maintenance and depreciation. Additional connection costs (telephone, internet) are also covered, but the CLA only stipulates that the employer's contribution to these costs must be agreed upon.
Agreements must be made on the equipment and costs of telework. In addition to these minimum requirements, the CLA requires consultation and, insofar as possible, agreement with the employees on important issues such as working hours, monitoring of the results to be achieved, evaluation criteria, and the periods during which the teleworker must be reachable. These are minimum points. Employers are of course free to make more extensive agreements.
The agreed telework arrangements can be included in a collective labour agreement, in the work regulations, in an individual agreement or in an internal policy.
Well-being at work
Last but not least, the CLA addresses the policy of well-being at work specifically related to teleworking. Apart from the obligation to inform the teleworker about preventive measures (workstation setup, proper use of displays/screens, etc.), the CLA includes the obligation to maintain the teleworker's ties with his or her colleagues and with the company, to prevent isolation.
How can BDO help you?
BDO can help and advise you on setting up a teleworking framework within your company.
Should you have questions regarding CLA No. 149, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts in Social Legal: