There will be some important measures for businesses:
- 4-day work week
- Variable working weeks
- Increase in the minimum notice period for flexitime
- Individual right to training
- Increasing the employability of redundant workers
- Right to disconnect
- Platform economy.
4-day work week and variable work weeks
In line with the previous 'Peeters' labour law reform, the government wants to enable workers to better reconcile private and professional life by offering them more flexibility in the organisation of their working time.
It would henceforth be possible to work a normal full-time working week over a reduced period of 4 days (instead of 5). Where the working week exceeds 38 hours, the switch to a 4-day working week will have to be made via a collective labour agreement.
The reform also provides for the introduction of an alternating weekly working time regime (on a 2-week cycle).
This scheme would allow the worker to reduce his or her working time one week and increase it the following week. This measure would, for example, allow separated parents to better organise themselves in the event of alternating custody of their children.
These schemes would be voluntary, and therefore at the worker's choice. Like the voluntary overtime scheme, an agreement would have to be concluded between the worker and the employer, which could only cover a period of 6 months (renewable).
If hours are adjusted in this way, overtime would be prohibited. This is justified by the purpose of the new measures (work-life balance).
Increase in the deadline for communicating flex-time
Currently, part-time workers working flexible working hours must receive the applicable flex-time at least 5 working days in advance (with the possibility of a different period at sector level).
The reform provides for an increase in this minimum communication period, so that the applicable flexitime will have to be communicated to workers earlier.
Individual right to training
Workers would henceforth have an individual right to training (3 days per year from 2022, 4 days from 2023, 5 days from 2024), without distinction based on age, gender or level of initial training.
The 5 annual days of training per year will be calculated in hours (and not days) in order to make the measure more effective, especially when a training course does not last a whole day.
Increasing the employability of redundant workers
There have been several attempts in recent years to increase the employability of redundant workers.
As part of this reform, the government wants to give dismissed workers the opportunity to follow a transitional route by serving their notice period with another employer.
During their notice period, workers could also benefit from other measures aimed at enhancing their employability, including the possibility of undergoing training, taking a skills assessment, developing skills that will be useful for a future job, etc.
Right to disconnect
A few months ago, a right to disconnect was established for federal civil servants. The government also intends to enshrine it in the private sector.
Since a 2018 law, private sector employers have already been required to organise a consultation within the Committees for prevention and protection at work (CPPT/CPBW) on the subject of disconnection from work. The government is going further than that, because in companies with 20 or more employees, the modalities of this right will have to be regulated in a collective bargaining agreement concluded within the company or, in its absence, in the labor regulations.
In order to strengthen the supervision and protection of platform workers, they will be covered against accidents at work at the expense of the platform, even if they are self-employed.
In addition, the reform provides for the introduction of criteria aimed at creating legal certainty as to the determination of the nature of the worker's employment relationship (employee or self-employed) vis-à-vis a commissioning platform. These new criteria would be specific and applicable in the case of work via a commissioning platform. When a certain number of criteria are met, the employment relationship with the platform would be presumed, until proven otherwise, to be performed under the terms of an employment contract.
The preliminary draft bill containing the jobs deal has been adopted. However, there are still steps to be taken before the law can be enacted. BDO will follow when and how the employment deal will be applicable to companies.