Although we still don’t have a new federal government in Belgium (elections were on 26 May but who’s counting …), we are already heading towards the next vote. Social elections, that is, to appoint the employee representatives in the Health & Safety Committee and Works Council.

In a previous blog [here], we gave some background on the numbers that will determine whether you are required to organise social elections in your company, or on group level. Now the numbers are in and you should know whether you are on the hook.

If you are, you need to start preparing for the first formal steps. You should inform your employees and your current employee representatives in writing no later than the 60th day preceding the posting of the message indicating the date of the elections (X-60). This will be somewhere between 13 December if you organize the elections on 11 May, up to 26 December if you organize the elections on 24 May.

The communication should describe the level at which the elections will be organized, i.e. at the level of the legal entity, or on group level, comprising several legal entities, or inversely, if the legal entity is comprised of several technical business units.

The information should also include:

  • The number of employees per category (white collar, blue collar, managerial staff, young employees);
  • The list of managerial positions and the employees currently holding them (as these employees may not be elected as employee representatives);
  • The list of executive positions and the employees holding them (these employees may, depending on their number, have their own representatives in the works council);
  • The proposed date of the elections (date Y) and the date on which this date will be announced (date X).

The information should be posted on company premises in a template document made available by the Ministry of Employment. The information may also be communicated electronically if all employees have access.

On the same day, all this information should also be sent electronically to the Ministry of Employment, which has developed a special web application for this purpose. The Ministry will in turn send this information to the national trade union organizations.

In the 25 days following this notification, you will be required to consult with the employee representatives on the information that was posted: do they agree with your description of the level at which elections should be organised, and do they agree on the positions to be excluded? On X-25 the decisions are to be posted, at which point the employees and their representatives may go the Employment Tribunal to contest. The Tribunal has 23 days to decide. In a later stage, there may be further appeals before the Employment Tribunal: to contest the voter lists, the number of representatives to be elected and – always an exciting one – the candidacy of individual employees whom the employer deems to not meet the requirements for election.

As you will have grasped, posting the required information on day X – 60 is only the start. It could turn out to be a warm winter this year …..