With the dates set for Belgium’s next social elections, it’s time for businesses to begin their preparations.

In April 2019, Belgian’s Official Gazette announced the 2020 Social Elections Act, which set the dates for the country’s next round of social elections. In more detail, the social elections will run from 11 May 2020 to 24 May 2020 but, to prepare for the vote, employers must complete a series of administrative procedures.

Make sure your business is ready for its social elections with our list of FAQs for the 2020 process.

What Are Social Elections?

Belgium’s social elections are held to elect staff representatives to their respective Works Council (WC) and Committee for Prevention and Protection at Work (CPPW). Both the WC and the CPPW are social bodies with the responsibility to manage health and safety and similar concerns in the workplace.

Social elections in Belgium take place every 4 years and are required for both for-profit and non-profit organisations. In the run-up to the election dates, businesses must meet a number of preparatory obligations and organise the voting process for their employees.

Who Has to Hold Social Elections?

Not every business in Belgium has to hold social elections. The number of people a business employs determines what type of election it must organise:

  • CPPW elections take place in businesses with an average headcount of 50 employees.
  • WC elections take place in businesses with an average headcount of 100 employees (in addition to CPPW elections).

Businesses with less than 50 employees do not need to hold social elections.

What Does ‘Average Headcount’ Mean?

The average headcount is calculated by tracking the total number of employees registered to work for their business during the reference period prior to the social election. For the 2020 social elections that reference period is 1 October 2018 to 30 September 2019.

Not all employees are factored in to the average headcount calculation:

Employees who are eligible for the headcount:

  • All employees with an employment contract
  • Employees on long-term sick leave, thematic leave, or unpaid leave
  • Trainees or vocational trainee employees
  • Agency employees (using a different counting method)

Employees who are not eligible for the headcount are:

  • Employees without employment agreements (e.g. self-employed workers)
  • Employees with replacement agreements
  • Workers with a professional immersion contract
  • Employees working as part of an unemployment scheme
  • Temporary agency employees who replace absent employees

How is the Average Headcount Calculated?

The formula for establishing average headcount is:

  • Number of days each permanent employee has been registered at the company - from 1 October 2018 to 30 September 2019

Divided by,

365 (or 730 if the employee worked less than 75% of a full-time role)

For temporary workers, the formula is slightly different:

  • Number of days each employee has worked at the company from 1 April 2019 to 30 June 2019

Divided by,

92 (or 184 if the employee worked less than 75% of a full-time role)

What Do Employers Need to Do Now?

In addition to the headcount calculation, employers are responsible for organising their social elections and must conduct an appropriate pre-election procedure to establish which employees will stand as candidates. Since the election period is set for May 2020, the pre-election procedure should begin in December 2019 and last until March 2020.

The pre-election procedure must be launched by a written communication from employers to their employees. The communication should contain the dates of the social elections, along with other information such as the names of employees holding socially-elected positions. The Belgian government has made a form available online which employers should complete in order to issue their written communication.

For more information on Belgium’s employment regulations, click here for activpayroll’s Global Insight Guide to Belgium.

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