Whenever a staff delegation is set up, employers are required to:
- inform them, after their first constituent meeting, about:
- the structure of the business and its ties to other businesses, where applicable;
- the foreseeable economic development;
- the employment structure;
- the vocational training policy in terms of health and safety at work;
- equal treatment company policy;
- periodically inform them about the business's activities, its life and about environmental health and safety issues;
- inform and consult with the staff delegation on the organisation of work and employment issues, etc.
- provide them, at least once a year, with a business activity report if the company employed less than 150 employees during the 12 months which preceded the first day of the posting of the announcement of elections.
Who is concerned
Employers can appoint one of their employees to act as their representative during the meetings with the staff delegation.
The main tasks of staff representatives (as long as they do not fall under the responsibility of the joint works committee, if such exists, until the next social elections) are to protect and defend the interests of the employees with regard to:
- working conditions;
- job security;
- the social status.
Internal and external consultants
In order to support them in their tasks, the staff representatives can have internal or external consultants take part in the meetings of the staff delegation in an advisory capacity provided that the business employed at least 51 people during the 12 months preceding the first day of the posting of the announcement of elections.
The intervention of internal or external consultants is allowed provided that it has been requested by the majority of staff representatives and that the number of consultants does not exceed one third of the members of the staff delegation.
The right to propose consultants
The trade unions also have the right to propose consultants in businesses with 51 to 150 employees during the 12 months preceding the first day of the posting of the announcement of elections.
The trade unions have a valid right to propose consultants provided that said unions:
- are representative at a national or sector level;
- and that their members represent at least one third of the regular members in the staff delegation.
However, the trade unions can only propose one consultant each, provided that they:
- are representative at a national or sector level and;
- and that their members represented at least 20 % of the staff representatives during the last social elections.
This right applies in businesses with more than 150 employees during the 12 months preceding the first day of the posting of the announcement of elections.
The staff delegation then appoints the consultants who are entitled to participate in the meetings of the staff delegation.
Appointment of external experts
The staff delegation may also decide to appoint an external expert if they believe that the subject under discussion is decisive for the company or its employees.
Joint evaluation by an employer's association and a trade union
In businesses with a staff delegation, the staff delegation or the business manager can request that the raised issues are jointly discussed by:
- a representative trade union at a national or sector level;
- an employer's professional association.
How to proceed
The law defines the word "information" as the transmission of data to the staff delegation in order to allow them to be informed about the topic addressed and to examine it. The transmission must be done by the employer at a given moment, in a way and with the appropriate content which will allow the staff delegation to properly examine the information and to prepare the consultation, where applicable.
The law defines the word "consultation" as the exchange of views and the establishment of a dialogue between the staff and the employer. This exchange will take place at a given moment, with the means and appropriate content, based on the information provided by the employer and the staff delegation's opinion which they are allowed to express. The exchange should enable:
- the staff delegation to meet with the employer;
- to obtain a reasoned response to each opinion issued by the staff delegation, namely with a view to reach an agreement on the decisions which fall under the authority of employers.
The employer must provide the staff delegation with the necessary information and data to allow them to properly analyse the topics detailed hereafter.
Business life and operation
Employers have to inform the staff delegation about the life and operation of the business and on the current and future development of its activities and economic situation.
This information must be disclosed:
- on a monthly basis to the staff delegation in businesses with at least 150 employees;
- at least 3 times a year during the meetings with the staff delegation in businesses with less than 150 employees during the 12 months preceding the first day of the posting of the announcement of elections;
- or upon request from the staff delegation.
Health and safety risks
Employers have to inform the staff delegation and the safety officers about every issue concerning:
- the risks to the safety and health as well as the protective and preventive measures concerning the business in general, the workplaces and various positions.
- the protective measures to be implemented and where necessary the protective gear to be used.
- the evolution of absence rates.
Employers must also provide this information to employers whose staff has been outsourced to the business in question. These employers, in turn, must communicate this information to their staff delegation.
Economic and financial development of the business
Employers are under the obligation to inform the staff delegation:
- of the economic and financial development;
- of recent and future business activities.
This obligation applies to businesses with less than 150 employees during the 12 months preceding the first day of the posting of the announcement of elections.
Working and employment conditions
Employers are under the obligation to inform and consult with the staff delegation in matters of working conditions. To that end, the staff delegation has to:
- propose changes to internal regulations in businesses with more than 100 staff;
- participate in the training of apprentices in the business and in the management of training centres where applicable;
- collaborate in the establishment and implementation of initial vocational training schemes and of apprenticeships in particular;
- promote the integration of disabled workers whether due to accidents or not and create appropriate workplaces adapted to the physical and intellectual capacity of the disabled workers;
- participate in the implementation of policies on anti-harassment and the prevention of violence in the workplace;
- participate in the management of measures for young people and guide the employer in all questions concerning working conditions and the protection of young salaried workers;
- collaborate in matters that pertain to internal redeployment;
- promote the reconciliation of professional and family life.
The staff delegation must, in particular, give its opinion and make proposals to all questions regarding the improvement of working conditions, of employment and the social situation of employees in the business.
Moreover, the staff delegation must give its opinion on:
- the preparation or modification of the business's internal regulations. They have to strictly monitor the implementation of these regulations;
- prior to any decision, the introduction, modification or cancellation of a supplementary pension scheme;
- all questions concerning the working times;
- all continuing vocational training plans.
With regard to the below topics, employers must make sure to:
- provide the staff delegation with relevant information and data in due time to allow them to prepare for the consultation and to give their opinion;
- establish a dialogue with the staff delegation in order to:
- provide a motivated response to any opinion issued by the staff delegation;
- reach an agreement, where applicable, on the decisions to be taken.
Status, structure and development of jobs and employment
Employers must inform and consult with the staff delegation and the equal opportunities officer in matters regarding the status, structure and expected development of jobs within the business and the protective measures planned where jobs would be at stake.
They must provide the staff delegation and the equal opportunities officer with a half-yearly statistical report broken down by gender on the following topics:
Organisation of work
Employers must inform and consult with the staff delegation on decisions which are likely to impact the work planning, especially if they intend to:
Employers must inform and consult with the staff delegation if they are planning to make changes to employment contracts, especially if they intend to:
- create part-time jobs;
- change the legal form of the company (i.e. business transfer, merger, demerger, etc.);
- make collective redundancies;
- resort to the use of temporary workers.
Employers must inform and consult with the staff delegation and the equal opportunities officer for every employment support contract (contrat d'appui emploi - CAE) or employment initiation contract (contrat d'initiation à l'emploi - CIE) in the company.
Management of social support measures
Employers are required to inform and consult with the staff delegation in matters of social support measures for employees and their families, including measures which aim to ensure or help find accommodation for employees.
To that end, the employer must provide a management report to the staff delegation at least once a year.
If the staff is financially contributing to these social measures, the management report has to be formally approved by the staff delegation.
Employers can refuse to communicate information or to meet if those meetings:
- seriously disturb the operation, management or future of the business;
- are harmful;
- or compromise a business operation.
If the members of the staff delegation believe that they have not received enough information to fulfil their tasks, they can request additional information from their employer.
Specificities for businesses with at least 150 employees during the 12 months which preceded the first day of the posting of the announcement of elections
It should be noted that joint works committees (also "joint works councils") will cease to exist after the social elections which take place after 1 January 2016. As from these elections, the tasks and duties assigned to joint works committees will be transferred to the staff delegations in companies with at least 150 staff during the 12 months preceding the first day of the posting of the announcement of elections.
Until these elections, the joint works committees in place on 1 January 2016 will remain in office and continue to carry out their tasks.
Information and consultation concerning technical, economic and financial issues
Facilities and equipment
Business managers have to inform and consult with the staff delegation before taking any important decision regarding:
- the construction, transformation or extension of production or management facilities;
- the introduction, improvement, renewal or transformation of equipment;
- the introduction, improvement, renewal or transformation of working methods, manufacturing processes with the exception of manufacturing secrets.
Employers are required to inform the staff delegation about the impact of the measures listed above and about the working conditions and environment.
Manpower needs and training requirements
The business manager must inform and consult with the staff delegation at least once a year on:
- current and forecasted manpower needs in the company;
- the measures that might be taken for the business staff, namely in terms of:
- advanced training;
- vocational retraining.
Economic or financial decisions which may have a decisive impact on the business structure or employment level
Employers have to inform and consult with the staff delegation about any economic or financial decision which might have a decisive impact on the business structure or employment level, i.e.:
- the production and sales volume;
- the production planning and orientation;
- the investment policy;
- possible plans to stop or transfer all or part of the business;
- projects concerning the restriction or extension of business activities;
- projects concerning the merger of companies;
- planned changes in the business organisation;
- the introduction, modification or cancellation of a supplementary pension scheme.
Information and consultation must also include:
- the impact of the planned measures on the volume and structure of the staff;
- the working and employment conditions of the staff.
- the social measures, namely training and retraining measures taken or planned by the business manager.
Information and consultation must in principle take place before the decision is made, unless there is a risk that it might:
- disturb all or part of business operations;
- or compromise a planned business project.
In this case, employers must provide the necessary information and explanations to the staff delegation within 3 days.
Economic and financial development of the business
Employers have to inform and consult with the staff delegation in writing, at least twice a year, on the business's economic and financial development.
To that end, they have to provide the staff delegation with a global report on:
- the business activity;
- the annual turnover;
- global production and operating results;
- client orders;
- the evolution of salary structures and wage bills;
- realised investments.
Information and consultation in joint stock companies, non-profit associations, cooperatives or foundations
The business management is required to communicate the following information to the staff delegation before presenting it at the general shareholder meeting or to the decision-making bodies:
- the profit and loss accounts;
- the annual balance sheet;
- the internal auditor's report;
- where applicable, the report of the board of directors or the management report;
- as well as any other document presented to the general meeting of shareholders or the management body.
Differences between the staff delegation and the business manager
Where differences occur during the consultation between the business manager and the staff delegation in businesses established as joint stock companies, these differences have to be communicated to:
- the board of directors;
- or where applicable, the managing director(s).
If the business is not established as a joint stock company, the positions of the parties must be brought to the attention of the business manager if he/she has not participated in the deliberations.
In any case, the business manager, the board of directors, the management organ or the managing director are required to account for the decisions taken after the positions have been expressed.
Limited participation in the decision-making process of the business
Employers and their staff delegation must meet at least once each quarter in order to reach an agreement on the following subjects:
- introduction or application of technical installations for the purpose of monitoring the staff's conduct and performance in the workplace;
- introduction or modification of measures concerning the health and safety of staff as well as prevention of occupational illnesses;
- establishment or modification of the general criteria concerning the selection of persons with regard to recruitment, promotion, transfer, dismissal and, where applicable, priority criteria for early retirement;
- establishment and implementation of collective programmes or undertakings regarding continuing vocational training;
- establishment or modification of general criteria for the appraisal of staff;
- the preparation or modification of the internal regulations in accordance with the collective agreement in force, where applicable;
- the granting of awards to the staff who, through their initiatives or suggestions for technical improvements, have made a particularly useful contribution to the business, without prejudice to the laws and regulations on patents and inventions.
Where the parties do not reach an agreement on the decisions to take, the staff delegation gives mandate to the staff delegation's office to lead the negotiations and to come to an agreement with the employer.
The staff delegation's office has the following members:
- 1 member where the delegation has at least 8 members;
- 2 members where the delegation has at least 10 members;
- 3 members where the delegation has at least 12 members;
- 4 members where the delegation has at least 14 members;
Moreover, the number of members of the office will increase in proportion to the votes received by at least one staff representative who is on each list represented by the staff delegation but not by the office.
The office can be assisted by 4 internal or external consultants at the most, where at least one is appointed by each trade union who is representative on a national or sector level and who received at least 20 % of the elected representatives during the last elections.
Within 48 hours, the office must inform the staff delegation about the joint decision.
The staff delegation has 48 hours from this communication to submit a duly motivated request asking for the renegotiation of one or more issues still to be resolved.