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Social elections 2020

Friday 21/08/2020
Sociale verkiezingen 2020

As a result of the COVID crisis, the social elections that would normally have taken place between 11 and 24 May 2020 were suspended and postponed to a later date.

A proposal was submitted for the period from 16 to 29 November 2020, pending a corresponding Royal Decree. The publication dated 22 July has clarified matters and the social elections will now take place between 16 and 29 November 2020

Developments leading up to this decision

The suspension of the procedure took effect from X+35, i.e. the time at which the candidate lists had to be submitted. The suspension of the procedure could only be communicated if there were no candidates for any of the lists. The names of the candidates for the social elections were not yet communicated. They will be conveyed at the latest on X+40. 

What does this actually mean

Employers will have to resume the election procedure on the new day X+36, which is determined by the new day Y. The latter is not freely determined, but automatically follows on from the original day Y.

In principle, the chosen time schedule will also be maintained. The original time schedule and new day Y can only be updated subject to approval from the Committee for Prevention and Protection at Work (CPPW) or the Works Council (WC). 

The new election dates are highlighted below.

New social election dates

If the social elections were to take place originally on 19 May, the new date would consequently be 24 November, in which case the employer must restart the procedure as from 1 October.

Initial communications

No later than 7 days before the resumption date, the new day Y and the new electoral calendar will have to be communicated to employees by the current CPPW or WC or by the employer. These updates must be communicated internally and externally. A new model form has been developed specifically for this purpose.

The next communication will take place on X+40 and relates to the posting of the lists of candidates at company premises and the agreement pertaining to the (deputy) chairperson. 

What about redundancy protection

What is important is that there will be a new ‘information as yet undisclosed’ protection period to safeguard the candidates who will replace the (already known) current candidates on the candidate lists. This replacement is still possible in a number of specific cases, e.g. in the event of withdrawal of candidacy or a candidate’s resignation, until X+76 at the latest. 

Potential replacements shall qualify for redundancy protection commencing 36 days before the resumption of the election period, i.e. on the new day X. The ‘information as yet undisclosed’ period shall terminate at the latest on day X+76, i.e. when the replacements are known.

As of the new day X, all employees will again be protected against redundancy if necessary. This new day X will take effect from 18 August 2020. Although the likelihood of candidates still being replaced is fairly small, it is important to take this into account!

The following is an overview of the start and end dates of the new ‘information as yet undisclosed’ protection period

Redundancy protection period

Option to still vote electronically

In principle, the decision to switch to electronic voting should have been made no later than day X. As a result of the COVID crisis, it was noted that many companies wanted to switch to electronic voting. The law dated 15 July 2020 stipulates that an agreement on electronic voting can still be concluded from the new date X+36 until the new date X+56 at the latest. 

In principle, only companies with a Works Council, CPPW or trade union delegation were entitled to decide to organise an electronic vote. The law now stipulates that employers must conclude an agreement with any representative trade union organisations that have put forward candidates. In effect, this means that companies without consultative bodies will also be able to conclude an agreement concerning electronic voting.

The consultative body or employer must immediately post a rectification concerning the electronic voting item in the message on day X at the company premises. This rectification must also be notified to the trade unions and the FPS (via upload on the web application or by post).

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Saskia Lombaerts
Saskia Lombaerts
Director Tax & Legal