Maximum notice period of 13 weeks for employee termination
Due to the amended transitional provisions in the Act concerning the single employment status, the notice period of employees employed before 1 January 2014 will no longer be calculated in two parts if they resign. The notice period will be determined based on the harmonised notice periods with a maximum of 13 weeks.
The cap of 13 weeks will thus apply to all categories of workers employed before 1 January 2014. Other interpretations for blue-collar workers will be avoided. Higher level white-collar workers are also explicitly subjected to this maximum. Higher level white-collar workers are white-collar workers whose annual gross salary exceeds €32,254 on 31 December 2013. The National Labour Council gave a positive opinion on this amendment, stating that it would improve legal certainty.
Since employees with an employment agreement concluded before 1 January 2014, by definition have a seniority of 8 years, the maximum notice period of 13 weeks has been reached.
Deletion of deviating dismissal rules regarding higher level white-collar workers
One of the transitional provisions of the Act concerning the single employment status, more specifically the third paragraph of section 68, states that seniority of senior white-collar workers up to 31 December 2013 (part 1 of the notice period) entitles them to a fixed notice period of one month per started year of seniority in case of termination by the employer, with a minimum of three months.
Following a comment by the Council of State, the legislator also deleted this third paragraph of article 68 in the final legal text to respond to recent case law of the Constitutional Court. The opinion of the National Labour Council was no longer sought.
This deletion would, strictly speaking, mean that part 1 of the notice period of senior white-collar workers would no longer be determined on a flat-rate basis and that the old rules would "revive". This could give rise to new discussions regarding the notice period to be observed for this category.
In view of this unintended consequence, this deletion will be rectified to by an act holding miscellaneous provisions. A draft act is currently submitted to the Council of State for advice and may be debated in the Parliament from September. We will keep you informed.
Entry into force of the new rules
At the request of the National Labour Council, a reasonable deadline for entry into force was set. Indeed, the amendments will only enter into force six months after their publication in the Belgian Official Gazette, i.e. on 28 October 2023. The law does clarify that notices served before the entry into force of the law will continue to have all their effects.
Do not hesitate to contact the Employment & Benefits team. We will gladly assist you!