Social elections in 2012:
start preparations in due time
in order to avoid surprises!

In the course of the month of May next year social elections will again be organized for the election of the representatives of the personnel at the works’ council and the committee of prevention and protection at the workplace.

Companies, employing on average 50 employees in 2011, will have to start up the procedure for the organization of the social elections.

Maybe it still seems to be far away, but that is not the case: the procedure takes approximately 150 days and the first steps have to be taken in the course of the month of December this year. Moreover, strategic decisions, to be taken well beforehand, may be required or useful, as the case may be, in view of determining the composition of the “technical exploitation unit”, the level at which the social elections are organized.

The procedure for the practical organization of the elections is largely inspired on the procedure for the communal elections and strictly respecting the delays – some of which are quite short – is extremely important for a good end. Errors in the course of the election procedure mostly result in the annulment of the elections, with, as a consequence for the employer, the obligation to restart the election procedure, causing not only extra expenses for the employer, but also the risk of an adverse effect on a quiet and easy atmosphere within the company.

The protection against layoff, applicable to the workers, who are presented as candidates for the elections – also if they have not been elected –, is very strict and the employer who does not respect the protection, is facing payment of very high protection indemnities, equal to twice, even several times, the amount of the annual remuneration. One of the most difficult problems to handle in this context results from the fact that the protection period commences approximately two months before one knows who of the personnel members will be presented as candidates (the “occult protection period”). This means in fact that virtually all employees are protected during this period. A timely and fundamental analysis of the workforce is, beyond any doubt, a “must” for each employer in order to avoid problems as a result of this occult protection period.

For all your questions or additional information, please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned.

15 june 2011

Marcel Houben