BEWARE: the hidden protection
period has arrived !

The legislation provides for a very far-reaching protection for the elected members of the WC and the CPPW and the not-elected candidates:
-    first of all, it is provided generally that they can not be discriminated against because of their mandate or candidacy;
-    in addition, particularly with respect to lay-off of elected members of the WC and the CPPW and the not-elected candidates, the legislation provides for a very strict protection: during the protection period they can be laid-off only for just cause or for economic and technical reasons; furthermore, a strict procedure has to be complied with in order to have the reasons invoked approved before the lay-off is implemented: approval of the economic and technical reasons by the competent joint labour-management committee and approval of the just cause by the employment judiciary: failure to comply with the procedure or lay-off in violation of the procedure is sanctioned by very high protection indemnities, equivalent to several years of remuneration.

For all the workers, who will be presented as a candidate for the upcoming social elections, this protection period starts to run as from the thirtieth day preceding the date on which the notice fixing the date of the elections is posted. Consequently, in our assumption, the protection applies as from 8 January 2012 (*). As a result, the protection period commences before the employer knows which workers will be presented as a candidate. Indeed, these candidates can be made public up to sixty-five days later, that is up to the thirty-fifth day following the date of the elections will be posted: in our assumption, on 13 March 2012 (*). Consequently, during these sixty-five days all workers are virtually protected, particularly because a worker, who would have been laid-off in the course of this period of sixty-five days, still can be presented as a candidate and, therefore, the protection applies to him.

Prudence with respect to lay-offs is therefore the message during this period of sixty-five days, that is, in our assumption, as from 8 January 2012 up to 13 march 2012 (*).

Marcel HOUBEN - marcel.houben@peeters-law.be