Social elections 2016
Be aware of the
hidden protection period!
The protection against termination of employment of the workers, who are presented by the trade unions as a
candidate for the social elections, starts to be applicable
prior to the date on which the employer is informed of the names of the workers who will be a candidate: the hidden protection period, which may last as long as 65 days!
The workers, who are presented by the trade unions as a candidate for the social elections, to be organized in 2016 (9 through 22 May), are protected against termination of their employment contract.
They may be laid off only for just cause or for economic or technical reasons, which have to be approved, in principle, prior to the implementation of the lay-off. Furthermore, a strict procedure has to be complied with.
The failure to respect this protection is heavily sanctioned and high indemnities (depending on the time of service, potentially as high as 7 years remuneration) may be due.
The social elections have to be organized during the period 9 through 22 May 2016. The date on which the social elections will be held in a company, must be posted by the employer 90 days ahead. By way of example, if the elections are organized on 9 May 2016, that date must be posted in the company on 9 February 2016.
The list of the candidates must be submitted by the trade unions at the latest the 35th calendar day following this date of posting, that is in our example at the latest on 15 March 2016.
However, the protection of these candidates starts to be applicable as form the 30th calendar day preceding this date of posting, that is in our example as from 10 January 2016.
So, during this period of potentially 65 calendar days, the employer does not know who will be the candidates and consequently who of his employees will be protected. This implies that virtually all the employees are protected, particularly because the lay-off of an employee during that period does not preclude a trade union from presenting that employee subsequently as a candidate.
Consequently, an employer who is considering the lay-off of any of his employees should take the appropriate measures well in advance.
Marcel Houben - firstname.lastname@example.org
Leila Mstoian - email@example.com