On March 30th, the Act of March 26th regarding the strengthening of economic growth and social cohesion was published in the Belgian Official Gazette. This Act contains a multitude of changes in different fields among which the adjustment of the notice periods that are applicable when an employer terminates the employment agreement of an employee during the first 6 months of seniority.
Old versus new
The notice periods to be observed by the employer when terminating the employment agreement of an employee during the first 6 months of seniority are the following:
|Seniority||Former notice periods||Notice periods as from May 1st|
|0 < 3 months||2 weeks||1 week|
|3 < 4 months||4 weeks||3 weeks|
|4 < 5 months||4 weeks||4 weeks|
|5 < 6 months||4 weeks||5 weeks|
Entry into force
The above adjusted notice periods entered into force as from May 1st, meaning that these newly adjusted notice periods are applicable to terminations of employment agreements that are notified as from said date. For terminations that were notified to employees before May 1st, the old notice periods continue to be applicable.
The notice periods that are applicable within a company need to be mentioned in the work regulations. In this respect, two scenarios are possible:
- If the work regulations merely refer to the notice periods as laid down in the Employment Agreement Act, no action needs to be taken;
- If however the work regulations explicitly detail which notice periods are applicable, it will be important to adjust the work regulations in order to reflect the above-mentioned changes.
Note that the specific procedure that is in place when changing the work regulations is not applicable in this case, i.e. when merely adjusting its provisions regarding the notice periods applicable within the company. However, the employer still has to provide its employees with a copy of the adjusted work regulations, as well as send such copy to the Social Inspectorate Services within 8 days following the entry into force of the altered work regulations.