An inter-professional agreement ("IPA") for 2011-2012, covering all companies and workers in the Belgian private sector, was concluded by negotiators on 18 January 2011. The IPA was subsequently submitted to trade unions and employers' representatives for their approval. However, it was rejected by two trade unions (See this Newsletter, Volume 2011, No. 1, p. 19).
The federal caretaker government has therefore adopted a compromise proposal, based on the original IPA. In a press release issued on 25 February 2011, the Minister for employment, Joëlle Milquet, announced that the government had reached an agreement on legislative measures necessary to implement the compromise proposal.
For instance, the government proposes to maintain the automatic wage indexation. Additional salary increases, which would be limited to 0.3%, may take place from 1 January 2012. The legislative proposals also provide for an increase in general unemployment benefits and benefits for economic unemployment. In particular, as of 1 January 2012, economically unemployed blue collar employees would receive a minimum supplement of EUR 2 per day.
Moreover, the government proposes to maintain the anti-crisis measures concerning crisis-related unemployment of white collar employees and the crisis-premium for dismissed blue collar employees. Existing agreements, e.g., concerning pre-pension schemes, would be renewed.
As a first step in a gradual harmonisation of the rules governing blue collar and white collar employees, the government proposes to implement new dismissal rules, which would apply to employment contracts concluded as from 2012. In particular, white collar employees with an annual gross salary of up to EUR 30,535 in 2011 will have to be paid a fixed severance of three months per commenced period of 5 years' seniority (excluding the trial period) upon termination of their employment contract. The notice period for white collar employees whose annual gross salary exceeds EUR 30,535 in...