The 2024 social elections are gradually approaching. In preparation for this, just like every four years, legislation on social elections is being amended. The law was published in the Belgian Official Gazette on 30 June. Some specific changes are on the way, but the broad outlines of the electoral procedure remain the same as in the previous elections in 2020. Which changes stand out the most? Read about it in this blog.
The bill ratifies the National Labour Council’s proposal: the 2024 social elections will take place in the period from 13 May 2024 to 26 May 2024.
Since the 2020 social elections, agency workers can pull up to the ballot box at the user if they have performed enough days at that user.
In 2020, this had to be looked at over two reference periods, leading to much ambiguity and discussion. The draft law simplifies this seniority requirement for the May 2024 elections: temporary workers will be granted voting rights with the user if they have worked, with or without interruption, at least 32 effective working days with that user during the period from 1 November 2023 to 31 January 2024.
Another new feature is that the bill regulates what personal data the user may request from the agency at what time in connection with voting rights for temporary workers. Indeed, there were many questions regarding this in 2020 in light of the GDPR. The user will need to request the personal data of agency workers from the agency at various stages. Thus, in each case, the transfer of personal data is limited to what is necessary for the procedure.
For example: only if there is an agreement to conduct the voting electronically, the user may request the email address and national registration number of the temporary workers from the temporary office, but only to the extent that this data is necessary for voter authentication. The user must then retrieve it within five calendar days of the message of day "X" .
Calling on voters to vote is an important step in the electoral process. This convocation should be timely and correct so that every voter is aware of the upcoming elections and knows how and when to vote.
Previous editions of social elections used a cascade system. First, the call letters had to be distributed within the company. Employees who were not present then could receive their letter by other means, such as e-mail with acknowledgement of receipt. In principle, if the employer did not receive an acknowledgement of receipt, it had to send the notice by registered mail at the latest eight days before election day.
The draft law nuances the first step of this cascade: it will be possible to skip the phase of handing over to the workers present and immediately make the convocation by other means, such as email.
However, there are some conditions attached to this. First, for this purpose at the latest on day "X" requires unanimous agreement within the works council or the Committee for Prevention and Protection at Work. If there is no council or committee, a unanimous agreement is needed between the employer and the union delegation. Furthermore, the following conditions must be met:
Another major adjustment in 2020 was the introduction of the ability to electronic voting remotely, specifically from the usual workstation.
The bill further adapts the legal framework around e-voting to enable remote electronic voting for more voters, and to ensure its security.
In the 2020 social elections, remote electronic voting was only allowed via a carrier connected to the company’s secure network. This limited remote electronic voting because not all employees always have a workstation connected to the secure company network.
To remedy this, the bill steps away from the requirement that the voting software be compulsorily installed on the user company’s secure network. From now on, the employer will be able to choose, in consultation with the software manufacturer, whether to insure security:
Security includes ensuring, either through the company’s network or the software manufacturer’s network, end-to-end encryption of the channel between the medium on which the vote is cast and the server on which the voting software resides. E-voting should also pay due attention to watertight voter identification and authentication.
The bill also specifies that the employer and the software manufacturer are jointly responsible for GDPR compliance when processing personal data in the context of electronic voting. Notably, the bill does not abandon the principle that remote voting should only be done from the usual workplace. What exactly may be considered customary work items should be defined in the agreement on electronic voting. This could therefore also be where teleworkers work.
Act 5 June 2023 amending the Act of 4 December 2007 on social elections, the Act of 20 September 1948 organising business and the Act of 4 August 1996 on the welfare of employees in the performance of their work, Belgian Official Gazette. 30 June 2023
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