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Employee protection in Belgium

When hiring in Belgium, you must be aware of the various employment legislations in place to protect workers. Understanding these regulations can help your organisation foster a fair and inclusive work environment while mitigating potential risks. 

In this guide, you will gain insights into specific employment legislations that you need to be aware of as an employer in Belgium. We’ll also cover topics such as whistleblower protections, data privacy, equal treatment for temporary agency workers, anti-discrimination laws, and pay equity legislation, to help you align your organisational practices with these employment legislations.

Whistleblowing in Belgium

The whistleblowing law in Belgium was enacted to meet the provisions set by the EU Whistleblowing Directive. 

This guarantees whistleblowers protection from retaliation, provided they have reasonable grounds to believe the disclosed information is true and they report it in good faith. Whistleblowers’ confidentiality must also be guaranteed, and they should not face any adverse treatment or discrimination for disclosing information in good faith. 

In the case of retaliation, whistleblowers in Belgium have the right to claim for compensation and benefit from the protection granted by the law. This can include reinstatement of employment, indemnity payment, or any other appropriate remedy. 

Moreover, companies in Belgium are required to have an internal reporting channel in place to facilitate employee whistleblowing. Entities with more than 250 employees must set up an internal reporting channel starting on February 15, 2023. Legal entities employing between 50 and 249 employees, on the other hand, must set up the internal reporting channel by December 17, 2023. There are severe sanctions for non-compliance with the obligation to set up an internal reporting channel.

Data protection in Belgium

The Data Protection Act or the Act on the Protection of Natural Persons with regard to the Processing of Personal Data was enacted on July 30, 2018. The law aims to regulate the processing of personal data and ensure compliance with the fundamental principles of data protection. It provides guidelines for the lawful, fair, and transparent processing of personal data, as well as the rights of individuals with regard to their personal data, including the rights to access, correction, and deletion. In addition to the Act, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) also applies in Belgium. The GDPR sets forth rules for the processing of personal data and the free movement of such data. 

In order to protect personal data, employees in Belgium should be informed about how their data will be processed, and, in certain cases, their explicit consent must be given. It’s important to follow the rules when transferring data outside of the European Economic Area. Additionally, there are specific restrictions on monitoring email, internet use, and the use of cameras in the workplace. Compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Belgian data protection laws is essential when processing personal data. 

Employers in Belgium must stay updated on the latest guidelines and updates from the Belgian Data Protection Authority regarding the processing and protection of personal data, particularly in an employment context, to remain compliant.

Temporary agency work in Belgium

Temporary agency workers are also entitled to equal pay. The temporary agency worker is entitled to the same pay throughout of his employment as he would have received if the company had hired him as a permanent employee. Regardless of their contract type, the law guarantees equal pay and benefits for all employees performing the same job within the same company. This is in contrast to some other European countries, where temporary workers may start off with a lower salary.

Anti-discrimination law in Belgium

Anti-discrimination laws in Belgium

The Belgian Constitution guarantees equality for all Belgian citizens, including equality between men and women (Article 10). It also guarantees the rights and freedoms of all Belgian citizens without any discrimination, covering ideological and philosophical minorities as well (Article 11).  

Verbal and sexual harassment law in Belgium

In terms of protection against harassment, there are laws in place to protect employees from verbal and sexual harassment in the workplace. The law on protection from violence, moral harassment (bullying), and sexual harassment at the workplace was revised in 2006 to provide legal safeguards. This law requires employers to establish internal procedures for handling harassment complaints made by employees. 

Moreover, a new regulation was implemented to comply with relevant European directives and came into force on June 1, 2023. This modifies the protection against retaliation of discrimination, violence, and moral or sexual harassment at work. The Framework Agreement on Harassment and Violence at Work, which applies to Belgium, defines harassment as the repeated and deliberate abuse, threat, and/or humiliation of a worker or manager in relation to their work. It recognises that harassment and violence are unacceptable behaviours that can occur in the workplace. 

In cases where the discrimination also involves harassment, the victim has the option to choose the grounds under which they want to proceed. The victim has the option to select either well-being at work legislation or anti-discrimination legislation. In either case, the protection against retaliation provided by the discrimination acts will be applicable.

Equal pay in Belgium

Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union introduces the concept of equal pay for equal work between male and female employees. In Belgium, this principle is enforced through Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) No. 25, which is made mandatory by a Royal Decree. CBA No. 25 ensures equal pay for men and women who perform equal or equivalent work. It is required to include the text of CBA No. 25 in the work rules of the company. 

Companies operating in Belgium must incorporate the text of CBA No. 25 into their work regulations. This law is designed to address and prevent gender-based wage disparities in the workplace.

Protect your business with our compliance expertise

Understanding and adhering to employment laws in Belgium can be a complex task for employers. It’s crucial to understand the dos and don’ts to avoid legal repercussions and potential damage to your reputation. 

That’s why we’ve developed a set of compliance tools to protect you from various workforce risks, including worker misclassification, tax, and immigration. With our comprehensive understanding of local and international labour laws, you can compliantly hire top talent in Belgium with confidence, paving the way for your global success. 

Speak to our team today and streamline your international workforce management.

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