As of 1 April 2014, all workers (blue and white collar) may ask their employer to provide them with the reason(s) for their dismissal. If an employer does not (timely) respond to such a request, it will be required to pay a lump-sum civil fine (indemnity) of two weeks’ salary to the employee, provided that the request was sent in time by registered mail and that the employer had not already communicated the reasons for the dismissal at its own initiative.
Moreover, if the dismissal (i) has been carried out for reasons unrelated to the worker’s capability or conduct, or to the operational requirements of the undertaking, and (ii) would never have been carried out by a normal and reasonable employer, the dismissal will be considered as “unjustified” as a result of it being “manifestly unreasonable”, and the employee will be entitled to damages (ranging between 3 and 17 weeks’ salary).
The labour court of Leuven rendered one of the first rulings in this respect on 8 October 2015. In the case presented to the court, the employer based the dismissal of the employee on the following grounds: that the frequent absences of the employee, who held a managerial position, had a very negative impact on the operations of the employer, that the employee’s actions were not in line with the company’s principles on teamwork and that employer’s clients had made complaints about the non-commercial attitude of the employee. The court held that the dismissal was not “manifestly unreasonable”. The court highlighted that it is only permitted to undertake a ‘marginal check’ of the grounds invoked by the employer. Only if the decision to dismiss would not have been taken by any other normal and reasonable employer placed in the same circumstances, the dismissal would be unjustified, which was not the case according to the court.