On 15 March 2017, a new bill was published in the Belgian Official Gazette, which reforms Belgian employment law on some important points. The purpose of this reform is to increase the competitiveness of companies and to improve the work/life balance of the employees. The most important changes are the introduction of 1) “the voluntary performance of 100 overtime hours by the employee” and 2) “occasional telework”.
As regards the first point, employees can now agree to voluntarily perform 100 overtime hours, without the obligation for the employer to grant compensatory rest to the employees for these overtime hours. The normal overtime salary-rules remain applicable to these overtime hours. In the future however, it will become possible for employees not to choose a payout of these overtime hours, but to save them on a “career saving account”, which will allow employees to take extra holidays later in their career. However, before companies can use this possibility, collective bargaining agreements must be concluded at inter-professional, sectoral or company level.
As regards the second point, a new framework for occasional telework was introduced in addition to the existing rules on structural telework. Under occasional telework one must understand the telework, which is not performed on a regular and organized basis. The employee must be able to invoke a ‘force majeure’ (e.g. car breakdown) or ‘personal reasons’ (e.g. the visit of a technician at home).