Benefits for an 'end of career' time credit before the age of 60: reintroduction!

Author: Catherine Legardien
Date:

Collective bargaining agreement No 137, recently concluded within the National Labour Council, reintroduces the right to benefits before the age of 60 for certain employees with an 'end-of-career' time credit.

Principle: right to a benefit from the age of 60

Since 1 January 2015, the right to benefits in the context of an 'end of career' time credit has only been granted to employees who are at least 60 years old (instead of 60 years) on the date that the reduction of their working hours begins.

Deviating age condition

Context

By way of derogation from this general rule, the age condition was set at 55 years for employees with a long career exercising a strenuous profession or working in a company recognised as being in difficulty or undergoing restructuring.

However, the intention was to gradually increase the age limit as from 1 January 2016, unless a framework CLA (made compulsory by Royal Decree) had been concluded in order to maintain the age condition at 55 years.

Such framework agreements have been concluded, the last of which expires on 31 December 2018.

As of 1 January 2019, it was in principle no longer possible to receive career-interruption benefit from the age of 55.

However, this was without taking into account CBA No. 137, recently concluded within the National Labour Council, which reintroduces, at inter-professional level, the right to benefits before the age of 60 for certain employees with an "end-of-career" time credit.

What does CBA No. 137 lay down?

For the period 2019-2020, the age limit will be lowered to less than 60 years in two specific cases:

  • after a long career or after exercising strenuous profession;
  • in the context of a profession within a company recognised as being in difficulty or undergoing restructuring.

Long career and strenuous profession

The deviating age condition is set at:

  • 55 years for the employee who reduces his working hours by 1/5th;
  • 57 years for the employee who reduces his working hours to a half-time job.

However, this reduction in the take-up age (to 55 or 57 years) can only be taken into consideration if the employee, at the time of the written notification to the employer of a reduction of working hours:

  • can justify a career of 35 years as an salaried employee OR
  • can justify that he:
  1. has been employed in a strenuous profession for at least 5 years, calculated from date to date. This period must be established during the last 10 calendar years, calculated from date to date;
  2. or has been employed in a strenuous profession for at least 7 years, calculated from date to date. This period must be established during the last 15 calendar years, calculated from date to date;
  3. or have been employed for at least 20 years in an arrangement with night work (CBA No. 46);
  4. or have been employed by an employer belonging to the JC for the building sector, as long as the employee has a certificate issued by an occupational physician who confirms his incapacity to continue his occupational activity.

Please note!

In order to qualify for time credit benefits (at the age of 55 or 57), a sectoral CBA made compulsory by Royal Decree must have been concluded by the joint (sub)committee to which the employer and the employee belong, and the latter must explicitly state that it has been concluded in accordance with CBA No. 137.

Company recognised as being in difficulty or undergoing restructuring

The deviating age condition is set at:

  • 55 years for the employee who reduces his working hours by 1/5th;
  • 57 years for the employee who reduces his working hours to a half-time job

when, at the date of the reduction of working hours, the employee is employed in a company recognised as being in difficulty or undergoing restructuring.

However, the age limit (55 or 57 years) may only be taken into account if the following cumulative conditions are met:

  • the company demonstrates that its application for recognition is part of a restructuring plan and allows it to avoid redundancies;
  • the company demonstrates that its application for recognition enables it to reduce the number of employees transitioning to the scheme of unemployment with corporate allowance;
  • the Minister of Work has expressly stated in the recognition decision that these conditions are fulfilled.

Please note!

the company must have concluded a CBA at company level, expressly stating that CBA No. 137 is applicable, following its recognition as a company being in difficulty or undergoing restructuring.

Source: collective bargaining agreement No. 127 setting, for 2019 and 2020, the inter-professional framework for reducing the age limit for the access to the entitlement to benefits for end-of-career jobs, for employees who have a long career, who exercise a strenuous profession or who are employed in a company being in difficulty or undergoing restructuring, concluded within the National Labour Council on 23 April 2019.