No IPA, but still an agreement

Author: Leen Lafourt

At the end of February, the Group of Ten reached a draft remuneration agreement. Before this draft agreement could be declared definite by a generally binding CLA closed in the National Labour Council (CNT/NAR), it still must be approved by the entire Group of Ten.
However, the draft has only been approved by a group of nine social partners. The ABVV voted against. This made it impossible to sign and implement the IPA.
As a result, the government adopted the provisions relating to the wage standard. The other points were sent back to the social partners. They agreed to conclude separate CLAs for each subject. Only the provisions relating to the limited increase in minimum wages, the main reason why the ABVV did not want to adopt the IPA, remain out of scope for the time being.

On 24 April 2019, the Royal Decree on the wage standard was published in the Belgian Official Gazette. At the same time, all CLAs in implementation of the IPA were published on the website of the Labour Council. In this way, the various points of the IPA are now given a legal basis, without there being a real IPA as in 2017. However, the Labour Council confirms that all points of the IPA are indivisible, regardless of how they are implemented.

Below we provide you with an overview of the various points of the IPA and how they are implemented in practice. In the Memento of March 2019 you can read more about the content of the 2019-2020 interprofessional agreement (IPA).

The wage standard: the RD published!

On Tuesday 24 April 2019 the RD implementing article 7, § 1 of the Act of 26 July 1996 on the promotion of employment and the preventive safeguarding of competitiveness was published in the Belgian Official Gazette. This RD sets the maximum margin for the increase of labour costs for the period 2019-2020 at 1,1%. This is a single biennial percentage, which means that the 1.1% applies for 2019 and 2020 (i.e. an increase of 1.1% can only be granted once for both years).

In this context, the Labour Council also recommended to pay attention to the harmonisation of supplementary pensions for manual and non-manual workers. The Labour Council asks the sectors in which there is still a major difference in treatment between manual and non-manual workers, to take actions. We remind that by 1 January 2025 there must no longer be differences in treatment based on the distinction between manual and non-manual workers.
In addition, the Council requests that all sectors provide a motivated report on the progress made by 1 September 2019.

Implementation via CLA

Meanwhile also the CLAs implementing the other points of the IPA have been published on the website of the Working Council. These are:

  • Amendment to CLA No 19 following the increase in employers' contributions to the common public transport from 64 % to 70 % as from 1 July 2019. In addition, as of 1 July 2020, the minimum distance of 5 km will be abolished (CLA No 19/9 on the financial contribution of employers to the common public transport of employees);
  • Increase in the number of voluntary overtime hours from 100 to 120 hours/calendar year (CLA No 129 on voluntary overtime);
  • Medical RCC/SWT from 58 years of age (until 31.12. 2020) (CLA No 133);
  • RCC/SWT heavy work arrangements after 35 years of career from 59 years (until 30.06.2021). Afterwards from the age of 60 (CLA No 132 and CLA No 140);
  • RCC/SWT heavy work arrangements (including 20 years of night work) and reduced fitness for work after 33 years of career from 59 years (until 30.06.2021). As from 01.07.2021 from the age of 60 (CLA No 130, CLA No 131, CLA No 138 and CLA No 139);
  • RCC/SWT for companies in difficulty or restructuring from 58 years (2019), from 59 years (until 30.12.2020). From 31.12.2020 from the age of 60 (CLA No 136);
  • RCC/SWT long career (professional career of 40 years) from 59 years (2019 and 2020) and from 60 years (from 01.07.2021) (CLA No 134, CLA No 135, CLA No 141 and CLA No 142);
  • CLA No 143: as of 1 July 2021, the age at which a RCC/SWT can be granted to certain older employees in a heavy profession must be set at at least 60 years;
  • Granting of benefits within the framework of 1/5 end-of-career job from the age of 55 and half-time end-of-career job from the age of 57 for employees with a long career, heavy profession or from a company in difficulty or restructuring (2019 and 2020) (CLA No 137).


Prosperity-linked mechanism and certain extensions: bill

The distribution of the welfare envelope is not included in the interprofessional agreement. The advice of the working Council (advice No 2.129) and the Central Business Council on this matter is ready. Also the Chamber prepared a bill for the distribution of certain pension amounts (increase in the minimum pension, guaranteed income for the elderly, minimum pension for incomplete careers).

The extension of innovation premiums and efforts of the risk groups are also included in the same bill.

Increase of the minimum wage - on hold

A draft CLA on the 1,1 % increase in the current minimum wages has already been drawn up. The signing (or not) will be postponed until after 14 June 2019. In this way the working group that will examine the possibilities of a significant increase in the minimum wage can start its work already.

Further negotiations

In the meantime, several working groups are being set up:

  • A working group with the duty of formulating proposals for a significant increase in the GMMMI by 30 September 2019;
  • A committee within the Working Council and the Central Business Council to promote sustainable travel;
  • A committee within the Labour Council that will consider the reform of art. 39ter (= the obligation for the sectors to use 1/3rd of the period of notice or the severance pay of at least 30 weeks by the end of 2018 for measures that increase the employability of the employee on the labour market). The social partners intend to work out an interprofessional regulation by 30 September 2019 with regard to the application of part of the severance pay.

Now it is up to the sectors!

Now that all points of the IPA have been implemented and are therefore final, it is up to the sectors. They are now starting their negotiations with the ultimate goal of concluding a global sector agreement. In this sector agreement, they will implement the provisions of the IPA (e.g. give concrete expression to the wage standard of 1.1%, allow the possibility of time credit with benefits from 55 years (1/5) or 57 years (1/2) with benefits, ...).

As soon as agreements are concluded in your sector, we will inform you immediately via our sector information.



Sources:  2019-2020 Interprofessional Agreement, bill implementing the 2019-2020 interprofessional agreement; Royal decree of 19 April 2019 implementing article 7, § 1 of the Act of 26 July 1996 on the promotion of employment and on the preventative safeguarding of competitiveness; Recommendation No 27 of the Labour Council to the joint committees and to the companies following the agreements of 1 April 2019 closed in the National Labour Council.