On 11 October 2014, the members of the new federal government have taken the oath at the Royal Palace of Brussels. Below you will find an overview of the main lines that they have included in the federal coalition government.
The government wishes to compensate the wage handicap with the neighbouring countries, which is detected since 1996. This is amongst other things put into practise by means of a skip in cost-of-living increases in 2015 and a further wage moderation in 2015-2016. The Act of 26 July 1996 for the promotion of employment and for the preventative safeguarding of competitiveness will be amended in this context.
In addition, the government will extend the reduction of the employers' contributions. Before the end of the legislature, it will reduce the basic rate of the employers' contributions in order to reach a basic rate of 25 %. For example, the structural exemption of the advance payment of withholding tax of 1% will be converted into an additional reduction of the basic rate of the employers' contributions. To promote the creation of jobs in SME's, the government will enhance and simplify the reduction of the contribution for the first three recruits hired.
Modernization of the labour market
The simplification and modernization of the legislation will be pursued after hearing the opinion of the social partners. It regards amongst other things a more flexible work organisation and working time (such as annualising the working time), working part-time, overtime hours and flextime.
The revision of the wage scales is finalized in conjunction with the reduction of the number of joint committees.
After hearing the opinion of the social partners, the government will make proposals to:
- allow more flexible career paths;
- introduce a “career account” system which will enable workers to accumulate time and/or wage:
- revise the collective employment agreement on teleworking;
- enable the further harmonisation of the status of manual and non-manual worker. This includes guaranteed wages, annual leave, temporary unemployment and collective labour law;
- examine the terms for the calculation in hours of the 50 days of student work;
- adapt the regulatory framework relating to the closure of enterprises and collective redundancies with a view to shorter procedures.
Time credit and career breaks
The benefit for the ungrounded time credit is abolished. The time credit specific to the end of working life between 50 and 54 years will steadily end and the limit of 55 years for first applications will be increased to 60 years as from 1 January 2015.
End of working life
The conditions to enjoy the 'SWT' (system of unemployment with the granting of employer-paid compensation - the former bridging pension scheme) have been tightened:
- as from 1 January 2015, the age condition for all new general ‘SWT’ collective bargaining agreements and cba no. 17 will be increased from 60 to 62 years;
- as from 1 January 2017, the age requirement for ‘SWT’ in the event of enterprises in difficulty or restructuring will be increased to 60 years;
- as from 1 January 2015, the age requirement for ‘SWT’ for arduous occupations (career of 33 years) and long careers (career of 40 years) will be increased from 56 years to 58 years. On 1 January 2017, the age condition will be further increased to 60 years.
The period of guaranteed wages in the event of incapacity for work is raised to 2 months.
The catering sector will enjoy a discount on the cost of labour. In addition hereto, also casual work will be reformed. The limit of 100 days will be increased to 200 days. Workers who work at least 4/5 for an employer, will have the possibility to supplement their income on advantageous terms.
The government will also allow for an administrative simplification for the sector, amongst other things for social documents such as DIMONA.
Following points have also been included in the coalition agreement:
- the ceiling on permitted earned incomes in combination with an old-age pension granted after the statutory retirement age or a 45-year career will be abolished;
- the fight against social fraud must be stepped up. The government will approve an annual action plan against social fraud, paying particular attention to social dumping;
- the government recognizes the special statute for artists. The current legislation is evaluated, adjusted, optimized in order to prevent abuse;
- the flat-rate deduction of business expenses will be raised, so increasing the net income;
- in cooperation with the regional governments, the government will make the new exemption of advance payment of withholding tax when investing in assisted areas operational as soon as possible;
- It will be explored whether it is appropriate to enhance the exemption from the advance payment of withholding tax for scientific researchers;
- It is examined whether the minimum amount of the benefit of any kind for company cars can be abolished for environmentally-friendly cars.
- the government will create a legal framework for the mobility budget.
Source: Coalition Agreement - 10 October 2014
Auteur: Peggy Criel