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Belgium - Substantive requirements for dismissals

Substantive requirements for dismissals (justified and prohibited grounds) - Belgium - 2019    

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Obligation to provide reasons to the employee: Yes
  • In previous years, there was no general obligation to motivate the dismissal. Only blue-collar workers were expressly protected against unfair dismissal by their employer on the basis of Art.63 ECA. White-collar workers could only invoke the theory of abuse of rights ("théorie de l'abus de droit") if they considered that they had been unfairly dismissed.

    With effect from 1 April 2014 -- the date of entry into force of Collective labour agreement No. 109 -- any dismissed worker belonging to the private sector, whether a blue-collar worker or a white-collar worker, has the right to be informed by his employer about the concrete reasons that led to his/her dismissal. However, the Collective labour agreement No. 109 does not apply to dismissals that take place during the first 6 months of employment (Art. 2(2)).

    The theory of abuse of rights may still be invoked by both private and public sector workers when they feel they have been wronged as to the reason of their dismissal.

    For further information:
    Collective Labour Agreement No 109, 18 February 2014, on the motivation of dismissal.

    See also:

Valid grounds (justified dismissal): none; none
  • The Law does not provide explicitly for the need to provide valid grounds to justify dismissals.

    However, the national 2014 Collective labour agreement No. 109 provides that a dismissal of a worker on a contract of employment of indefinite duration would be "manifestly unreasonable" if it is based on reasons that are not at all connected to the capacity or conduct of the worker, or to the operational requirements of the undertaking --and that would have not been decided by an employer "normal and reasonable" (Art. 8).

    The 2014 Collective agreement (Art. 3-7) provides that a worker can request to receive a notice on the reasons for his or her dismissal from the employer within 2 months after the dismissal took place. The employer then must respond within 2 months. (This rule does not apply to collective dismissals.)

Prohibited grounds: marital status; pregnancy; maternity leave; temporary work injury or illness; race; colour; sex; sexual orientation; religion; political opinion; social origin; nationality/national origin; age; trade union membership and activities; disabilities; financial status; language; whistle blowing; birth; state of health; genetic information; ethnic origin
  • Three national laws constitute the legal framework for the fight against discrimination in the area of employment and occupation, including termination:

    - Loi générale du 10 mai 2007 tendant à lutter contre certaines formes de discrimination ;
    - Loi du 10 mai 2007 tendant à lutter contre les discriminations entre les hommes et les femmes;
    - Loi du 30 juillet 1981 tendant à réprimer certains actes inspirés par le racisme et la xénophobie.

Workers enjoying special protection: workers' representatives; pregnant women and/or women on maternity leave; workers holding an elected position or discharging a public function
  • * Pregnant women: prohibition of dismissal (art. 40 LA).
    * Workers' representatives: see Act of 19 March 1991 establishing specific dismissal rules and procedures for workers' representatives on works councils and health, safety and working conditions committees.

    * Prevention advisers
    The law also provides for special procedures concerning termination of employment of "Prevention advisers" ("conseillers en prévention") in charge of prevention and protection at work. See: Act of 20 December 2002 on the protection of prevention advisers ("Loi du 20 décembre 2002 portant protection des conseillers en prévention")

    *Other categories of workers who benefit from special protection against termination of employment, see list:

    - protection en faveur du père qui fait usage de son congé de paternité
    - protection en faveur du parent adoptif
    - protection en faveur du médecin du travail
    - protection en faveur de certains mandataires politiques
    - protection en faveur du travailleur qui a obtenu un crédit-temps
    - protection en faveur du travailleur qui a obtenu une interruption de carrière
    - protection en faveur du travailleur qui a obtenu un congé éducation-payé
    - protection en faveur du travailleur ayant formulé certaines observations au sujet de modifications apportées au règlement de travail
    - protection en faveur du travailleur qui a déposé une plainte dans le cadre de la réglementation en matière d’égalité de traitement entre hommes et femmes; la réglementation relative à la violence ou le harcèlement moral ou sexuel au travail; la réglementation en matière de racisme et de xénophobie; la réglementation ayant trait à certaines formes de discrimination.