SOCIAL ELECTIONS 2020: Are you prepared for the countdown and aware of the “occult period”?

The next social elections of the workers’ representatives in the works council and committee for prevention and protection at work will take place between 11 and 24 May 2020 in companies that meet the thresholds.


Between 13 and 26 December 2019, these companies will have to officially kick off the preparatory procedure with the relevant information about the technical business units, the number of employees per category, the functions of the personnel with a leading position as well an indicative list of personnel with a leading position, the functions of the executives as well as an indicative list of personnel with an executive function, and the date of the announcement of the social elections and the effective date of the elections.

While this is only one of the earliest steps to be taken in the procedure of the social elections, this also serves as a last call prior the start of the so-called “occult period of protection” of (future) candidates for the social elections a mere 30 days later.

Why an “occult period of protection” ? Because during a period of at least 65 days, the employer cannot know which worker will put his name up on the ballot for the social elections although that worker already benefits from the protection against dismissal.

And this protection means that only a dismissal for serious cause (duly recognized by the labor court prior to the termination) or for economic or technical reasons (duly recognized by the competent joint labor committee prior to the termination) will be possible.

Violation of the protection of (future) candidates to the social elections is very costly, in certain cases it can reach an amount equal to 8 years’ salary.

While any (future) candidate whose employment agreement is being terminated during the ‘occult period of protection” has 30 days to claim his re-integration to be entitled to a protection indemnity, the employer’s refusal of the requested re-integration means he employer will be liable to pay the protection indemnity.

If the risk of the “occult protection period” is to be prevented, the dismissal will have to be notified prior to January 12, 2020;

As the start of the calendar for the social elections of 2020 is rapidly approaching, EY Law can advise and assist with the legal issues surrounding the preparation and implementation of the procedure of the social elections.