Postponement of the 2020 Social Elections: unanimous opinion of the National Labour Council

COVID-19
26 March 2020

[Subject to further updates]

The National Labour Council has adopted a unanimous opinion concerning the 2020 Social Elections.

The Council officially approves the consensus that was reached between the social partners on 17 March 2020, i.e. to collectively postpone the social elections as a consequence of the coronavirus crisis. The Council suggests amendments to the legal framework that are necessary for:

  • postponement of the 2020 Social Elections; and
  • regulation of the impact of this on the electoral procedure and the protection of the candidates.

Postponement of the 2020 Social Elections

Social Elections day

The Council advises that the 2020 Social Elections should take place between 16 and 29 November 2020 (subject to further developments due to the coronavirus).

According to the opinion, the new social elections day (day “Y”) will have to fall within this period, and it will not be chosen freely. It will have to be determined based on how the original day Y fitted into the original electoral period (11–24 May 2020).

Social Elections procedure

The Council calls for the social elections procedure to be temporarily suspended as from day X+36.

This means that the procedure would temporarily be stopped at day X+35, which is the deadline for the submission of the lists of candidates.

The lists of candidates will not be displayed or otherwise communicated by the employer before the resumption of the procedure.

The trade unions will suspend their electoral campaign.

Impact of the postponement: collateral damage to be avoided

The Council has prepared a non-exhaustive list of the technical and/or legal aspects that will have to be regulated as a result of the postponement. The guiding principle is to avoid all undesirable side effects.

These aspects include: protection against dismissal of former (2016 Social Elections) and new (2020 Social Elections) candidates, the conditions of eligibility of candidates, the conditions for interim workers to vote, and the functioning of the existing works councils and committees for prevention and protection at work. We will come back to the particular issue of protection against dismissal in a later post.

This opinion of the National Labour Council takes us one step closer to legal certainty about the continuation of the 2020 Social Elections in post-coronavirus times.

However, it is important to keep in mind that the proposed measures are not yet legally binding. The Federal Public Service for Employment, Work and Social Dialogue confirms that the Council’s opinion will be made into binding rules as a matter of urgency (special powers regulation). We will keep you posted.

Sources: 

The Eubelius Social Elections Focus Team is keeping track of the situation. We are on standby, ready to help you through this unprecedented electoral challenge.