Resumption of the 2020 Social Elections procedure: when and how?

The rules for the resumption of the 2020 Social Elections procedure have been set (see the Royal Decree of 15 July 2020 and Act of 15 July 2020). Here are seven takeaways on when and how the electoral procedure will (re)start, necessary preparatory steps and new opportunities.

1. 16–29 November 2020: New electoral period

  • First things first: it has now officially been decided that the (delayed) 2020 Social Elections will take place between 16 and 29 November 2020.
  • FPS Employment has published the corresponding new electoral calendar on its website.
  • The delayed election day (new day "Y", see point 2 below) will fall within that new electoral period and will determine all future procedural deadlines.
  • The date ranges that are mentioned in this contribution just indicate the period within which the relevant deadline will fall. The precise deadline depends on the new day "Y" within your undertaking and can be consulted in the electoral calendar.

2. Between 1 August 2020 and 16–29 September 2020 (day "X+29"): prepare for resumption

  • This preparation period, starting on 1 August and ending on day "X+29", falls completely within the current period of suspension of the electoral procedure.
  • This period is necessary to prepare for the resumption of the procedure (see point 4 below).
  • (Only) during this preparation period, the existing works council ("WC") and/or committee for prevention and protection at work ("CPPW") – or otherwise the employer – can validly meet, decide and communicate with regard to the new date for the elections, the voting schedule and the electoral calendar, as further described in this point.
  • New social elections day: 
    • As a rule, the new day "Y" is automatically determined: it will fall within the new electoral period as a "mirror" of how the original day "Y" fitted into the original electoral period. Specific rules apply to the undertakings that are not "on scheme".
    • However, the WC and/or CPPW – or otherwise the employer – can derogate from the automatic determination of the new day "Y", by deciding on another day "Y" within the new electoral period. This decision can only be taken within the preparation period.
  • Possible adaptation of the voting schedule: 
    • As a rule, the initial voting schedule (as mentioned in the initial day "X" notice of February 2020) remains applicable.
    • However, the WC and/or CPPW or otherwise the employer can decide – but only within the preparation period – to modify the voting schedule, provided that the voting window is not reduced compared with the initial schedule. This is an opportunity to adapt the voting schedule to Covid-19 prevention and safety measures.
  • Mandatory update of the day "X" notice:  
    • At the latest on day "X+29" (16–29 September 2020) the WC and/or CPPW – or otherwise the employer – must post and communicate a rectification notice (on the basis of a statutory template) with:
      • the new day "Y",
      • the (possibly updated) voting schedule, and
      • the new electoral calendar. 
    • The initial day "X" notice must also remain posted.

3. 18–31 August 2020: Start of new "occult" period

  • You need to be aware that, not long after the start of the preparation period, a new "occult" period will start within your undertaking, during which each employee is potentially protected against dismissal (see our earlier article on this subject).

4. 23 September – 6 October 2020 (day "X+36"): "Resumption" day

  • As the social elections procedure has been temporarily suspended as from the (initial) day "X+36" (March 2020), the procedure will restart on (new) day "X+36", which falls 54 days prior to new day "Y" (see our earlier article on this subject).

5. 27 September – 10 October 2020 (day "X+40"): First TO DO after resumption

  • Once the procedure has resumed, and by day "X+40" at the latest, the employer must display (or electronically communicate) the final lists of candidates (received in March 2020). This is also the deadline for the designation of the chair and deputy chair of each electoral committee.

6. Between "Resumption" day "X+36" and 13–26 October 2020 (day "X+56") at the latest: A new opportunity to agree on electronic voting:

  • Given the (ongoing) Covid-19 situation, undertakings that had not at first decided to opt for electronic voting will now be given a new opportunity to do so.
  • (Only) between day "X+36" and day "X+56", an undertaking can decide that the vote will take place electronically (with all the legal rules being respected). This decision is required to be based on an agreement between the employer and all representatives of the organisations that have presented candidates for the relevant category, and must be posted and communicated.
  • Incidentally, day "X+56" also happens to be the deadline for an agreement between the same parties on voting by letter (with all the legal rules being respected).

7. Other procedural steps and deadlines

All other procedural steps and deadlines follow the normal legal rules.

Back to normal? We hope so!

The Eubelius Social Elections Focus Team is keeping track of the situation. We wish you a smooth restart of the procedure and we are on standby, ready to help you through this unprecedented electoral challenge.