Social dialogue reform

The Law on Social Dialogue(1) constitutes a significant reform in relation to staff representation and the powers granted to staff delegations.

It will partly enter into force on 1 January 2016 and partly following the next social elections scheduled in 2018.

From 1 January 2016 onwards, the most significant amendments provided by the Law on Social Dialogue will be as follows:

  • the staff delegation will be established within the company and no longer within its establishments,
  • the delegation will be able to consult advisers and external experts as soon as the company has at least 51 employees,
  • the age limit for taking part in the election of the delegation will be lowered from 18 to 16,
  • the general duties of the delegation will increase and in particular the delegation’s right to information and consultation on the life of the company with regard to rates of absence, vocational training, prevention of harassment and violence at work, working hours, internal reassignments, temporary employees, etc.,
  • the safety delegate will now be known as the “health and safety delegate”, his right to consultation will be increased and he will be entitled to training leave,
  • the deputy delegates will also be entitled to training leave and delegates elected for the first time will have their right to training leave increased,
  • the posting of delegation notices can be made via electronic means accessible to staff,
  • delegates will have more freedom for contact with the company’s employees and they will be entitled to a dedicated space with computer equipment and means of communication,
  • credit hours paid and granted to delegates will increase considerably in companies with at least 150 employees,
  • the head of the company will be required to release any delegate from work once the company has reached a workforce of 250 employees (currently 501 employees),
  • in the event of an amendment to an essential clause in the employment contract, the delegate will have the possibility to file an application, before the chairman of the employment tribunal, to have such an amendment cancelled,
  • the special protection against dismissal for the delegate will remain but, in the event of dismissal the delegate will be able to choose to apply for:

-  his dismissal to be invalidated and thereafter his reinstatement, or

   -  for the recognition of the termination of his employment contract and of punitive damages,

  • complete remodelling of the procedure for laying off a staff delegate in the event of serious misconduct;
  • a mediation committee may be established.

After the next social elections scheduled in 2018:

  • the divisional, central and young employee delegations will disppear,
  • the joint committees will disappear and their powers in relation to technical, economic and financial information and consultation and those relating to the participation in some company decisions will pass to the delegations in companies with at least 150 employees; delegations will also be granted the right to take part in company decisions and in the implementation of any programme or joint action for ongoing vocational training,
  • companies which constitute an economic and social entity may establish a delegation within the economic and social entity in order to simplify the exchange of information between the different delegations,
  • an office reorganisation will be performed with regard to the operation of the delegation.

(1) Law on Social Dialogue refers to the Law of 23 July 2015 on the reform of social dialogue within companies and amending the Labour Code and the amended Law of 19 December 2002 regarding the Register of Trade and Commerce as well as the accountability and annual accounts of companies.