STAFF REGULATIONS - SOURCE OF INFORMATION ON RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS
STAFF REGULATIONS - SOURCE OF INFORMATION ON RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS Almost every workplace is obliged to have staff regulations. When signing a work contract, the employee declares that (s)he has received and familiarized themselves with the content of the work regulations. However, in fact few employees read what they are signing. Few of them actually get work regulations and few claim to get the rules. Yet, staff regulations contain very important pieces of information about the rights and obligations of the employee and the employer. They also contain rules prevailing in the enterprise as well as information on necessary activities, e.g. in case of an illness of the employee, rules for applying for a leave, proceedings in the event of unforeseen family or force majeure events, rules for applying for a parental leave as well as for additional days off from work etc. In addition, work regulations also comprise information on working time, salary payment deadlines, periods of notifying about the contract termination and reasons for which an employee can be dismissed immediately. Work regulations are drawn up on the basis of the labour code or an the industry or company collective agreement.
RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS - SELECTED ASPECTS
What to do in case of illness or accident?
An employee who is unable to work as a result of an illness or an accident should immediately inform their employer about this fact (Article 31§2 of the labour code). You can do it by phone, in writing, by e-mail or by fax. In addition, you must provide the employer with a medical certificate on a sick leave. The medical certificate must be delivered within 48 hours (two working days) counting from the first day of your inability to work, unless an industry or company collective agreement or staff regulations provide for other deadlines. It is best to provide a medical certificate by registered or certified mail (date of receipt and signature of the employer on a copy of the certificate). In this way, in case of doubts or problems on the employer’s side, the employee will be able to prove that (s)he has respected the deadline for providing the certificate. The employee is entitled to a guaranteed wage, which the employer pays for the period of the illness. The employee is not entitled to a guaranteed wage if the illness occurs during the first month of the employee’s work in the enterprise. From the 15th day of illness in the case of blue-collar workers and the 30th day of illness in the case of white-collar workers, the employee is entitled to a sickness benefit paid by the health insurance fund. If the employee becomes ill during the first month of work, (s)he should inform their health insurance fund about this fact as soon as possible. Note: the employee must inform their health insurance fund about their illness himself/herself. It is best to do it as soon as possible and on the fourteenth day of the illness at the latest.
|Guaranteed pay depending on employee status|
|Blue-collar workers||White-collar workers|
|1-7 days of sickness||100% of pay (employer pays)||1-30 days of sickness||100% of pay (employer pays)*|
|8-14 days of sickness||85, 88% of pay (employer pays)||From 31 days of sickness||Benefit from health insurance fund|
|15-30 days of sickness||Sickness benefit from health insurance fund + employer allowance|
|From 31 days of sickness||Benefit from health insurance fund|
|*white-collar workers and probation period workers or employed for a period shorter than 3 months get a guaranteed pay and a sickness benefit based on the same principles as blue-collar workers.|
Warning: Failing to notify the employer or failing to deliver a medical certificate means infringement of the terms of the work contract. In such a situation the employer may refrain from paying the employee’s remuneration for the period of their illness or even dismiss the employee (also for disciplinary reasons), considering hi/hers absence to be unjustified or equal to work abandonment. In some cases, the employer may claim a remuneration for breaking the work contract from the employee. The employer has the right to send a control doctor to the employee’s house. In many companies staff regulations specify the hours at which the employee must be available to the doctor, i.e. at what times (s)he may not leave their flat even if their doctor allows it. If the doctor does not find the employee at home, (s)he will leave an information about the visit and their contact details. In this case, you should contact your control doctor as soon as possible and make an appointment. Otherwise, the employee may lose the right to be paid for the period starting with the doctor’s visit until the moment of the employee turning back to him/her.
HOW TO PROCEED IN CASE OF A WORK CONTRACT TERMINATION?
Each of the parties may terminate the work contract, provided that the periods of notice established in the labour code are observed. The notice must be in writing and must contain the following information:
- - surname, first name and address of the employee,
- - name and address of the employer,
- - starting date of the notice period and its length
The Labour Code clearly defines ways of notifying, failing which it shall not be valid. If the contract is terminated by the employer the notice can be transmitted to the employee solely and exclusively:
- - by registered letter (which is not a priority mail)
- - through a bailiff
Any other way, e.g. notifying verbally, by phone, ordinary letter, or personally against receipt or through third parties is not valid.
If the employee is notified in a way that is inappropriate, (s)he shall not interrupt work under any circumstances. (S)he shall continue to work and make sure to have witnesses. Otherwise, (s)he may become a victim of a dishonest employer who, for example, terminates the contract verbally and then accuses the employee of unjustified absenteeism or of breaking the work contract. If the work contract is terminated by the employee, the notice may be transmitted in three ways:
- - by registered mail (which is not a priority mail),
- - through a bailiff,
- - in person upon confirmation of receipt, i.e. the employer shall sign and provide the date on a photocopy or a second copy of the document.
Also in this case any other way of transmitting the notice is invalid and may cause the employer to accuse the employee of breaking the work contract.
The termination of the work contract requires compliance with the notice period. The notice period depends on the length of service at the current employer and on whether the work contract is terminated by the employer or the employee. During the notice period, the employee performs their work and receives a normal remuneration. The employee is entitled to free time to look for a new job twice a week for half a day. During this absence at work, the employee retains the right to remuneration.
The employee's illness period shifts the notice period only if the work contract is to be terminated by the employer.
Warning: A fixed-term work contract cannot, in principle, be terminated by either party. The termination of a fixed-term contract before term is considered a breach. According to the labour code, the affected party has the right to claim compensation from the party who broke the contract.
WHEN DOES A WORK CONTRACT BREACH OCCUR?
The work contract can be terminated at any time by any of the parties. The point here is to terminate the work contract without a notice period. For most types of work contracts, a unilateral breach entails an obligation to pay compensation to the other party (to the employee by the employer, but also by the employee to the employer).
A breach of a work contract by one of the parties occurs, among others, when:
- - the termination of the work contract took place in an inappropriate manner,
- - the termination of the work contract includes a too short notice period,
- - a disciplinary dismissal occurs on the grounds inacceptable according to the labour court,
- - an early termination of a fixed-term contract occurs.
The amount of compensation for breaking the work contract depends on the type of work contract and the employee's length of service.
TERMINATION OF THE CONTRACT BY MUTUAL CONSENT
The termination of the work contract by mutual consent means that both the employee and the employer agree to terminate the employment relationship.
The termination of the work contract by mutual consent may be applied to any type of work contract. The cooperation shall end on the day on which the agreement is signed.
In this case, neither the notice period nor compensation for the termination of the work contract applies.
One shall remember that signing a work contract termination by mutual consent causes sanctions in case the employee applies for unemployment benefits. This means that even if the employee has worked for the number of days required to grant the right to unemployment benefits, (s)he will receive them no sooner than 13 weeks after their resignation from work. Depending on the circumstances in which the agreement was signed, the waiting period for the right to benefits may be extended up to 52 weeks.
If the employee does not agree to terminate the work contract by mutual consent, (s)he should not sign any documents with the employer. In this way, (s)he will not lose their right to notice period and any potential right to unemployment benefits.
In the event of a serious breach by the employee or the employer of the basic obligations arising from the employment relationship, the other party may terminate the work contract without notice (on disciplinary grounds). The grounds for terminating the work contract on disciplinary grounds may be any breach of the work contract, which definitely prevents any further cooperation between the employer and the employee, e.g. persistent unjustified absenteeism, theft, disclosure of inside business information, masking mistakes, use of violence at work, alcohol consumption during working hours.
The party terminating the contract on disciplinary grounds must notify the other party within three working days, counting from the day on which the event being the grounds of terminating the work contract occurred. The notice may take place solely by sending a registered letter, through a bailiff or can handed in person upon confirmation of receipt on a second copy of the document or a photocopy thereof.
The second obligation of the party terminating the work contract is to provide the grounds for the termination. The grounds for the termination of the work contract must be clearly defined and transmitted in writing.
The other party has the right to contest the grounds and ask the labour court to decide whether the grounds could have been the basis for immediate (disciplinary) dismissal.
Detailed information can be found in the nearest ACV-CSC branch. Addresses and opening hours are to be found at: http://adressen.acv-online.be, http://adresses.csc-en-ligne.be, http://acv-online.be or http://csc-en-ligne.be. Just enter your zip code.