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Belgium: inter-professional collective agreement signed for the implementation of compulsory telework in companies during 2021
Planet Labor, 28 January 2021, n°12338 - www.planetlabor.com

On 26 January 2021, Belgium’s National Labor Council (a joint employer-employee representative body that negotiates inter-professional collective agreements), together with trade union bodies and employers’ organizations concluded an inter-professional collective agreement on telework that is ‘mandatory or recommended by the public authorities as part of the measures taken to combat the spread of the coronavirus.’ Valid until the end of 2021, it has been drawn up as a framework agreement that defines the basis on which company agreements should be concluded. The text does not apply to companies that concluded a collective agreement or that implemented a teleworking policy prior to 01 January 2021. Firstly, the agreement requires that teleworkers retain the same rights and obligations as when they were working on-site, and they must at least be informed of any derogation conditions. In signing an agreement, employers are also required to set out the terms and conditions for the provision of equipment and the coverage of expenses related to telework. While respecting their contractual working hours and maintaining the same workloads, teleworkers are free to organize their work. Employers can monitor their teleworkers, and must inform them of the arrangements for that monitoring. Well-being at work also features prominently in the collective agreement; requiring employers to formulate a well-being policy with the Risk Prevention and Protection at Work committee, the trade union representation, or if both lacking with the employees. This well-being policy must address the psychosocial risks and health aspects related to telework, by providing a multi-risk analysis and proposing preventive measures. Finally, employers must aim to prevent isolation issues by maintaining communication links between workers, and especially for those most at risk of isolation.