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Belgium – Bill on temporary agency work approved

07 June 2013

Following lengthy debates with social partners last year, a bill on temporary agency work was approved by the Belgian parliament on Thursday, according to local media reports. This will restrict the use of successive one-day contracts in the recruitment industry.

The bill is set to “modernise” the staffing industry in Belgium, one of the most regulated markets in Europe, although critics think otherwise.

The use of successive one-day contracts will be limited and can only be used repeatedly by the same user company if it can prove an absolute need for such contracts. In other words, a user company has to prove the need for labour flexibility in order to justify the use of such one-day contracts. Employers will have to pay compensation to the agency workers if they fail to do so. Politicians had argued that these one-day contracts have caused much job insecurity among temporary agency workers and have therefore been keen to restrict their use.

Belgium remains one of the most restrictive markets for temporary labour and critics say this legislation creates more obligations for employers at a time when the EU Agency Work Directive is supposed to be encouraging European governments to remove unnecessary restrictions. But unions have welcomed the move.

According to the bill, the so-called 48-hour rule, which allows for a written employment contract to be produced within 48 hours from the start of the assignment, will also be phased out.

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