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Staffing firms will be providing candidates to employers to fill permanent jobs from September 1st. The client will be able to try the candidate on a temporary contract before hiring.
Before the new law published earlier this month, temporary work agencies could only provide workers to end-user businesses on temporary assignments. Furthermore the use of temporary agency workers was highly regulated as it had to fall under one of the prescribed reasons: to replace an absent permanent employee worker, to replace a permanent employee who was dismissed, or to face a temporary rise in demand. With the new law, staffing firms will able to improve their strategic partnership with employers and help find suitable candidates for hard-to-fill positions.
Employers will be allowed to use temporary workers on a try-and- hire basis. For every vacancy an employer could try up to three candidates. The employment contract must have a minimum duration of one week and up to 6 months; the total duration of the try-and-hire process for the same position cannot exceed nine months. Prior to that, union representative be informed but their consent is not necessary.
The Belgian staffing industry has already praised the new law in the press. According to Arnaud Le Grelle, Director at the Belgian association, Federgon, for the Wallonia and Brussels regions, “the law is an official recognition that the staffing industry can help businesses in the long term”. Marc Vandeleene, spokesperson for ManpowerGroup in Belgium said, “we have been hoping for a modernisation of the 1987 law, which no-longer matched the requirements of the labour market and the staffing industry.” Adding: “Temporary workers are regularly offered permanent roles following successful assignments, but the new law provides some legal ground for this practice for the first time.”
In a statement, the Neutral Union for the Self-Employed (Neutraal Syndicaat voor Zelfstandigen, NSZ), the new law “will be beneficial to SME’s, as they are currently struggling to find the right employees”. The same press release adds: “temporary work agencies are now part of the official hiring channels, which will make recruiting a lot more flexible for businesses.”
If the temporary worker is a suitable candidate, then they will have to be hired on the basis of a contract of indefinite duration. The duration of the temporary contract will count towards seniority, and should be deducted from the trial period if applicable to permanent employees at the employer’s premises. Finally, buyers of contingent labour should keep in mind that in case of abuse, the customer will be responsible according to the new law.