by Elissa Vantomme and Ellen Verstraete
On 1 July 2022, the Belgian Official Gazette published the Law of 28 April 2022 containing Book 1 “General Provisions” of the Civil Code. These provisions stipulate that working days are all days other than public holidays, Sundays and Saturdays. The law enters into force on 1 January 2023, meaning that from this date, Saturday is no longer considered a normal working day.
As up till now, Saturday was also considered a working day, you will need to interpret the various time limits in labour law expressed in working days differently from now on. Examples include the three-day periods in the event of dismissal for urgent cause and the date of dispatch for a termination letter.
To invoke urgent cause, the person effecting a dismissal must do so within three days of gaining sufficient justifying knowledge. After dismissal, the employee must be notified of the reason within another three working days. At the moment, an employer who learns about an employee’s serious deficiency on Wednesday has until Saturday at the latest to dismiss them for urgent cause. The changes in the Civil Code mean that, in principle, from January 2023 this term will be extended to Monday.
What about termination letters? Currently, a termination letter is considered to have effect on the third working day following the date of dispatch. The notice period then goes into effect the next Monday after the week in which the notice was given. In other words, a termination letter sent on Wednesday has effect on Saturday, as this is the third day after the date of dispatch. The notice period then goes into effect the following Monday. Thanks to the changes to the Civil Code, faster action will be required from now on. For a notice period to start on Monday, the letter will need to be sent by Tuesday at the latest.
Do you have any questions or require further information? Please do not hesitate to contact our socio-legal team.
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