The recently adopted "Flexible and Workable Work" act (FWW-act) aims at giving employees more autonomy in managing their working time, and thereby improving their work-life balance, by introducing a legal framework of a "career savings" system (loopbaansparen, compte épargne-carrière).
What is a career savings system?
This system intends to allow employees to save time and/or remuneration in order to convert it later in leave days. Before the entry into force of the FWW-act, such system did not exist under Belgian labour laws.
Who can benefit from career savings ?
This system only applies to employees and employers pertaining to the private sector.
Nevertheless, it is important to highlight that the system is non-compulsory. No employees can be forced to participate to it.
Which time could be saved?
According to the FWW-act, career savings will give to employees the opportunity to save:
- Certain types of overtime
- Conventional vacation days granted by CBA (provided the employees can freely take these days)
- The amount of hours performed above the average weekly working time, and which can be transferred at the end of the reference period (application of flexible working hours)
A royal decree could also expand this saving possibility to premiums (e.g. end-of-year bonus).
Implementation of the system
A career savings system can be introduced by CBA concluded either at national level within the National Labour Council, or at sectoral level within the competent joint committee (commission paritaire, paritair comité).
To introduce a career savings system at sectoral level, a representative of the joint committee or an employer must file a request to the president of the joint committee to introduce a career savings system at sectoral level by concluding a sectoral CBA.
In absence of such sectoral CBA within 6 months after filing of the request, a career savings system can be introduced at company level, i.e. by concluding a CBA at company level.
Such CBA must at least determine:
- Which periods of time can be saved
- The period during which these savings can happen
- How the employees will be able to take up their leave days
- How the saved time will be estimated (i.e. the remuneration entitlement of the employees who will take up their leave day)
- How the system will be managed and the savings guarantees for the employees
- Rules in case of cessation of activities by the employer
The CBA can also foresee the possibility to transfer career savings between employers pertaining to the same sector.
The CBA will also need to consider the gender aspect (i.e. female workers should have the same saving possibilities as the male workers).
End of employment contract
At the end of their employment contract, employees will be entitled to the payment of the time saved.
Managing the system
The system can be managed either by:
- The employer (with necessary guarantees of payment)
- An external institution (e.g. bank or insurance company)
- A social fund (fonds voor bestaanszekerheid, fonds de sécurité d'existence) within the sector
Depending on whether or not a CBA is concluded at national or sectorial level, an employer must assess whether a CBA can be concluded to introduce a career savings system at company level.