Personnel consultation procedure
In most situations, dialogue between the employer and each of his or her employees individually is more than sufficient, whether it be to modify the employment contract or to resolve certain conflicts.
In some specific cases, individual dialogue with employees is not sufficient. The law provides for situations in which the employer must consult all of his or her employees. In these cases, all employees or their representatives must be able to meet and consult with each other.
The employees’ organization is the employer's privileged interlocutor when he has the obligation to consult his staff. It facilitates the social dialogue with the employer, in particular when the company has a large number of employees.
At the request of a part of the employees, the employees can organize a vote and create an employees’ organization under certain conditions. If there is no employees’ organization, the employer must consult all employees in the cases provided for by law.
Economic crises are often associated with restructuring and, sometimes, mass redundancies. The employer must set up a specific and formal procedure for consulting the personnel.
In order to cope with a crisis, the employer may also be forced to reduce the salary or increase the working hours of a large part of his employees, by means of a modification-leave. The employer must be vigilant. Under certain conditions, the employer must first respect the consultation procedure with the personnel provided for in the event of mass redundancies before proceeding with the modification-leaves.
Consultation procedure in case of mass redundancy
In case of mass redundancy, the employer must consult his staff as soon as he is planning to proceed to a mass redundancy. This principle is also applicable when the decision to proceed with a mass redundancy is taken by the parent company, in an international group of companies, and the company has no influence over this decision.
The employer is obliged to provide a certain amount of information to the employees in order to enable them to formulate proposals to avoid redundancies, reduce their number or mitigate their consequences.
The employer must also inform the competent authority of its mass redundancy project. After the consultation procedure, the employer is still obliged to notify the competent authority of the mass redundancy when the decision is taken. The employment relationship may not be terminated before a certain period of time after this notification.
Depending on the size of the company, the employer will have to negotiate a social plan for the benefit of the dismissed employees with an obligation of result.
If the employer violates the mass redundancy procedure, he is liable to pay compensation for wrongful termination to all dismissed employees.
Transfer of business
When the employer announces that the business will be transferred to a purchaser who will become the new employer, many employees are concerned. They are concerned about what will happen to their employment contracts and when the business will actually be transferred.
The employer has an obligation to inform and/or consult with his or her employees. The employees have the right to suggest measures to limit the risks of the transfer of business on their situation.