What must be included in a collective labour agreement?

Any collective labour agreement must set out, the following, without which it shall be null and void:

  • description of the parties;
  • the professional and territorial scope of the agreement;
  • its date of entry into force, duration and time limits for termination.

It must regulate the following working conditions:

  • the conditions governing the hiring and firing of employees;
  • working hours and their adjustment, overtime and daily and weekly rest periods;
  • public holidays;
  • the applicable leave scheme, including annual leave;
  • the wage system and wage elements by occupational categories.

In addition, every collective agreement must stipulate:

  • increases for night work, which may not be less than 15%;
  • increased pay for arduous, dangerous and unhealthy work;
  • arrangements for implementing the principle of equal pay for men and women;
  • inclusion of procedures for combating sexual and moral harassment, including mobbing.

Secondly, collective agreements must also include the results of collective bargaining, which must cover the following subjects: the organisation of working hours, training policy, maintaining or increasing employment, and equal ­treatment of ­men and women.

Finally, collective agreements must either:

  • lay down the terms and conditions of the continuing training measures which companies must offer to their employees who are absent due to a career break, in particular because of maternity, a training measure or sabbatical leave, in order to enable them to keep up with developments in technology and reproduction processes;
  • determine the conditions under which subordinate agreements may determine such terms and conditions.

Under what condition are stipulations normally contrary to the law valid?

Any provision of a collective agreement that is contrary to laws and regulations is null and void, unless it is more favourable to the employees.

Which court has jurisdiction over disputes arising from a collective labour agreement?

Claims for the interpretation of collective agreements and disputes arising from the implementation of a collective agreement shall fall within the jurisdiction of the Labour Tribunals.

What can a union do in court?

Where a person bound by an agreement brings an action arising from that agreement before the courts, any trade union organisation party to that agreement may always intervene in the proceedings if the resolution of the dispute may be of collective interest to its members.

The trade union organisations that are parties to a collective agreement may bring all actions arising from the agreement on behalf of their members without having to ­prove that they ­have a mandate from the person concerned, provided that this person has been notified and has not stated opposition to this. The person concerned may always intervene in the proceedings begun by the trade union organisation.

However, trade unions may not be either plaintiff or defendant in an action for damages.