Who signs a collective agreement?

In principle, a collective labour agreement must be signed by all the parties involved in the negotiation, otherwise it is null and void.

If, however, only one or more, but not all, of the unions that were part of the negotiating committee wish to sign it, then they must invite the other unions to join in the signing within eight days.

The trade unions contacted have a period of reflection of eight days. If no agreement is reached, the unions that have decided to sign alone may refer the matter to the Minister within eight days of the expiry of the eight-day period for response.

If the trade union(s) wishing to sign alone have a direct or indirect mandate from 50% of the employees falling within the scope of the collective labour agreement, assessed on the basis of the results of the most recent elections for staff delegations in the companies or establishments falling within the scope of the collective labour agreement, then the Minister shall authorise them to sign the collective agreement alone.


When does the collective labour agreement come into effect?

A collective labour agreement can only come into force after it has been approved by the Inspectorate of Labour and Mines (ITM). It is filed there by the most diligent party.

On the proposal of the ITM, the Minister of Labour and Employment issues his decision within 15 days of the submission.

If no decision is taken within 15 days, the agreement lodged with ITM is considered accepted.

A collective agreement that has been lodged and accepted takes effect the day after the date it was lodged, unless the parties have agreed otherwise.

How is the collective labour agreement made known to employees?

The collective agreement shall be brought to the attention of the employees concerned by ¬posting it ¬in appropriate places in their workplaces.

At an employee’s request, this will be sent by e-mail either to the personal e-mail addresses used by employees at the workplace or, if the employees agree, to the employees’ personal e-mail address at home or at their place of ¬residence.

In case it is not possible to send it by e-mail, the collective agreement will be delivered in paper form to the requesting employees, at the expense of the employers concerned.

What is a framework agreement?

By decision of the contracting parties, a collective bargaining agreement which applies to a group or group of undertakings or employers, to a sector or to an industry, may be described as a framework agreement, provided that the collective agreement expressly:

  • states that it is a framework agreement;
  • stipulates with precision the areas or matters to be settled at the lower levels of negotiation, as well as the lower levels at which such negotiation is to take place;
  • provides for the broad principles governing matters whose details may be determined by agreements at lower levels.

Who is covered by the collective labour agreement?

All persons who have signed a collective labour agreement, either personally or through an agent, are subject to its provisions.

An employer bound by a collective agreement must apply it to the entirety of the agreement.

Unless otherwise provided, executives are excluded from the scope of the collective agreement. They may, however, be covered by a specific collective agreement.

What is a senior executive?

A senior executive is an employee who receives significantly higher remuneration than other employees of the company, taking into account the time required to perform the duties.
In addition, an executive must:

  • have real and effective management authority;
  • have tasks involving well-defined authority, a large degree of independence in the organisation of work and a large degree of freedom in working hours, in particular no constraints on working hours.

How long is the collective labour agreement valid?

A collective agreement is valid for at least six months and at most three years from the date of its entry into force.

When can a collective agreement be terminated?

A collective agreement may be terminated in whole or in part before its expiry date, subject to a period of notice (maximum three months) to be determined by the collective labour agreement itself.

What are the effects of a termination?

The termination of an agreement shall constitute a request for the opening of negotiations.

The agreement that has been terminated shall be applicable until the entry into force of a new agreement, but at the latest until the first day of the 12 months following termination, unless the parties agree otherwise.

If the collective agreement is not terminated when it expires, what happens?

An agreement that has not been terminated within the prescribed time and form shall be renewed as an agreement for an indefinite period. It may then be terminated at any time by giving the notice stipulated in the agreement.

If the parties have missed the starting point of the notice period, they may still agree to renegotiate all or part of the agreement. In this case, negotiations must begin no later than six weeks before the expiry date of the agreement.

What are the obligations of the parties while a collective labour agreement is in force?

While a collective labour agreement is in force, the contracting parties are under an obligation to maintain a social truce, i.e. they shall refrain from any action that could jeopardise the fair execution of the collective labour agreement, in particular any strike or lock-out.