Night work is in principle forbidden in Belgium. An employer may thus in principle not set up working shifts between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. Nevertheless, the program act of 25 December 2017 has introduced new processes authorizing Night and Sunday shifts in the field of e-commerce from January 2018 onwards. The ultimate goal is to allow Belgian companies to economically challenge foreign e-commerce companies and to nurture the creation of jobs in Belgium.
In practice, e-commerce means all logistical and support services pertaining to electronic commerce. It involves all activities required to efficiently deliver a product to a customer who placed an order for it online (order processing, wrapping, shipping, delivery, follow up on the flow of goods, storage, inventory management, transportation support, after sale hotline services).
The act clearly differentiates the e-commerce for goods and services from the e-commerce for movable goods.
Milestones to implement night shifts in the field of e-commerce for goods and services
The Peeters act on feasible and handy work had already introduced the possibility to organize night shifts in e-commerce companies. Yet, this derogation could henceforth be implemented by solely resorting to an “ordinary” collective labor agreement. No longer is it required to enter a collective labor agreement involving all the organizations represented among the union delegation. An ordinary collective labor agreement drafted in agreement with a representative organization of the company’s workers shall suffice.
Milestone to implement night and Sunday shifts in the field of e-commerce for movable goods.
A specific legal framework has been set up for e-commerce sensu stricto, i.e. exclusively limited to movable goods (for instance, the sale of insurance products is not targeted by this framework).
In most of the work arrangements envisioned for 2018-2019, companies will be allowed to implement night shifts either by modifying the terms of employment (display, case report form, etc.), or by entering an “ordinary” collective labor agreement. In this second situation the collective labor agreement will have to be deposited at the registry of the Directorate-general for collective relations near the Federal Public Service for Employment. The terms of employment will in turn automatically be altered without having to exert the ordinary amendment procedure for the terms of employment.
This new legal framework shall be applicable from 31 December 2019 so long that the companies decide to enter a new “ordinary” collective labor agreement.
When it comes to Sunday shifts, that kind of work is also authorized in the field of e-commerce for movable goods (services excluded) in 2018-2019 upon the condition that it is introduced via the amendment procedure of the terms of employment or via an ordinary collective labor agreement, following the same principles established for the night shifts.
For more information on this piece of legislation, feel free to contact Carl VANDER ESPT esq. : firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cairn Legal team.