Return to the Claeys formula ... or not?


In 2014, Belgian dismissal law experienced a real upheaval with the introduction of the so-called Single Employment Status Act. Whereas before, a distinction was made between blue-collar and white-collar workers for the calculation of notice periods, and in practice the notice period for the so-called senior white-collar workers (with a gross annual salary exceeding 32,254 EUR) was based on the so-called "Claeys formula", this became a thing of the past as of 2014. Indeed, the new law not only abolished the distinction between the two categories of employees (for notice periods anyway), but also imposed uniform rules on the calculation of notice periods. It therefore seemed that the Claeys formula could be buried for good. 

However, in spring 2023, it looked as if this formula would have to be dusted off again after all.

A law of 20 March 2023 made some changes to the Single Employment Status Act. This law provides that, as of 28 October 2023 (the date the law will enter into force), the notice period in the event of resignation will in any case always be capped at 13 weeks, regardless of whether the employee was already employed before 2014 or only hired afterwards. 

Furthermore, whereas until recently a two-step system always had to be used if the employee was employed before 2014 (a calculation based on seniority acquired until 31 December 2013, added to the calculation of the notice period based on seniority acquired from 2014 onwards), this will no longer be necessary in the future in case of resignation. 

This latest legislative change however did not go flawlessly. In its eagerness, the legislator also wiped out the rule introduced in 2014 that stated that so-called senior white-collar workers who were already employed before 1 January 2014 were entitled to 1 month's notice per year of seniority within the company in case of dismissal. So with the disappearance of this provision, it seemed for a while that the Claeys formula would make a comeback. A draft bill dated 8 September aims to correct this mistake. However, it remains to be seen whether this bill will make it through the legislative process in time, to prevent the Claeys formula from making a reappearance as of 28 October 2023. 

At Reliance Littler, we are following this closely and will keep you informed!