ALTIUS updates

Can Belgian companies use EU vaccine certificates?
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 05 May 2021

To fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU Commission is setting up a vaccine passport system (the so-called 'Digital Green Certificate') to enable European citizens to travel easily and safely within the European Union in Summer 2021. This article examines whether Belgian companies may also use these certificates for other purposes (eg, to authorise or prohibit access to private places depending on a citizen's vaccination status).

Dos and don'ts for employers regarding COVID-19 vaccination
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 21 April 2021

The government's vaccination campaign is now progressing well. Employers are eager to have a large number of their workers vaccinated to be able to work in a safe and healthy environment and resume business as usual. However, can employers force their workers to get vaccinated? Can they ask their workers to submit a vaccination certificate? Must they grant their workers paid leave of absence to get vaccinated? This Q&A answers these and other questions.

New monthly online COVID-19 telework registration obligation for employers from April 2021
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 14 April 2021

As many employers either have not been or have been insufficiently respecting compulsory teleworking, the government has enhanced the monitoring of compulsory teleworking by introducing a new online registration obligation for employers. From April 2021, every employer must submit a monthly declaration via the National Social Security Office's online portal by the sixth calendar day of each month.

Social inspection audits in construction sector: what to expect in 2021
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 31 March 2021

The Social Information and Investigation Service (SIOD/SIRS) recently published its 2021 action plan revealing its strategy and top priorities for the year. Similar to recent years, the construction sector remains a target. This article summarises what employers can expect in 2021 and how they can prepare, based on the SIOD/SIRS checklist.

ECJ partially upholds Belgium's docker rules
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 10 March 2021

In a long-awaited court ruling, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) confirmed that the Belgian rules on dock work, obliging companies to have only recognised dockers carry out dock work in ports, do not necessarily constitute a violation of the free movement of workers, the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services. However, the ECJ rejected several parts of the recognition procedure of such dockers. Legislative changes are now inevitable.

New National Labour Council collective labour agreement sets framework for COVID-19 teleworking
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 17 February 2021

Traditionally, Belgian labour law has distinguished between two forms of telework: structural and occasional telework. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a third category has been added: COVID-19 telework, which was previously recommended but has now been made compulsory again by the government. The National Labour Council has now concluded Collective Labour Agreement Number 149, which creates the legal framework for COVID-19 teleworking.

Must AstraZeneca supply the European Union with sufficient COVID-19 vaccines under Belgian law?
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 10 February 2021

AstraZeneca recently announced that it would reduce the supply of its COVID-19 vaccine to the European Union in the first quarter of 2021 to 31 million doses. Questions have therefore arisen as to what extent AstraZeneca is under a contractual obligation to supply the European Union with the initially planned 80 million doses, and what role its UK manufacturing sites should play in this regard. To answer these questions, this article examines the parties' rights and obligations under Belgian law.

Occupational doctors' enhanced role in combating COVID-19: contact tracing, quarantine certificates and testing
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 10 February 2021

A new royal decree has temporarily extended occupational doctors' role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic in the workplace. Occupational doctors will be contact tracers in the workplace and in this context have been given the authority to identify high-risk contacts in the company, issue a quarantine certificate for these workers and refer certain workers to be tested.

Obligations and checks relating to foreign workers and self-employed individuals extended to all sectors and industries
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 03 February 2021

As part of measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the government imposed a new record-keeping obligation and compliance check on certain employers and users which temporarily rely on foreign employees or self-employed individuals. The government has extended these obligations to all sectors and industries. In addition, foreign workers and self-employed individuals must, under certain circumstances, provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test.

Dawn raid's illegality does not automatically void subsequent request for information
ALTIUS
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Belgium
  • 21 January 2021

The Market Court of the Brussels Court of Appeal recently ruled in a case involving a Belgian telecoms operator, which had been ongoing for more than a decade. In this latest judgment, the Market Court ruled on the effects of a dawn raid's illegality and confirmed the two-step test for determining the same.

BCA suspects Caudalie of imposing minimum resale prices on distributors and limiting active and passive online sales
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 20 January 2021

Following dawn raids carried out in 2018, the Belgian Competition Authority's Investigation and Prosecution Service has opened an investigation regarding alleged anti-competitive practices committed by Caudalie, a French cosmetics company specialising in vinotherapy, after a Belgian pharmacist complained that his supplier was imposing a pricing policy on him.

BCA suspects Caudalie of imposing minimum resale prices on distributors and limiting active and passive online sales
ALTIUS
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Belgium
  • 14 January 2021

Following dawn raids carried out in 2018, the Belgian Competition Authority's Investigation and Prosecution Service has opened an investigation regarding alleged anti-competitive practices committed by Caudalie, a French cosmetics company specialising in vinotherapy, after a Belgian pharmacist complained that his supplier was imposing a pricing policy on him.

Which COVID-19 vaccines are on the menu for Belgium?
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 23 December 2020

Belgium is following the lead of the European Commission and the European Medicines Agency with respect to its COVID-19 vaccine strategy. The European Commission, on behalf of EU member states, has already concluded six advance purchase agreements with vaccine suppliers for a potential total of almost 2 billion doses. Belgium's share presently amounts to a total of 22.4 million vaccines. Purchasing is expected to begin in early January 2021.

District cells' social fraud inspection audits focus on construction sector
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 16 December 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has not prevented the Social Information and Investigation Service from proceeding with its inspection audits concerning illegal employment and social fraud. The available (provisional) data reveals that the construction sector has remained a highly targeted sector. This article highlights some interesting recent findings.

First Belgian ruling on abuse of economic dependence
ALTIUS
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Belgium
  • 03 December 2020

In August 2020 a new act introducing a prohibition on the abuse of economic dependence entered into force in Belgium. In October 2020 the president of the Ghent Commercial Court has issued a judgment in the first abuse of economic dependence case in Belgium. As there is no equivalent prohibition in EU competition law, practitioners have been waiting for case law guidance on how to apply these conditions. However, it is questionable whether this first case provides such valuable guidance.

Points for retail sector employers to consider when dismissing employees for economic or technical reasons
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 02 December 2020

The retail sector has been one of the sectors most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result employers therein might be considering dismissing employees for economic or technical reasons. Employers must be aware that most joint committees in the retail sector have entered into collective bargaining agreements obliging employers to first take measures to avoid dismissals and, if dismissals cannot be avoided, to comply with a specific procedure.

Employers must provide employees present in workplace with document to certify this fact
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 18 November 2020

The new Ministerial Decree of 1 November 2020 stipulates that, until 13 December 2020, all workers must telework. However, an exception applies when either an employee's role or the continuity of business operations, activities and services does not allow for teleworking. In such cases, employers must provide the worker with a certificate or other supporting document attesting that their presence in the workplace is needed. The minister of internal affairs has already announced that inspections will be organised.

Can parallel importers rebrand generic medicines?
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 04 November 2020

If a branded medicine and its generic version are put on the EEA market by economically linked undertakings, is a parallel importer then allowed to rebrand and repackage the imported generic version as the branded reference medicine? This issue recently led the Brussels Court of Appeal to refer three questions to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). In anticipation of the ECJ's ruling, this article provides the factual background and explains why a parallel importer should not be allowed to rebrand in such cases.

New teleworking rules to limit further spread of COVID-19
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 28 October 2020

The government recently reinforced the urgent measures to limit the further spread of COVID-19. Teleworking is no longer highly recommended, but has become the standard for all employees whose roles allow for telework. Yet, the new rule is less far-reaching than that in place during the first lockdown, as an exception now applies when the continuity of business operations, activities and services does not allow for teleworking.

Last call to implement electronic voting or voting by letter for COVID-19-proof social elections
ALTIUS
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Belgium
  • 21 October 2020

In principle, companies should have decided whether to vote electronically in the social elections as early as February 2020. However, companies that did not do so but, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, would like to do so now have been given the opportunity to introduce electronic voting. However, they must reach an agreement on this issue by Day X+56 (ie, between 13 October 2020 and 26 October 2020, depending on the new election date).

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