par Planet Labor
On July 9, 2007, during the National Labor Council, the Belgian social partners adopted a recommendation aimed at the social partners at the sectoral and company level to keep older workers at work. The text explains who to carry out one of the provisions of the intergenerational pact, which consists in informing older employees performing "heavy labor" about lighter jobs that become available in the company to enable them to apply.
This recommendation aims at enforcing one of the commitments taken by the national social partners as part of the intergenerational solidarity pact (see our article No. 06733). This commitment concerns "the sectors, the companies and their workers", and consists in informing older workers performing a "heavy job" – and who ask for it – about "lighter jobs" becoming vacant in the company (and even train to attain it).
Proactive personnel management. The Council invites the sectors and, through them, the companies, to develop "proactive personnel management, taking into account the worker’s age, and the problem of the quality of jobs which should specifically be given to this target audience." "This personnel management policy can lead the employer to offer lighter positions to the company’s oldest workers" specifies the recommendation. "As a consequence, the employer is entitled to expect that these workers will actively take part in the search of suitable jobs within the company".
Initiative from the employee. Access to training for vacant positions could be organized this way: a) the initiative to ask for a lighter job must come from an employee aged 45 and more. He must tell the employer about "his interest and motivations" for this job. "Heavy work is what the worker himself sees as too difficult regarding its individual capacities" says the recommendation, "and when the lighter job doesn’t bring negative consequences." Then, the employer will provide, for six months (after which the employee will have to make another request), information concerning the vacant jobs in the company which suit his demand.
Consultation with the staff representatives. The information modalities will be detailed after consultation with the staff representatives. For instance, it could be based on individual information for workers over 45 or on collective information, indicating the frequency of the update of the list of vacant jobs. If the employee takes a vacant job proposed by the employer, it could lead to "a training offer for the older employee, an adjustment of his workstation, an increase in the process of exchange of know-how to the new workers…" In addition, the social partners want "temporary financial compensation", paid for by a fund outside the company "for the worker who takes a lighter job after the age of 50 if there is a decrease in his salary."
Planet Labor, July 24, 2008, No. 080610 – www.planetlabor.com