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EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level policy measures

Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure BE-2020-17/845 – measures in Belgium

Social partners set out general guidelines for return to work

Tekst van de sociale partners aangaande richtlijnen om terug aan het werk te gaan

Country Belgium , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 23 April 2020
Context COVID-19
Type Non-binding recommendations or other texts
Category Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Occupational health and safety
Author Dries Van Herreweghe (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) and Eurofound
Measure added 13 May 2020 (updated 20 September 2022)

Background information

In order to assist companies in the gradual reconstruction of economic activities, the social partners of the High Council for Prevention and Protection at Work, the Policy Unit of the Minister for Employment and experts from the Federal Governmental Services for Employment have worked out a generic guide in consultation, with the generic toolbox drawn up by the Economic Risk Management Group serving as a valuable source of inspiration.

The members of the Group of 10 (a bipartite body consisting of the chairmen and women of the representative employee and employers' federations) have appropriated this guide and will disseminate and recommend it to their members. They will also ask the chairperson of the National Labour Council to transmit the guide to the chairpersons of the joint committees, who can use it for restarting work in sectors and companies when this is allowed.

Content of measure

This guide provides a framework of measures to be tailored in turn by each different sector and by each employer to ensure that activities can be restarted in the safest and healthiest conditions possible so that a new peak of coronary events can be avoided.

At the same time, this guide also offers support to companies and/or sectors that have not had an interruption of their activities. These have of course already taken the necessary measures to ensure the continuity of their activities during the period of lockdown. They can compare the measures already taken with those in the guide, which can form be a source of inspiration in this respect.

Use of measure

The text is a guideline and not binding. How much it will ultimately be consulted and put into practice is therefore not measured. It is open to all sectors and companies, so the target audience is therefore very wide. The social partners have promised to promote it to their members as well as all joint committees.

One of the first sectors to implement the guide, per agreement, was the metal and technology sector. As per agreement, the guide applies to all companies within these sectors, that is to those which are part of the joint committees (JC) in the metal and technological sector, namely JC 111 (for blue collar workers) and JC 209 (for white collar workers).

In addition to the generic guide, the sectoral agreement contains a chapter on the importance of social dialogue and communication in the workplace, risk analysis, attention for the health of employees, attention for psychosocial support for employees and a procedure for preventive measures.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Social partners jointly
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Consulted Consulted
Form Consultation through tripartite or bipartite social dialogue bodies Consultation through tripartite or bipartite social dialogue bodies

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Unknown
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown


The social partners have been asked specifically to draft guides on how companies and employees are able to return to work safely. They are therefore very much involved.

Views and reactions

The social partners within the High Council for Prevention and Protection at the workplace have cooperated with the ministry of Work and the Federal Public Services for employment.



Eurofound (2020), Social partners set out general guidelines for return to work, measure BE-2020-17/845 (measures in Belgium), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.