BELGIUM: New legislation relating to psychosocial risks (PSR)

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The new legislation defines the scope of PSR, includes them in general risk analysis, defines the role of risk prevention players in the enterprise, modifies internal procedures and introduces the possibility for victims to ask for lump-sum compensation.

The three texts were published in the Belgian official journal (Moniteur Belge) on 28 April 2014:

Definition of the concept of PSR
Until now, the “PSR aspect” of the Act on well-being at work concerned only violence and moral or sexual harassment. The legislator has therefore decided to extend the scope of application to all PSR, clearly defined by the new law. This law stipulates that they must be taken into account in the risk prevention policy of the enterprise like all other risks that could adversely affect the health and safety of workers.

PSR included in general risk analysis for strengthened prevention
Psychosocial risks now form part of the general analysis of risks intrinsically related to the company’s activity. Based on this analysis, measures must be taken to limit potential risks. Individual requests of a collective nature will be handled in priority by the employer in consultation with the Committee (equivalent to the French “CHSCT”) or the trade union delegation.

The person of confidence: A clarified role
The roles of the various players involved in psychosocial risk prevention were clarified, in particular the role of the “person of confidence”. This is an employee of the company who has followed a training course of at least five days on PSR. They can now be consulted by employees who feel they are suffering harm as a consequence of PSR.

The formal or informal request for psychosocial action:
Employees have access to internal procedures which have been extended to all PSR and are no longer limited to situations of violence or harassment at work. They can make a “formal request for psychosocial action” or an “informal request”:

Informal psychosocial action:
The worker can call on the “person of confidence” or a “psychosocial risk prevention consultant” for a request for psychosocial action in order to look for a solution informally (via conversation, involvement of a person from outside the company, or reconciliation). The “psychosocial risk prevention consultant” assists the employer in applying preventive measures relating to PSR. He may work in-house or in an outside occupational health service.

Formal psychosocial action:
The worker can ask the employer in writing to take appropriate preventive measures. This request must be presented to the “psychosocial risk prevention consultant” who will analyse the risks of the applicant’s work situation and give an opinion to the employer. If the PSR persist after implementing the measures or if the employer does not take appropriate measures, the risk prevention consultant refers the case to the Labour Inspectors with the worker’s agreement. The worker can also refer the case to the inspectors himself.
Introduction of lump-sum compensation
The victim of violent behaviour or moral or sexual harassment at work can now apply to the labour tribunal for lump-sum compensation to repair the moral and material damage caused.

The new legislation will come into force on 1 September 2014.

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