Employment programmes for workers aged 45 or older: how to retain or attract older workers?

What measures have you put in place to maintain or increase the number of workers aged 45 or older within your organisation? Collective bargaining agreement no. 104 requires companies with more than 20 employees to draw up an employment programme each year. Here’s an overview of the rules and procedures.

The overall objective of the employment programme is to retain or attract ‘older’ workers by making sure that working conditions are in line with their skills and abilities. Since 2013, it is a legal requirement for all organisations with more than 20 employees to draw up an annual or multi-annual employment programme for workers aged 45 or older.

Do you have more than 20 employees?

The number of employees in your organisation is determined based on the number of full-time equivalents on the first calendar day of the year in which the employment programme is drawn up. This number remains valid for a period of four years.  

Example: if more than 20 people were employed by your company on 2 January 2017, then you will need to draw up an employment programme for workers aged 45 or older. If you didn’t have more than 20 people employed, then you won’t need to do anything until 2020.

Steps to take

1- Drafting an employment programme

An employment programme template can be found on the website of the Federal Public Service for Employment, Labour, and Social Dialogue (Dutch and French only). Choose from a series of (non-exhaustive) target areas, as listed in collective bargaining agreement no. 104:

  • career development and counselling within the organisation;
  • opportunities for employees to transition to more suitable job duties through a system of internal mobility, depending on skills and abilities;
  • options such as modifying working hours and working conditions;
  • elimination of physical and/or psychosocial barriers for career advancement;
  • systems of recognition for acquired competences;
  • etc.


2- Submitting the employment programme

The draft copy of your employment programme for workers aged 45 or older must be submitted to the Works Council within three months after the end of the financial year. For most companies, the deadline is 31 March.

If no Works Council exists within your organisation, then the draft copy of the employment programme must be submitted to the union representation. If there is no union representation, then it must be submitted to the committee for prevention and protection in the workplace (CPPW). If you don’t have a CPPW within your organisation, then the programme must simply be presented to your employees.


3- Feedback and advice

The representatives (one of the above groups) will advise on the employment programme within two months from the date of receipt of the draft copy. The advice and feedback may include additional or alternative proposals. If you decide not to follow the advice provided, then you must substantiate this decision within two months.

If your company employs more than 20 but less than 50 workers and does not have a CPPW or union representation, then you simply need to present the programme to your employees without the need for getting feedback and advice.


4- Informing relevant parties

After completing the above steps, you will need to inform the Works Council (or other representatives, as explained above) about the outcome of the measures implemented.


5- Data retention obligation

You are required by law to retain the employment programme for 5 years.

Questions about the employment programme?

Mensura can help you draw up an employment programme to help retain and attract workers aged 45 or older. Get in touch with us today.