Q&A – A serious accident at work during a secondment to Belgium: what should you do as an employer?
The temporary employment in your Belgian organisation of employees of foreign employers is called secondment. Such exchanges can lead to complex situations, for example in the event of a serious accident at work. What are your responsibilities in such a case?
Secondment: a broad concept
In order to determine who is responsible for what, we must first define the term ‘secondment’ more clearly. The Belgian Federal Public Service Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue (FOD WASO) defines it as follows:
“An employee is seconded when sent abroad by the employer to work in a foreign country for a specific period of time.”
This broad definition provides a range of possible situations – EU and non-EU countries, interim contracts, etc. – and a jumble of welfare rules and procedures. However, there is one rule of thumb: a detailed report must be drawn up for every serious accident at work on Belgian territory.
The report states, among other things:
- the circumstances and causes of the accident;
- recommendations to avoid similar incidents in the future.
Serious or not?
To determine whether an incident is serious, you can use this table.
Shared responsibilities, shared tasks
If you temporarily employ a foreign employee in Belgium, you and all (foreign) parties involved are responsible for the detailed report reaching the Service for Monitoring Welfare at Work.
Who exactly does what in this process – investigates the accident, draws up the report, sends documents, etc. – is determined by you in a written agreement that you conclude with the other parties involved at the start of the secondment. This contract clearly defines the rights and obligations of all players.
The following elements may be covered:
- the name and position of the employee;
- the duration and place of the secondment;
- a statement that the seconded employee remains under the authority of the seconding employer;
- agreements on the authority that you, as the host employer, have with respect to the employee;
- a statement that you, as the host employer, comply with Belgian welfare legislation.
Therefore, in practice, you are partly responsible for drawing up the detailed report, but you will not always have to draw it up yourself, depending on specific agreements. If the agreement between you and the other parties stipulates that you must draw up the report yourself, you can count on Mensura for this.
Belgian employee abroad
The obligation to draw up a detailed report only applies to seconded employees who are victims of a serious accident at work in Belgium. After all, the welfare law is determined territorially.
If you post an employee abroad and he or she has a serious accident at work there, the local rules in that country apply. It is your responsibility as an employer to check your obligations under local legislation at the start of each secondment and to make clear written agreements with all parties involved.
Prevent accidents at work with a strong prevention policy
Following the procedures correctly in the event of an accident at work is crucial, but preventing accidents is obviously even better. Mensura helps you to assess the risks in your organisation and to develop a customised prevention policy. Read more about our approach or read all the blogs on occupational safety.