Labour law

Minister presents anti-bullying, right to disconnect laws

Labour minister Dan Kersch (LSAP) Photo: Maison Moderne/Archives

Labour minister Dan Kersch (LSAP) Photo: Maison Moderne/Archives

Labour minister Dan Kersch (LSAP) on Wednesday presented three projects aimed at broadening the rights and protection of employees in the areas of bullying in the workplace, the right to disconnect and working reduced hours.

Kersch this week said he would not run for a government position in the next elections but showed that he has ambitious goals for the remainder of his time in office during the press conference on 22 September.

Unlike other countries in the EU, Luxembourg does not have a specific anti-bullying law, with cases treated in court mostly handled under general obligations by employers to ensure safe working conditions. Former labour minister Nicolas Schmit (LSAP) in June 2018 for the first time floated the idea of a dedicated law and his successor finally delivered a draft two years later.

Bullying is “a very controversial and much discussed subject,” said Kersch, adding that the proposed law constitutes “a major advance for labour law.” For the first time, it clearly defines what constitutes bullying and outlines reporting procedures. Bullying is considered as being repetitive and systematic, and it constitutes a desire to hurt the employee's dignity.

This will allow each employee to make a complaint to the ITM labour inspectorate, which will be obliged to compile a report and issue an injunction to the employer to follow its recommendations--failing which an administrative fine may be imposed. The employer will also be obliged to protect their employee and to define all the measures they put in place to prevent bullying.

The bill, which has been approved by the government, will now be discussed in parliament. "I'm sure there will be a lot of discussion about it," said Kersch, who has already had to give up on reversing the burden of proof from the victim to the perpetrator.

Right to disconnect

The bill on the right to disconnect, on the other hand, should be “voted on in chamber very quickly,” said Kersch, who said he was "very happy" that an agreement had been reached between the social partners on this subject.

Although there was a consensus on teleworking in an agreement signed last year, the minister regretted that the right to disconnect was missing and requested for the social partners--employers and trade unions--to draw up a legislative proposal. “I have almost taken it up 100%,” Kersch said.

The new law will introduce into the labour code the obligation for each company to define precisely the rules governing the right to disconnect within the company.

€1bn paid in partial unemployment

With regard to partial unemployment, the ministry proposes to increase the number of hours which each employee is entitled in the course of a year. From the government paying wages for 1,022 hours, the maximum number should be extended to 1,714 hours--subject to a tripartite agreement between employers, trade unions and the government.

Since 2020, partial unemployment has been particularly stretched. Between the covid-19 pandemic and the catastrophic floods in July, more than €1bn were spent by the state on partial unemployment in 2020 and 2021, meaning the government pays 80% of an employees wages in a bid to keep companies from laying off staff in a period of temporary economic downturn.

Working reduced hours has been "a safety net for the whole economy,” minister of the economy Franz Fayot (LSAP) said previously of the scheme. During the strictest lockdown period, almost half of the amount paid out in this framework (€394m) were, however, borrowed and must now be reimbursed by companies.

Additional reporting by Cordula Schnuer

This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.