Employee’s Waiver of Rights

The King can relinquish his claim to the throne. But can his subjects also waive their rights as employees vis-à-vis their employer? Could employees waive, for example, their rights to wages, a thirteenth-month bonus, bank holiday pay, holiday money, severance pay ... if they did not wish to receive this?

Timing is important

When answering this question, it is crucial to consider the moment when the employee implements this waiver. It is clearly forbidden, in terms of employment law, for an employee to waive certain rights before they have been created. Payments cannot be waived prior to them having been paid out. This means that the employment contract cannot contain an agreement with respect to an employee not having a right to an end-of-year premium, if this is a component of a collective labour agreement for the sector.

Once the payment has been made

An employee can, however, lawfully waive their rights, once they have been created. Once a thirteenth-month bonus for the previous year has been acquired at the beginning of the subsequent year, employees can then agree with their employer that they do not wish to receive this payment. This type of agreement would have to be totally transparent and examined very carefully. The specific circumstances under which the agreement was drawn up would also have to be checked very closely. The agreements, after all, would have to be drafted while the employee was under the authority of the employer.

After termination of an employment contract

By definition, this issue, does not apply when employees are being dismissed, given that they are recovering their full freedom. An ex-employee can thus go a fairly long way in terms of waiving acquired rights. Accordingly, compensation for dismissal which is even lower than the legal minimum can be agreed. In fact, severance pay is not mandatory. At the end of the contract in this type of situation, wages, holiday money, non-competition payments, goodwill indemnity, and so on, could all be revoked in an agreement.

During the notice period

Be aware that if employees must work their notice, the employment contract runs on. Consequently, it can be assumed that employees may only waive their rights once the termination notice has taken effect. This is the fourth working day after sending the registered letter announcing the termination. In the event of immediate severance with severance pay, an agreement can be drafted immediately thereafter.


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