The implications of a strike

Now that there is every likelihood that another national strike is on its way, the question arises what the personal effects are for the strikers in terms of labour legislation. Are strikers entitled to pay and holidays? What are the rights of blue-collar workers and temping staff? What if strikers become involved in an accident?

Effects on your pay

In the first instance, the employer is not obliged to pay strikers, because strictly speaking, they have not done any work. If strikers are affiliated with a union, they will receive a strike allowance of about 25 euros per day through their trade union.

Effects on your paid holidays

The number of the statutory holidays to which employees are entitled is determined on the basis of the number of days the employees have actually worked in the leave cycle (which is the year preceding the year in which the holidays are taken up). In principle, strikers could very well lose holiday days. However, in holiday legislation, some cases of suspension of the performance of the employment contract are also treated as days actually worked. Participation in a strike is considered a day actually worked. So employees do not lose holidays by participating in a strike. For blue-collar workers, there is an additional condition for not losing their holidays: the strike must be recognised by a national trade union (not a local department only).

Effects on illness, child benefit and pension

Equally, in legislation on public holiday pay, sickness insurance, child benefit and retirement, entitlements are granted based on the number of days actually worked. Here too, the strike days are equated with effective working days, so that strikers will ultimately not be disadvantaged.

Effects on public holidays

Employees are, in principle, not entitled to any pay for public holidays if they were absent without reason on the regular working day preceding or following those public holidays. However, participation in a strike in the company is considered a justified absence on condition that that strike has received the consent or support from a national union. If that condition is fulfilled, then the employee will be able to claim the pay for the holiday.

Effects on accidents

If on the way to, or from, the strike, strikers become the victim of an accident or by taking part in the strike itself, become the victim of an accident in the compound of the company, in principle, this will not be recognised as an accident at work. After all, the employee’s accident did not occur during the implementation of the contract of employment.

Effects on temping staff

A special situation is that of temporary staff affected by a strike in the company where they work. By law, they may not be employed in a striking company, even if they wanted to. For them, therefore, this is a situation of force majeure, which allows them to claim unemployment benefits for those strike days.

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