"40% cheaper to sack a white collar worker"

Starting in January Belgian employers see the cost of sacking a white collar worker slashed by up to 40%. The reduction is the result of efforts to provide identical conditions for both blue and white collar workers.

For many years Belgium - after Italy - was the second most expensive country in which to make white collar workers redundant. The present reduction brings Belgium in line with payments in other EU countries.

Nicolaas Vermandel of the lawyers' firm Laga: "If we ignore transitionary measures Belgium is now the 7th most expensive country in which to make white collar workers redundant, after Italy, Spain and the Nordics. We are approaching the European average, but in comparison with our main trading partners, like Germany, we are still expensive. In comparison with our trading partners we are still at a competitive disadvantage."

For blue collar workers, the new unitary provisions that take effect on 1January are an improvement. They will enjoy longer notice periods."