Belgian employment law in Ryanair contracts


The Irish airline Ryanair has decided to integrate Belgian employment law into the contracts of its Belgian employees. The new features and advantages include maternity and paternity leave, as well as bonuses and local Belgian allowances.

From 1 April 2018, the low-cost airline is adding a little Belgian touch to its employment contracts by incorporating elements of Belgian employment law. More specifically, the Irish airline's Belgian employees will now enjoy Belgian minimum allowances such as a six-month probation period. If an employee has a baby, these minimum allowances include four months' parental leave (nine weeks of which are compulsory), as well as 15 weeks' maternity leave (paid for by Belgian social security) or ten days' paternity leave.

But that's not all. In addition to this change, there will be a series of bonuses, including a productivity bonus (up to 1,800 euros a year) for employees without a single absence who remain in service until 31 January 2019. This bonus, which will apply until the end of March 2021, comes in addition to a salary increase of 250 euros per person per year. Another increase of 450 euros is planned for employees who have accumulated 900 hours of work. Ryanair has also announced that employee salaries will increase by another 450 euros a year from April 2019. Lastly, another equally important initiative is the airline's commitment to employ additional personnel.

This is no April Fool's joke, as these improvements in employee working conditions can be explained by the decision of the Mons Labour Court brought by Ryanair cabin crew in 2017. According to the crew, which is based at Charleroi airport, the fact that their "home base" (Charleroi) is clearly stipulated in their contracts justifies their right to be considered as falling under Belgian employment law, which is more favourable and offers more protection than Irish law. The Mons Court then referred the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which ruled in favour of the Ryanair employees.

However, neither the Mons Court nor the CJEU has (yet) ruled on whether or not the employment contract must be amended, or even on whether it must incorporate Belgian law. As a result, the airline decided to take the lead by not only welcoming the Court ruling and the request of its Belgian employees, but also by choosing to incorporate Belgian employment law into its contracts.