New statute for federal civil servants

Following proposals made in June 1997, a new statute for Belgian federal civil servants will come into force at the beginning of 1998. The aim is to create a more flexible, better trained and more motivated public service.

In June 1997, André Flahaut, the minister for civil service affairs, proposed a number of measures which constitute a new statute for about 100,000 federal civil servants. The cabinet accepted his proposals, which will become operational on 1 January 1998. The most important changes are to be found in recruitment, appraisal and disciplinary procedures for public servants and new measures to increase mobility within the civil service.

The current system of centralised entrance exams for civil servants will be amended because it is considered by many to be unwieldy and sluggish. The new measures include a more flexible system of examinations which should also help prevent a continuing politicisation of the recruitment process.

The new appraisal and disciplinary procedures certainly represent a break with past customs and practices. In the past civil servants could hardly be dismissed at all, with cases of theft and violence on the job being the main exceptions. The new statute envisages annual or triannual appraisals which will lead to dismissal if two consecutive unsatisfactory marks have been given. A similar system will apply to top civil servants.

A third set of measures is intended to increase functional and organisational mobility. It will become easier for different federal departments to transfer civil servants on account of function and specific qualifications. This will ease imbalances in staffing and help to restructure parts of the civil service. Another aspect concerns facilitating mobility of individual public servants between different parts of the federal system and between different jobs within the system.

By introducing this new statute the Federal Government hopes to create a modernised public service - that is, one that is more flexible, better trained and more motivated.

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