Home » This will change from today: civil servant wages, particulate filters, betting offices and care for young people with cancer

This will change from today: civil servant wages, particulate filters, betting offices and care for young people with cancer

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Higher wages for civil servants

Civil servants’ wages will increase by 2 percent from December. This is the result of the exceedance of the central index at the end of October.

In November, social benefits had already increased by 2 percent due to the exceedance of the central index, and civil servant wages will also rise in December.

Replace particulate filter

The period to repair a defective particulate filter will be shortened to three months from December 1.

In response to the supply problems of new particulate filters, the period was extended to one year in November last year, but that arrangement is now coming to an end.

Since July 1, 2022, the emissions of diesel cars in Belgium have been tested during technical inspection. This control is intended to combat particulate filter fraud and improve air quality by reducing particulate matter emissions. When the test was introduced, rejected cars with more than 1 million measured particulate matter particles per cubic centimeter had to have a new particulate filter installed within fifteen days. Due to delivery problems, that deadline turned out to be unfeasible.

The current rejection limit should mainly remove highly polluting vehicles from traffic. The particulate filter of these cars is often broken or removed. The test is therefore an important instrument to improve the environment and health.

A properly functioning particulate filter removes 95 to 99 percent of particulate emissions.

© BELGIUM

“Since July 1, 2022, 90.7 percent of the diesel cars tested passed the particle counter test,” said Raph Verbruggen, managing director of GOCA, the Flemish expertise center for car inspection, in September, when the amended scheme was announced. “A defective particulate filter was found in more than 82,000 vehicles (out of a total of 881,876). That number of vehicles produces as many particulate matter particles as more than 10 million vehicles that have a functioning particulate filter.”

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Customized care for young people with cancer

From December, adolescents and young adults with cancer can receive tailor-made care through new reference teams. They consist of physician specialists, nurses, social workers and psychologists and meet the age-specific needs of young people.

Minister of Social Affairs and Health Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) announced earlier this month that he is releasing 1.2 million euros annually to finance reference teams for young people with cancer in six hospitals. Their focus is mainly on the quality of life and the psychosocial well-being of young people.

In a later phase, the reference teams will take on an advisory role for healthcare providers from other hospitals and home care, so that they can also offer tailor-made care to young people with cancer.

Identity checks in betting shops

Betting companies must carry out identity checks again from December 1 to check whether their customers are of legal age and whether or not they are on the excluded persons list (EPIS).

In casinos, arcades and online betting, players have been required to register for more than a decade so that it can be checked whether they are not on the excluded list. The EPIS list should help protect people with gambling problems from themselves. But the problem has partly shifted to betting shops. People who are no longer allowed to gamble could still go there.

Theme image. — © Walter Saenen – WAS

Former Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD) developed a royal decree that extended EPIS control to betting offices from October 1, 2022, but a judge suspended that kb in early 2023. The Belgian state appealed and on October 24 the appeals court overturned the suspension. As a result, betting shops will have to re-check whether or not every gambler is on the EPIS list from 1 December 2023.

Confidential advisor

From December 1, companies that employ at least fifty people must appoint at least one internal confidential counselor who is part of the staff.

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The change in law is part of the measures to implement the Federal Action Plan for Mental Well-being at Work and aims to increase the presence of confidential counselors in companies. The mandatory appointment of at least one internal confidential counselor also guarantees that employees always have access to a confidential counselor who has sufficient knowledge of the structure, operation and culture of the company.

In companies with fewer than fifty employees, the appointment of a confidential counselor remains an option. The employer is only obliged to appoint a confidential counselor if all members of the trade union delegation or, if there is none, all employees themselves request this from the employer.

New CEO of the Flemish Energy and Climate Agency

Samir Louenchi will become the new CEO of the Flemish Energy and Climate Agency (VEKA) on December 1. He succeeds Luc Peeters.

Louenchi has an N-VA stamp. He worked as a private secretary and deputy chief of staff to ministers Geert Bourgeois, Liesbet Homans and Zuhal Demir.

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