Our services

We mainly offer our services to corporations and to public administrations. We also assist managers and company directors who have specific needs in social law and HR-tax law.

Large companies

Sotra assists many large companies representing key sectors of our economy, from air and rail transport, through distribution, health and hospitals, to finance and retail.

Our services include:

  • Most large companies have an HR or legal department to handle employment law matters.

    We work hand in hand with your HR and legal people when you face complex or fundamental issues that need outside support. In these kinds of situations, our employment law expertise and access to an extensive repository of documentation mean your internal specialists can focus on their jobs.

  • All large companies have a works council, health and safety at work committee and trade union chapter. If you deal with these representative bodies on a daily basis, certain sensitive questions may require the assistance of outside support.

    We help you during in-house staff elections (including appeals) and during the appointees’ term in office: laying down operating rules, powers and remits, reorganisation procedures, litigation, and so on.

    Our offering also includes assistance in workforce negotiations, industrial disputes (strikes, lock-outs) or dismissal procedures involving protected employees.

  • When a dispute arises, we encourage our clients to negotiate a settlement. However, in some cases, litigation just cannot be avoided.

    Sotra's lawyers regularly plead before the labour courts in proceedings conducted in French and Dutch. Our experience covers both individual and collective disputes, classically involving the dismissal of employee representatives, strikes or reorganisations.

    If both sides agree to mediation, we also guide our clients through that process.

  • Besides basic salary, most companies offer their staff non-statutory benefits and variable pay. If alternative pay methods are not set up properly, they can end up giving you an unpleasant surprise when the tax or social security inspectors descend, or when an employee quits their job.

    To avoid this, we carry out a full audit of your current situation. We immediately identify the practices that need reviewing and identify opportunities that you may have overlooked thus far and that might offer you savings.

    We assist you in implementing all the suggested changes, from A to Z.

  • Some departures from the company merit special attention and treatment due to the strategic or financial issues at stake.

    We support you in every stage of these sensitive operations: preparation and computations, presentation of the various scenarios, designing the end-of-career package, and confidential negotiations.

    Where possible, we look for a win-win solution for both parties.

  • Employment law is a highly regulated area and compliance is closely monitored by the authorities. In an audit (e.g. social security, tax, the manpower inspectorate, welfare at work checks), we help you prepare for the visit and the hearings. We analyse the situation and identify the potential issues to be discussed.

    At the hearings, we remain at your side and provide you with advice on how best to proceed. We negotiate with the authorities and, if matters escalate, represent you before the labour prosecutor or in the civil and criminal courts.

  • Thanks to its geographical location and the presence of international institutions, Belgium has many assets to attract multinationals and foreign executives.

    While some companies have the resources to coordinate the international mobility of their staff, they do not always possess the legal knowledge to handle all its consequences (in terms of taxation, social security or immigration).

    We advise our clients on setting up the best-suited structures for international mobility (secondment, transfer, expatriation, special tax treatment, split payroll, etc.), in managing their tax and social security obligations and in reviewing their current situation. We also provide solutions for reducing the budgets committed to international mobility programmes.

Public Sector

Sotra’s clientele comprises various government bodies, local authorities and public-law corporations.

We advise them in respect of both civil service law and the employment of contract employees and assist them in litigation matters.

Our expertise for such public sector employers encompasses a wide range of issues, including:

  • Whenever a dispute arises concerning the manner in which the status of civil service personnel is to apply, we endeavour to achieve a solution without the disagreement having to be settled by a court (including the Supreme Administrative Court).

    In some cases, this can entail us having to confer with the public employer to determine what adjustments to the civil service status might be desirable in order to avoid similar cases in future.

    Disciplinary proceedings and the imposition of penalties require thorough preparation. We assist employers in due and proper application of the rules governing the status their own civil service staff and in applying the General Principles of Proper Administration, which have a large role to play in such cases.

    Where proceedings are nonetheless unavoidable, we have experience in handling disputes before the regular courts and the Supreme Administrative Court.

  • Given that the formal and substantive duty to state grounds is up for discussion in virtually every procedure for suspension and setting-aside of an official legal act, thorough preparation is required for legal proceedings involving administrative law.

    We assist public employers in assessing the manner in which the file is compiled (the substantive grounds) and in drafting the decision’s grounds themselves (formal grounds).

    Thus, we proactively work to prevent potential proceedings being raised.

  • In many public offices and public corporations, contract staff are also employed, often alongside statutory employees. As regards a host of aspects within the employment regulations, these employees occupy a grey area between private and public law, and not every situation is expressly covered by the legislation.

    We assist public employers in resolving the complex issues that can arise in this context.

    Moreover, Sotra’s lawyers also have extensive experience of assisting in dismissal cases, including dismissal for urgent causes.

  • Public employers, too, can be required to adjust their organisation and modus operandi. This can entail the restructuring, cessation or transfer of certain activities.                             

    Our lawyers assist public employers in searching for specific solutions and a means for implementing such reorganisations within the specific public-sector regulatory framework.

    We offer our experience in organising collective accords with employer/employee representatives and in the practical implementation of a reorganisation.

  • Les avocats de Sotra ont acquis une large expérience en matière de licenciement des travailleurs contractuels du secteur public, en ce compris le licenciement pour motif grave.

    Ils s’assurent que le licenciement envisagé réponde aux exigences légales imposées par le droit du travail (calcul de préavis, outplacement,…) mais aussi aux contraintes nouvelles qui s’appliquent désormais de manière spécifique aux employeurs publics notamment en matière de motivation et d’audition préalable du travailleur.

    Ils accompagnent les employeurs publics dans la mise en œuvre des procédures spécifiques prévues par la loi (e.a. régimes de protection) ou qu’ils auraient le cas échéant instaurées.

  • Les employeurs publics peuvent également être contraints d’adapter leur organisation au moyen de restructurations, de cessations ou de transferts d’activités déterminées.

    Nos avocats assistent les employeurs publics en élaborant des solutions concrètes qui permettent de réaliser ces opérations en tenant compte des spécificités du cadre réglementaire propre au secteur public.

    Nous mettons notre expérience à profit lors de la négociation avec les partenaires sociaux ainsi que lors de la mise en œuvre effective de la réorganisation.

  • Nous conseillons les employeurs publics dans leurs rapports avec les organismes de sécurité sociale (ONSS, …) et lors de contrôles de l’inspection.

    Nous les assistons dans le suivi des dossiers en matière d’accident de travail ou de maladie professionnelle.

    Nous les représentons également en justice dans ces matières.

SMEs

SMEs are the economic heart of Belgium. Sotra's service offering is broad but, by taking their size and specific requirements into account, is eminently suited to their needs. Our range of services specially aimed at SMEs includes:

  • Work regulations are an essential document in any company. Apart from their compulsory parts, we’ll recommend optional provisions designed to protect your company’s interests. Just using a standard template is not the best, or most professional, approach to ensuring compliance and protection of your interests.

    Our offering includes an audit of your current work regulations and internal procedures (internet, car policy, etc.), followed by a review or revamp of the relevant documentation for an agreed, fixed fee.

  • Every company needs work schedules that take proper account of their business and the constraints they operate under. In this highly regulated field, we can help you draw up schedules that match your needs and your workers’ work patterns.

    We’ll also assist you in setting up new modes of working, such as teleworking and mobile work.

  • Besides basic salary, most SMEs offer their staff non-statutory benefits and variable pay. If alternative pay methods are not set up properly, they can end up giving you an unpleasant surprise when the tax or social security inspectors descend, or when an employee quits their job.

    To avoid this, we carry out a full audit of your current situation. We immediately identify the practices that need reviewing and identify opportunities that you may have overlooked thus far and that might offer you savings.

    We assist you in implementing all the suggested changes, from A to Z.

  • Works councils, health and safety at work committees, trade union chapters: crossing various workforce thresholds entails different degrees of employee participation in certain aspects of managing your business.

    We help you with all queries relating to your social partners: setting up in-house staff elections, by-laws, powers and remits, restructuring procedures, disputes, etc.

    Our offering also includes support during negotiations, industrial disputes (strikes, lock-outs) and representing your company in dismissal procedures involving protected workers.

  • When a dispute arises, we encourage our clients to negotiate a settlement. However, in some cases, litigation just cannot be avoided.

    Sotra's lawyers regularly plead before the labour courts in proceedings conducted in French and Dutch. Our experience covers both individual and collective disputes, classically involving the dismissal of employee representatives, strikes or reorganisations.

    If both sides agree to mediation, we also guide our clients through that process.

  • Employment law is a highly regulated area and compliance is closely monitored by the authorities. In an audit (e.g. social security, tax, the manpower inspectorate, welfare at work checks), we help you prepare for the visit and the hearings. We analyse the situation and identify the potential issues to be discussed.

    At the hearings, we remain at your side and provide you with advice on how best to proceed. We negotiate with the authorities and, if matters escalate, represent you before the labour prosecutor or in the civil and criminal courts.

  • We realise how important it is for you that we should be immediately available to assist with questions on the day-to-day management of your staff. In most cases, we’ll give you an answer on the spot, and confirm it in an email.

    For more complex questions, we provide you with advice within your agreed deadline and in a form that suits you best: simple written advice or a more detailed memorandum.

Start-­ups

Sotra assists start-ups from their very first foray into the dense, complex world of employment law. We have developed a range of tailor-made legal services to ensure a solid start from the word ‘go’. Our service offerings take careful account of the specific needs of new businesses and include in particular:

  • All start-ups, whatever their size, have to deal with a whole range of paperwork, from employment contracts through work regulations to special procedures. We provide a complete set of 'top of the art' templates, which we review together with you and customise to your needs.

    We also provide check-lists enabling you to ensure full compliance with current employment rules.

    These services are invoiced on an all-in basis dovetailed to the situation of new incorporations.

  • Getting your payroll in place is only the beginning if your goal is to provide a 'state of the art' range of benefits to your employees and executives.

    Besides basic salary, you may choose to implement a whole range of alternative forms of reward, which are attractive for employer and employee alike in terms of income tax and social security. We make sure you comply with all regulations, irrespective of your organisation’s size.

    We show you the whole range of alternative reward techniques and help you implement them in a way that is secure and attractive.

  • When you’re faced with questions in the area of employment law, we have a hotline you can call. In most cases, we’ll give you the answer you’re looking for there and then, followed up by an email confirmation.

    With this service, you know immediately what procedure to follow, and avoid the pitfalls that a lack of knowledge can bring.

    You can sign up to one of a number of legal hotline formulas for start-ups, allowing you to decide yourself what budget commitments you assign to legal support and assistance.

  • All our lawyers are experienced facilitators, teaching at universities or regularly speaking at external or inter-company seminars.

    We have developed a whole range of internal training courses for clients covering a range of specialist topics including recruitment, salary packages, employment rights or severance rules. These courses are practice-oriented and profusely illustrated with examples and case studies. Your HR managers and line management alike will easily get to grips with the concepts they need to understand in their day-to-day jobs, even if they aren’t social law experts.

    Each programme is tailored to the needs and experience levels of your staff. Contact us for further details of what we can do for you.

Individuals

At Sotra, we mainly assist employers, but we also advise individuals provided there is no conflict of interests.

Whether you are a manager or a top executive, an employee or self-employed, we support you in every phase of your career, including:

  • on recruitment, checking the conditions of work that you’re offered
  • preparing the relevant service or management agreements
  • assisting you in setting up your personal service / management company
  • defending your interests in disputes with your employer or clients
  • negotiating the terms and conditions of your departure
  • representing you before the courts in the event of litigation