Collective employment agreement (CEA)

The collective employment agreement (CEA) is an agreement between employers on an individual basis or their associations on the one hand, and the workers’ associations (trade unions) on the other.

There are several categories of CEA: first of all there are contracts by which both parties decide on provisions concerning the signing, content (e.g. salaries, holiday leave, co-decision and training leave) and termination of employment contracts. Collective employment agreements frequently contain agreements concerning the rights and obligations of CEA partners, the implementation of the CEA and peaceful industrial relations.

Collective employment agreements generally do not contain any provision whatsoever on learners, who are not subject to the CEA. However, nothing stops the contracting parties (employer and apprentice) from including certain provisions of the CEA in the apprenticeship contract. The same applies for collective employment agreements that require employers to apply minimum standards of the CEA to the apprenticeship contract (e.g. concerning holiday leave, remuneration or working hours).

At the request of all parties, a CEA may be deemed to be compulsory. This has the effect of extending the scope of application to all employers as well as to all workers (including apprentices) of an economic sector or occupation.