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CORe - Centre for Government and Law

Social Law Unit

CORe - Centre for Government and Law

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Frederick De Cock
Frederick De Cock has been a working student at the Faculty of Law of Hasselt University. In 2017 he obtained his master's degree in law there (specialisation in administration of justice). Since then he has been preparing a doctorate in social law in the field of the 'law of international organisations'. His particular interests include the legal position of employees working for international organisations, more specifically from a social law perspective. Frederick De Cock is particularly interested in the functioning of international administrative tribunals, mainly the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation

Doctoral research:
'The legal position of employees working for international organisations with seat agreement or cooperation agreement with Belgiumunder jurisdiction of the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation, from a social law perspective'

The aim of this research is to analyse the legal position of employees working for international organisations from a social law perspective. These international organisations were often established on the basis of a treaty that was adopted and ratified by at least three countries. The main focus is on international organisations with which our country has concluded a headquarters agreement (an agreement in which privileges and immunities are laid down) or a cooperation agreement, and which have recognised the jurisdiction of the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation. The main issue is that because of the immunity international organisations possess, it is almost impossible to address a national judge. The principle of immunity can therefore be a major obstacle to the litigant's ability to see a dispute settled. In order to meet this issue of immunity and to allow a staff member of an international organisation an access to justice, international organisations have set up their own settlement mechanisms. Therefore, an analysis of these mechanisms for settling social law disputes in international organisations constitutes a first core point of this research project. The second key point consists of determining the 'norm' with regard to a number of themes: the current 'labour law of the personnel of international organisations'. The focus here is on individual labour law. This research will also look at how the Tribunal deals with a legal vacuum, and which legal sources the Tribunal involves in its decision-making.

Supervisor: Prof. Petra Foubert, Hasselt University
Co-supervisor: Prof. Johan Peeters, Hasselt University
Starting date: 1 September 2017

Els Langhendries
Els Langhendries studied law at the University of Antwerp (1997). She started her career as a lawyer, initially at the Brussels bar and later at the Antwerp bar. She also worked for several years in the notarial practice. Currently, within the Centre for Government and Law, she is writing a doctoral thesis on the 'social law aspects of the termination of a cross-border employment relationship'. Since 2018 she has been working again as a lawyer at the Brussels bar.

Doctoral research:
'Social law aspects of the termination of a cross-border employment relationship'

In the context of the flexibilisation and globalisation of the labour market, cross-border employment is taking an increasingly prominent place. Moreover, the traditional form of cross-border work is gradually making way for more 'atypical frontier work' (secondment, transfer, split employment). The increasing diversity within cross-border traffic is also accompanied by a growing legal complexity of the applicable (transnational) regulations in this area.
Current research aims at a critical (mainly, social law) analysis of the European and national regulations concerning the termination of a cross-border employment relationship, with focus on the employment between Belgium and the Netherlands.
In the first instance, the concept (the definition) of 'cross-border employment' will be examined. Next, within the various research domains (mainly in the social and tax law field), it will be investigated to what extent the central idea of the European (coordination) legislation, in particular the protection of the weaker contracting party, does indeed achieve its goal, or whether it rather stands in the way of the safeguarding of certain fundamental rights / claims of the employees.

Supervisor: Prof. Johan Peeters, Hasselt University
Starting date: 1 October 2012

Alexander Maes
Alexander Maes obtained his master’s degree in law at the KU Leuven. During the final year of his studies he also worked as a student assistant at the Institute of Social Law at the KU Leuven. After his studies he started working as an academic assistant at Hasselt University. Since then, he has been working on a doctorate that looks into the legal position in social law of (former) employees with mental health problems at the time of the termination of their employment contract. Apart from his doctoral research, he is also a proponent of the ‘civic university’-model. He founded a student organisation that aims to give legal advice to both landlords and tenants.

Doctoral research:
'The split personality disorder of social law - How can the legal position of (former) employees during the termination of their employment contract due to a psychological vulnerability be improved?'

Social law is multifaceted in nature, it has to take account the varied interests of employees, employers and government. When dealing with an often still controversial topic like that of psychological vulnerabilities, these different faces of social law tend to come to the foreground. Where on the one hand measures are taken that give priority to the mental health of the employee bestowing extra responsibilities on the employer, there is also legislation that puts the economic needs of the employer first, leaving the employee out cold. Of course the budget interests of government are seldom overlooked. Taking into account these ‘competing’ interests can give the impression that social law is affected by a split personality disorder. With regards to the central research question concerning the possible improvements that could be implemented to the legal position of (former) employees during the termination of their employment contract due to a psychological vulnerability, three (possibly) problematic situations were selected that will be studied in this doctoral research. First, a closer look will be taken to the protection employees enjoy against dismissals based on their psychological vulnerability. Second, it will be examined whether employees can receive damages when their psychological vulnerability was caused or aggravated by the employment relationship. Third, the claims of (former) employees with psychological vulnerabilities to sickness benefits are studied.

Supervisor: Prof. Johan Peeters, Hasselt University
Co-supervisor: Prof. Petra Foubert, Hasselt University
Starting date: 16 September 2015

Farida Mamad
Farida Mamad teaches international law at the Law Faculty of the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) in Maputo, Mozambique. In parallel she is preparing a PhD on social rights and social protection at Hasselt University, under the supervision of professor Petra Foubert.

Doctoral research:
'Women’s Access to Social Security Schemes in Mozambique: Rethinking the Social Security Legal Framework to Enhance Human Development'

Since the signing of the Peace Agreements in 1992, Mozambique has experienced a period of strong, economic growth. The celebrated per capita income and Gross Domestic Product growth has not been consistent with equitable development which is evident in the continued impoverishment of women in Mozambique. Adding to that reality, UNICEF studies have concluded that Mozambique has stagnated over the past six years in terms of human development.
However, it has been argued that social security can play a fundamental role in creating more inclusive and human development. Ensuring a basic level of social security and thus a decent life for people – many of whom are struggling just to survive – is a necessity and an obligation under the Human Rights Instruments. Although some social security measures are primarily targeting female-headed households, gender is seldom used as a differentiating lens through which one can understand poor people’s exposure to risk and vulnerability. Nevertheless, social security programs are rarely neutral and are a poorly designed policy, and thus they can exacerbate inequalities.
The objectives of this research are to examine women’s access to social security schemes in Mozambique with particular focus on social protection floors and the challenges that women face in accessing social protection floors and finally establish alternative means to ensure women’s access to social protection floors in Mozambique.

Supervisor: Prof. Petra Foubert, Hasselt University
Starting date: 1 April 2015.



Livio Rubino
Livio Rubino studied law in Italy, at the University of Palermo. He is also a graduate of the prestigious Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies (Scuola Universitaria Superiore Pisa). Livio is preparing a Ph.D. at both the University of Verona and Hasselt University on reasonable accommodation for disabled students in the field of higher education.

Doctoral research:
'Reasonable accommodation, disability and anti-discrimination in the context of higher education - A comparison between the Belgian and Italian systems in an EU law perspective'

The research project deals with discrimination on the basis of disability in the context of higher education. The central research question relates to the development of a new legal framework of reasonable accommodation, to guarantee the right to education on the ground of the equality principle. On the one hand, the role of EU law is considered. On the other, two national systems, the Belgian and Italian one, are analysed from a comparative perspective. In order to have a full overview, the analysis is broadened to other contexts like the UN (through its Conventions) and the Council of Europe (through its Charter and Court). Also other fields, like philosophy of law (with concepts like social justice and social contract) are taken into account.

Co-supervisors: Prof. dr. Petra Foubert, Hasselt University & Prof. Laura Calafà, Università di Verona
Starting date: 1 October 2017

Michelle Wilms
Michelle Wilms is a PhD fellow at the law faculty of Hasselt University. She is preparing a PhD in tax law and social law. In 2016 Michelle obtained her master’s degree in law at Hasselt University. In 2017 she obtained another master’s degree in tax law at the University of Antwerp. She is interested, inter alia, in personal income tax, corporate tax and European tax law.

Doctoral research:
‘Fiscal and social status of PhD students in Flanders’
In Flanders (Belgium), young researchers can be recruited under different statuses. More particularly, a distinction has to be made between PhD fellows and teaching assistants. This status-split entails several fiscal and social differences, which surface at different moments in the PhD students’ lives and which do not always seem justifiable. The purpose of this research is primarily aimed at addressing sore points with regard to the working conditions of PhD students. To make it even more complex, statuses of PhD students can completely differ within Europe, ranging from a student status to an actual employee status. This can be relevant in case of joint PhD’s (i.e. PhD’s at two universities). In this respect the question arises whether the free movement of workers is applicable and whether the applicability has any consequences on the fiscal and social status of PhD students.

Supervisor: Prof. Elly Van de Velde, Hasselt University
Co-supervisor: Prof. Petra Foubert, Hasselt University
Starting date: 16 September 2017

Bert Croimans
Bert Croimans is Licentiaat/Master in de Rechten (KU Leuven, 2005). In 2006 behaalde hij ook een Master in het Sociaal Recht aan de VUB en het diploma van de academische lerarenopleiding rechten aan de KU Leuven. Bert Croimans is als praktijkassistent aan de Universiteit Hasselt verbonden sinds oktober 2010. Daarnaast was hij van augustus 2006 tot februari 2017 als advocaat werkzaam, eerst aan de balie te Brussel en daarna aan de balie te Hasselt. Sinds februari 2017 is Bert benoemd tot rechter in de Nederlandstalige Arbeidsrechtbank Brussel.

Katrien Leijnen
Katrien Leijnen behaalde haar bachelordiploma aan de FUNDP te Namen (2008) en studeerde af als Master in de Rechten aan de Universiteit Antwerpen (2010). Sindsdien is zij als advocate werkzaam aan de balie te Brussel. Momenteel maakt zij deel uit van het advocatenkantoor CMS DeBacker. Katrien is gespecialiseerd in het arbeids- en socialezekerheidsrecht. Zij is als praktijkassistent aan de Universiteit Hasselt verbonden sinds november 2016.

An Vangompel
An Vangompel studeerde af als licentiaat in de rechten aan de KU Leuven (2001) en werd toegelaten tot de balie van Hasselt in 2001. Zij was van diezelfde datum tot augustus 2013 verbonden aan het advocatenkantoor Monard-D'Hulst. Zij is thans vennoot in het advocatenkantoor Odigo te Hasselt. An Vangompel was tegelijkertijd gedurende enkele jaren deeltijds docent aan de Provinciale Hogeschool Limburg, waar zij het practicum sociaal recht doceerde. Zij is sinds oktober 2010 tevens actief binnen de Universiteit Hasselt als praktijkassistent arbeidsrecht en sociale zekerheid. Zij is tevens plaatsvervangend rechter in de Arbeidsrechtbank Antwerpen, afdeling Hasselt.