Can an employee refuse to work in a dangerous situation?

Verified 30 January 2023 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

When a work situation presents a serious and imminent danger, the employee must alert his employer immediately.

It can also to leave or refuse to settle to his work station without the agreement of the employer. This is called the right of withdrawal.

How the employee looseDoes he use his right to opt out to the employer? Is the employee paid while exercising his right to opt out? Can the employee be sanctioned?

We're doing an update on the regulations.

Yes. The employee may refuse to take up or leave a job, if the employment situation presents a serious and imminent danger for his safety or health.

The right of withdrawal allows the employee to refuse to take up work or leave, without the prior consent of his employer.

However, the employee must have reasonable grounds to think the employment situation in which he finds himself presents a serious and imminent danger to life or health.

The employer must respect its duty to protect health and safety of the employee.

Then he has to take quickly the measures necessary to end the situation of serious and imminent danger.

As soon as the employee believes that it has a legitimate reason to believe in a possible danger, he may to exercise validly his right of withdrawal.

One serious threat to the health or safety of employees must exist and the situation must be characterized byurgency to react.

The danger may be individual or collective. The withdrawal of the employee must not, however, lead to a new situation of serious and imminent danger for other persons.

The origin of the danger can be diverse, for example:

  • Defective vehicle or work equipment not complying with safety standards
  • Absence of collective or individual protective equipment
  • Hazardous manufacturing process
  • Risk of aggression

The employee inform the employer or his manager exercise of his right of withdrawal by any means.

Even if it is not mandatory, a writing is however preferable. For example, a mail, one mail in your own hand against signature or in registered letter with acknowledgement.

The employee shall also inform the employer of any defect which it finds in the protection systems.

The employee may also inform the members of the ESC: titleContent.

The employee may exercise his right of withdrawal and discontinue business, until the employer has put in place protective measures adapted ending the dangerous situation.

Yes, the employer must to maintain pay of the employee during the period in which he exercises his right of withdrawal in a manner that legitimate.


Where the conditions of the right of withdrawal legitimate are not reunited, the employee may be exposed to a withholding from his salary.

No, the employee exercising his right of withdrawal in a manner that legitimate cannot be sanctioned or dismissed by the employer for this reason.


The dismissal ordered by the employer may be set aside by the judge if the reason for the employee's exercise of the right of withdrawal is legitimate.

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