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Employment Laws in Belgium

Updated on:
16 Jan, 2024
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Belgium is located at the heart of Europe and serves as a gateway to the European market. In 2023, the GDP of this country was estimated at $627 billion, with an economic growth of 1.5%

Belgium boasts a stable and diverse ecosystem characterized by industries such as manufacturing, transportation, and finance. In addition, the open economy, skilled and multilingual workforce, and established infrastructure make it an ideal destination for global business expansion.   

While there is a great scope for remote employment in this region, you must also be aware of strict employment laws in Belgium. This comprehensive guide will explore the crucial aspects of the Belgium labor law to help you with the same.

Contractual Agreements

The contract employment law in Belgium mandates the following four elements to be present in an employment contract to be valid.

  • A contract
  • Work entrusted to the employee
  • Remuneration of the employee
  • The authority of the employer

The labor laws of Belgium also emphasize the consent of the two parties. It states that the employer or employee cannot amend an employment contract unilaterally. 

Types of employment contracts

In Belgium, employment contracts can be categorized into several types based on factors such as the nature of the work, duration of employment, and working time. Some of the most common forms of employment contracts based on duration include:

Fixed-term contracts

  • A fixed-term contract specifies a start date and an end date of the employment relationship.

Open-ended contracts

  • Also known as permanent contracts, open-ended contracts have no fixed date and continue until terminated by either party according to legal procedures.

Specific-assignment contract

  • This type of contract does not specify the duration of employment but outlines the specific work to be performed.
  • It is commonly used for short-term or specific assignments, such as working on film production, seasonal agricultural work, or completing a project.

Replacement contract

  • It is an employment agreement established to substitute for an employee temporarily suspended due to economic reasons, adverse weather conditions, strike, or lock-out.

Obligations and rights for both parties

In Belgium, every employer, whether foreign or domestic, must adhere to the regulations outlined in the Act of 4 August 1996, cornering the well-being of workers during the execution of their duties. These include obligations such as:

  • Providing collective and individual protective equipment, 
  • Maintaining work hygiene standards and
  • Maintaining appropriate signage, among others.

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Working Hours and Overtime

Working hours and overtime are regulated by the Labor Act of March 16, 1971, and the Public Holidays Act of January 4, 1974.

Regular working hours

  • According to the labor law in Belgium, the maximum work duration per day is eight hours. 
  • Work should be performed between 6 am and 8 pm due to the ban on night work.
  • The general rule for the weekly work schedule in Belgium is either 38 hours a week or 38 hours on average over a specified reference period.

Overtime regulations and compensation

  • For overtime, compensatory rest periods must be provided to ensure compliance with the standard weekly working time requirements.
  • Employees are entitled to additional payment for all work done beyond the 9 hours a day and 40 hours a week. 
  • Overtime hours worked during the week (including Saturday) are compensated at a rate of 50%.
  • Overtime hours worked on Sundays or public holidays are compensated at a higher rate of 100%.

Minimum Wage and Compensation

The Act of 12 April 1965 states that remuneration must be paid in the currency designated by the Belgium labor law for individuals working in this region. 

Generally, remuneration cannot be paid in cash but must be transferred electronically into a bank account or provided via other non-cash methods such as checks. 

The minimum wage rate in 2024

  • Minimum wages are determined by sectoral collective agreements.
  • If a company operates within a sector where the joint committee has not set any minimum wage levels, the applicable minimum income is determined by the average minimum monthly income established at the inter-professional level.
  • As of August 1, 2022, this minimum monthly income was € 1,879.13 for workers aged 18 and above.

Factors affecting wage determination

Some of the key factors that influence the wage determination process in Belgium are:

  • Collective bargaining,
  • Qualifications
  • Productivity and profitability of the sector or industry

Employee Benefits and Social Security

Belgium has a comprehensive social security system that covers various risks, including sickness, disability, unemployment, and more. Some key components are mentioned below:

Statutory benefits

Child benefits

  • Almost every child in Belgium is entitled to receive child benefits, which are paid monthly. 
  • Female employees are entitled to receive a one-time maternity allowance following the birth of a child.
  • Families who adopt a child can also receive a one-time adoption allowance.

Sickness benefits

  • Individuals unavailable to work due to illness or accident are eligible for an income replacement benefit. 
  • White-collar workers typically receive 100% of their salary during the first month of incapacity for work.
  • Blue-collar workers receive varying percentages of their salary during their initial period.
For the first seven days of incapacity for work 100% of salary
From 8th to 14th day of incapacity for work 85.88% of salary
From 15th to 30th day 25.88% of salary
  • After the completion of the initial period, responsibility for making payments typically transitions to the health insurance fund.

Long-term care

  • It is a form of financial aid designed for disabled or elderly individuals who require specific support or long-term care.

Disability benefits

  • Individuals who cannot work for more than one year due to illness or disability are eligible for this benefit, starting from the second year of their inability to work.
  • Disability allowance is typically paid until the end of the month in which the recipient reaches retirement age.

Unemployment benefits

  • Employees who have contributed to social security in another European Union country may be eligible for unemployment benefits in Belgium.
  • These benefits are available indefinitely, but the amount gradually decreases based on the length of unemployment and the employee’s work history.

Occupational risk benefits

  • Private and public sector employees incapacitated due to a workplace accident are entitled to compensation.

Integration income

  • Employees whose income does not provide an adequate standard of living may be eligible for social integration in Belgium under the Integration Income Act. 
  • This support is administered at the local level by the Public Social Welfare Centre.

Additional perks and benefits

Guaranteed income for elderly persons

  • Individuals over the age of 65 and without any sufficient financial means are eligible for this benefit.

Income replacement allowance

  • Disabled persons (between 21-65 years old) with reduced earning capacity are entitled to this benefit. 

Social security contributions and requirements 

  • Employers (27%) and employees (13.07%) must contribute to the social security system in Belgium.
  • A special social security contribution is also levied in Belgium.
  • The amount of contributions varies between EUR 9.30 and EUR 60.94 per month.
  • It is collected through monthly deductions from net salary.
  • The maximum annual contribution for a family is EUR 731.28.

Vacations and Paid Time-Off

Employees in Belgium are entitled to paid vacation time and unpaid leave

Annual leave entitlement 

  • According to the labor law in Belgium, employees who have completed one year of service are entitled to 24 days of paid annual leave.
  • The maximum paid holidays an employee can take in a year is four weeks.

Public holidays and special leaves

There are ten statutory public holidays during which workers are not permitted to be employed, irrespective of their job rule or work duration. 

  • January 1
  • Easter Monday
  • May 1
  • Ascension
  • Whit Monday
  • July 21
  • Assumption
  • All Saint’s Day
  • Armistice Day
  • Christmas

Sick Leave

  • According to the Belgium labor law, white-collar employees can avail 30 days of sick leave, at 100% of their salary. 

Maternity leave

  • Female employees in Belgium can avail of 15 weeks of maternity leave and 17 weeks in case of multiple births.
  • The former is divided into two periods: prenatal leave (six weeks) and postnatal leave (nine weeks).

Paternity leave

  • Under the employment laws in Belgium, male employees are granted ten days of leave following the birth of a child.

Parental leave

  • The labor laws of Belgium mandate four months of parental leave for every employee (both public and private sector).
  • Employees also have the flexibility to take the full four-month period consecutively or divide it into separate months.

Palliative care leave

  • Employees in Belgium are granted one month of palliative care leave per patient. 
  • Employees also have the opportunity to extend this period twice, each time by an additional month.

Leave to support or care for a family member

  • Under labor law in Belgium, every employee has the right to either fully suspend the performance of their employment contract or reduce their working hours to care for a family member facing a severe illness.
  • Employees can cease their work commitments for a maximum period of 12 months per patient.
  • Each of these breaks must be taken for at least one month and a maximum of three months at a time.

Termination and Severance 

The labor laws of Belgium cover various aspects of the termination and severance procedures to balance the interests of both parties. Employers are advised to familiarize themselves with the relevant legislation while navigating termination processes.

Grounds for termination 

Termination of employment in Belgium can occur on the following grounds:

  • Gross misconduct
  • Act equivalent to a breach of contract
  • Mutual consent
  • Definitive force majeure
  • Death of the worker

Notice period and severance pay

  • According to the labor laws of Belgium, the notice of termination must be provided in writing, specifying the start and duration of the notice period.
  • The notice period commences on the Monday following the week the notice was given.
  • The length of the notice period may vary depending on the employee’s length of service and the party initiating the termination (employee/employer).
Duration of employment Duration of notice period
Nine months 1.62 months (approximately seven weeks)
Four years 3.46 months (approximately 15 weeks)
20 years or more 14.31 months (approximately 62 weeks)
  • If termination occurs without a notice period, the severance pay is determined by the duration of the notice period that should have been adhered to.

Discrimination and Equal Opportunity

Employers must ensure compliance with the labor laws of Belgium that prohibit direct and indirect discrimination based on sex, age, and disability, among others. This prohibition is enshrined in two main legislative acts:

  • Act of May 10, 2007
  • Act of July 30, 1981

Prohibitions against workplace discrimination

  • The Act of May 10, 2007, prohibits discrimination based on gender in the workplace.

Health and Safety Regulations 

  • The primary legislation that addresses health and safety at work in Belgium is the Act of August 4, 1996.

Stay Compliant with Skuad

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With Skuad, managing your international hiring, payroll, and HR operations becomes a breeze. Our unified solution offers seamless integration across 160+ countries, ensuring effortless expansion into new markets while maintaining full compliance with local regulations.

From automated payroll management to compliance monitoring, we offer unmatched digital solutions to help you grow your business.

Join us today and navigate the complexities of international expansion with compliance and success.

FAQs

Q1: What is the new rule for employees in Belgium?

A1: Following the labor agreement 2022, an individual training right has been introduced in Belgium. It states that every full-time employee is entitled to a minimum of five training days per year. 

Q2: What is the labor law for termination in Belgium?

A2: According to the labor law in Belgium, the employer and the employee have equal rights to terminate an employment contract at any time. However, specific terms must be adhered to when one party unilaterally terminates the contract.

Q3: Can I work more than 40 hours in Belgium?

A3: The Belgium labor law clearly states that the working time for individuals cannot exceed 40 hours per week. 

Q4: What are the resignation laws in Belgium?

A4: When an employee decides to resign, they must provide their employer with a written notice. The length of the notice period may vary depending on the length of the employee’s service.

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EOR in 
Belgium
Monthly
best value
Annually
Pay monthly at a discounted rate with a 12-month commitment
$
549
/month
(billed annually)
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Employ contractors and employees in 160+ countries

G2 badge
limited-offer-banner
EOR in 
Belgium
Monthly
$
599
/month
(billed annually)
Annually
Pay monthly at a discounted rate with a 12-month commitment
$
549
/month
(billed monthly)
G2 badge

Employ contractors and employees in 160+ countries

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Table of Content

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