Belgium PEO Services

Working in Belgium

Handmade chocolates, moules frites and a wide variety of beers may be enough to turn many people onto Belgium — but from a business perspective, there are plenty more compelling reasons to be attracted to the country and to expand your growing workforce there.

Despite not being in the top 10 European countries by population and only 34th by area, this cosmopolitan country certainly packs a punch as the de facto capital of the European Union.

Having land borders with Germany, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands — as well as easy access to the UK by sea — makes Belgium one of Europe’s best placed countries for onward trade. Well-established transport links have allowed Belgium to become a recognised export hub and put the circa 500 million consumers who live within an 800 km radius in easy reach.

Belgium is also a likely place to look for top talent as it has excellent universities and centres for research and development, which make for a highly qualified workforce. Having the native languages of French and Flemish (and German in one area) and an abundance of first and second-generation migrants also makes the country a good target for anyone looking to build a multilingual team.

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Statutory provisions in Belgium

PEO Worldwide is subject to the Joint Industrial Committee 200 (JIC 200) — formerly JC 218 — regulations in Belgium. An employee who works for a company under the scope of JIC 200 in Belgium is entitled, on an annual basis, to the following salary elements:

Working in Belgium

Holiday allowance

This holiday allowance is an extra allowance in addition to the normal salary pay and equals 92% of the monthly gross salary. In the case of incomplete employment during the previous calendar year, the double vacation allowance amounts to 92% of the monthly gross salary multiplied by 1/12 multiplied by the number of months worked in the previous year.

The annual salary is always cited as a monthly gross salary in the employment contract and is arrived at by dividing it by 13,92 to arrive at the corresponding monthly salary to comply with the Regulations of the JIC 200.

Year-end premium (month 13)

This is paid in December each year and equals the gross salary of the month of December in case of a full reference year (calendar year). A minimum of six months’ service is required and certain absences during the year may reduce the entitlement.

Yearly premium

This is payable in June (2020 – €265,12 for a full reference year).

EcoCheques

Belgian employees are entitled to receive €250 worth of EcoCheques per year in case of a full reference year. An EcoCheque is a voucher given by the employer to the employee for the purchase of ecological products and services.

Salary indexation

Each year in January, salaries are indexed for employees of companies subject to Joint Industrial Committee 200 (JIC 200).

Indexation is the mechanism whereby salaries are linked to the consumer prices index. More specifically, the monthly salary is increased by a percentage equal to the inflation rate of the previous calendar year. The indexation system as foreseen by JIC 200 is applicable to all employees falling under the scope of this Joint Industrial Committee. This indexation, when determined, will be applied to the employee’s salary in January of each year. The annual indexation rates are as follows:

Holiday entitlement

Statutory minimum holiday entitlement in Belgium is 20 days. However, that entitlement depends on the length of time the employee worked during the preceding calendar year. If the employee has worked 12 months during the previous calendar year, he is entitled to 20 vacation days. If the employee has worked less than 12 months, he is entitled to a pro-rated portion of 20 days.

Number of months worked during the previous calendar year Number of vacation days to be taken during the present year in a 5-day week
1 2
2 4
3 5
4 7
5 9
6 10
7 12
8 14
9 15
10 17
11 19
12 20

Example:  If an employee has only have worked for two months in 2020, he will only be entitled to four days holiday during 2021. Additional days can be granted if required.

Public holidays

The public holidays in Belgium are as follows: New Year’s Day, Easter Monday, Labour Day, Ascension Day, Whit Monday, Belgian National Holiday, Assumption Day, All Saints Day, Armistice Day and Christmas Day.

When a public holiday falls on a Sunday or another day which is normally a non-working day (usually a Saturday), it must be replaced by a replacement day on a normal working day. In theory, in Belgium, employees cannot be required to work on public holidays. However, the employer is obliged to pay the employee a normal salary for that holiday.

The law of January 4, 1974 provides for the manner in which replacement days should be determined. In theory, the Joint industrial Committee competent for each sector may decide when replacement days shall fall. If the Joint industrial Committee has not taken its decision before the 1st of October, the company can make their own determination.

Working time and absence

The average work week consists of 38 hours with a maximum actual working time of 40 hours. In the case of a 39 or 40-hour working week, compensatory rest days have to be provided to employees in order to bring the average weekly hours down to 38 hours.

Overtime is payable for all hours worked above nine hours per day or 40 hours per week:

• Overtime on weekdays and Saturdays: +50%
• Overtime on Sundays and public holidays: +100%

All hours over 40 hours per week are to be recuperated. This recuperation may be replaced by cash payment under certain conditions.

An employee who works remotely from home is not subject to the working time provisions of the Act of 16 March 1971, and any hours worked by the employee outside regular business hours would not give rise to a right to salary, overtime pay or paid time.

Collective insurance scheme

It should be noted that PEO Worldwide provides comprehensive collective insurance benefits to all employees in Belgium as standard including:

• Health
• Hospitalisation insurance
• Group pension and life insurance.

These charges are chargeable to the “workside employer” (client) as employer costs.

Bicycle allowance

As of the 1st of July 2020, a mandatory bicycle allowance of €0,10 is due per actual cycled kilometer (maximum 40 km per day round trip). This bicycle allowance is only due for employees who use their bike on a regular basis for their commuting travel and cannot be combined with other contributions to support the commuting travel, with the exception of the employer contribution for public transport.

Employees who wish to claim the bicycle allowance will need to provide their employer with a signed declaration stating that they regularly use the bike for commuting travel.

Working in Belgium

An overview of termination in Belgium

Below is a high-level overview of terminating an employment agreement according to the Belgian legislation.

  • The legal basis regarding the termination of an employment agreement is the Act of July 3, 1978.
  • This act states in article 32 that an employment agreement comes to an end in the following cases:
    • When the agreed term comes to an end;
    • When the work for which the agreement has been concluded has ended;
    • Because of the decision of one of the parties when the agreement was concluded for an undetermined period of time, or in case of a serious cause;
    • In case of the decease of the employee;
    • In case of force majeure.

We will focus in the 3rd overview of the above-mentioned cases which can lead to the termination of the contract. In case of an employment contract concluding for an undetermined period of time, either party can decide to terminate the contract on a unilateral basis.

Article 37 of the above-mentioned act stipulates that in that case, the party which has taken the initiative to terminate the contract should give notice to the other party. The length of the notice period has been changed on the 1st of January 2014 and is solely based on the years of seniority of the employee with the company. On the 1st of January 2014, the option of including a probationary period within a contract was also abolished.

Years’ Service (Months/Years) Employer Notice Employee Notice
0 – < 3 months 1 week 1 week
3 – < 4 months 3 weeks 2 weeks
4 – < 5 months 4 weeks 2 weeks
5 – < 6 months 5 weeks 2 weeks
6 – < 9 months 6 weeks 3 weeks
9 – < 12 months 7 weeks 3 weeks
12 – < 15 months 8 weeks 4 weeks
15 – < 18 months 9 weeks 4 weeks
18 – < 21 month 10 weeks 5 weeks
21 – < 24 months 11 weeks 5 weeks
2 – <3 years 12 weeks 6 weeks
3 – < 4 years 13 weeks 6 weeks
4 – < 5 years 15 weeks 7 weeks
5 – < 6 years 18 weeks 9 weeks
6 – < 7 years 21 weeks 10 weeks
7 – < 8 years 24 weeks 12 weeks
8 – < 9 years 27 weeks 13 weeks
9 – < 10 years 30 weeks 13 weeks

If either the employee or employer wants to terminate the contract with immediate effect and without respecting the notice period as laid down by the law, they will need to pay the other party an “indemnity in lieu of notice” which equals the salary for the period which normally should have been respected as a notice period.

Article 35 of the act on employment agreements finally foresees the possibility for either party to terminate the contract for a serious reason. Such a reason is one which makes it immediately and irrevocably impossible to continue the employment relationship (e.g. theft by the employee or fraud committed by the employer). In this case, no indemnity is due to the other party and the contract comes to an end with immediate effect.

Apart from the above-mentioned situations which are foreseen by the act on employment agreements, parties can always choose (based on the Belgian Civil Code) to terminate the employment agreement in mutual consent. In that case, parties are free to choose the end date, any indemnities due etc.

Terminations with respecting a notice period or a serious cause are subject to mandatory formalities which can lead to an invalid termination. The termination in mutual consent and the one with immediate effect by paying an indemnity in lieu of notice are not subject to any legal formalities.

As regards the reasons to terminate the contract, a new option called a the “manifestly unreasonable dismissal” was introduced in the Belgian labour legislation in 2014. A “manifestly unreasonable dismissal” is a dismissal based on reasons which:

Employees have the right to ask their employer to outline the reasons around which the dismissal was based. If the dismissal is considered to be manifestly unreasonable, the employer can be sanctioned with an indemnity of a minimum of three and a maximum of 17 weeks’ salary. The amount of the indemnity is decided upon by the labour court.

Looking for a PEO in Belgium? At PEO Worldwide, we work with local experts to ensure you meet all employment rules and regulations.

Get in contact today to see how we can help your business with our employment solutions.

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Published date: 20 July 2020
Review date: 20 July 2021