HR Solutions & Employee Relations in Belgium with IRIS
IRIS HR consulting has experience helping businesses expand in Belgium. Without expert guidance, it can otherwise be risky and costly to leave local laws and legislation open to interpretation. For a scalable, compliant operation, IRIS can manage your HR in Belgium to help businesses hire, recruit, and pay staff overseas in new, unfamiliar countries. As a popular destination for businesses, IRIS can navigate local barriers – from culture to compliance – to arrive at a rewarding opportunity for your business to thrive in this exciting marketplace.
Take your business to Belgium with IRIS HR Consultancy.
Global expansion in Belgium
Belgium is often considered the central hub of Europe with many EU institutes and multinational company headquarters based here. Renowned for its ability in industry and logistics with its international rail, air and shipping infrastructure, it is considered one of the best locations for the industry and logistics sector. Belgium is known for its many benefits: strategic trading partners, conducive and thriving climate for new business, affluent marketplace and skilled and diverse talent pools.
A Guide to Employing Staff in Belgium
Everything you need to know about the employment laws and compliance requirements in this country
A Key Location
Located favourably on the global map, Belgium is a great entry market for businesses seeking to reach Europe and beyond. With the terrestrial European markets surrounding Belgium borders, and with keen partnerships already established, businesses can look to enjoy what Belgium has to offer.
Establishing your business in Belgium
Embarking on a global expansion is a strategic move to gain extra value from exciting foreign markets, which are constantly evolving and full of opportunity. But the international stage isn’t always easy to navigate.
Employment laws in Belgium
When first expanding your business into Belgium, navigating local laws, legislation and rules of employment laws is no mean feat, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the country’s driving policies. Throughout Europe, these laws are almost never universal. Rather, employment is dynamic and reflects the country social, economic, cultural opportunities.
Did you know?
Don’t be fooled by its small size, Belgium has been referred to as the “heart of Europe”.
Hiring & recruitment in Belgium
When getting your first hire overseas, you will need to negotiate terms of employment. But that requires local knowledge, strict compliance, and an understanding of what to include in an offer.
For foreign hires, such as EEA (European Economic Area) or Swiss Nationals do not need a work permit, however they must register a local address within 10 days of arrival. If their stay is longer than 90 days, they will need to apply for a residence card.
Other foreign nationals must obtain work permits which are only issued for certain, high-skilled categories. To employ someone without the right to work in Belgium is a criminal offence which could lead to a custodial sentence and a fine.
Employment rights & contracts in Belgium
All employment documents including employment contracts, commission plans, stock options and job descriptions are required to be written in French, Dutch or German to be considered valid (except in the Brussels and German regions).
In order for certain contracts and clauses to be valid, employment contracts must be in writing. This applies to part-time contracts, temporary contracts, remote worker and student contracts, and certain clauses such as those relating to restrictive covenants.
In Belgium there is no legal requirement for key terms and conditions of employment to be confirmed in writing. However, absence of written terms leads to the legal presumption a contract is for full-time employment for an indefinite term and, as a result, employers often provide a written contract.
What are the working hours in Belgium?
The law on working time in Belgium is extremely complicated. As a general rule there is a working time limit of 8 hours per day and 38 hours per week. There are exceptions to the rule and collective agreement often provide more favourable terms.
Working time limits do not apply to those in managerial positions or positions of trust.
Overtime in Belgium
Overtime can only be worked in certain circumstances as stipulated by the Belgium law. Employees working overtime are entitled to a premium of 50% of their basic wage. This is increased to 100% if required to work on Sundays or public holidays.
Employees in a managerial position or a position of trust are not entitled to an overtime premium but should still be paid at their normal hourly rate.
Public Holidays in Belgium
In Belgium, there are 10 paid public holidays per year:
- New Year’s Day – 1 January
- Easter Monday
- May Day – 1 May
- Ascension Day
- Whit Monday
- National Day – 21 July
- Assumption Day – 15 August
- All Saints’ Day – 1 November
- Armistice Day – 11 November
- Christmas Day – 25 December
Vacation or Annual Leave
The statutory entitlement for employees is 20 calendar days for an employee working a 5 day week. This is accrued in the calendar year preceding the vacation year.
White collar workers are entitled to receive a vacation bonus which equates to 92% of their monthly salary this is dubbed as “double vacation pay”.
Sick Leave in Belgium
For white-collar employees with an indefinite contract and more than one month’s service or fixed term contract with three month’s service, they are entitled to receive their normal pay from their employer for 30 days when they are ill. If their time in service do not meet this eligibility criteria, they will receive seven days normal pay followed by a variable fix percentage for the next 23 days.
After the 30 day period, employees receive statutory sick pay funded by the social security system.
Maternity Leave in Belgium
Female employees are entitled to 15 weeks maternity leave. This has to be taken a minimum of 7 days to a maximum of 6 weeks before the expected due date and a minimum of 9 weeks after childbirth. This leave may be extended for certain situations including multiple births.
Statutory maternity pay is provided by the social security system at 82% of gross salary for the first 30 days maternity leave and then at 75% of gross salary for the remaining period.
Adoption Leave in Belgium
When adopting a child, an employee is entitled to 6 weeks of adoption leave, one week of this is compulsory. The earliest an employee can start this leave is the date the child is registered at the commune; it can be taken up to 2 months after the child is registered. For international adoption, leave can start the day after the official confirmation of the adoption is received.
Employees receiving adoption leave are entitled to normal pay from their employer for the first three days of their leave. For the remaining time, the employee is paid by the social security at 82% of their salary subject to a cap.
Parental Leave in Belgium
Those eligible for parental leave can take up to 4 month off this can be taken until the child reaches the age of 12. Parental leave can be taken on a full-time or a part time basis which will be paid by social security.
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End of Service
HR in Belgium requires compliance not only during an employee’s service, but also at the end of it. End of service might include severance, termination, redundancy, and leaving packages. Or, for globally mobile companies with teams in foreign markets, this could be repatriation services for those returning from an assignment overseas.
For these more complicated matters, you will need expert HR guidance to navigate Belgium employment laws and remain compliant.
Termination (including Severance) in Belgium
Employers are required to ensure the reasons for dismissal are not arbitrary or an abuse of contractual right to terminate and its actions were fair and justified. Employees have the right to request details of the specific grounds of their dismissal by following a prescribed process.
From 1st January 2014, employees with 4 to 5 years of service the required notice period is changing to 15 weeks. For each subsequent year of service, three weeks per year will be added onto the notice period up to 20 years of service. This, then, is reduced to two weeks per year for 20 and 21 years of service followed by one week added per year beyond 21 years of service.
Similar to employment documents requirements, notice must be given in writing in either French Dutch or German, and must be served by registered letter or in person by a process server.
Belgium has a comprehensive health and welfare system, funded by contributions from both employees and employers via payroll and from the government. There are no salary ceilings applicable for employee contributions. Contributions are made towards medical care, invalidity, unemployment, pensions, family benefits, accidents at work and occupational diseases.
Common Supplemental Benefits
It has been widely recognised that the employer has a duty to educate their employees when implementing an occupational pension scheme. Employees are now entered into their workplace pension scheme on the first day of employment if one is provided. Contributions are made by both the employee and the employer with the employer contributions usually being a multiple of the employee’s contributions. Employees who do not have a suitable occupational pension are now allowed to contribute to a private pension through their salary.
Private Medical Insurance
Private medical insurance schemes are common in Belgium as the statutory health insurance often does not cover the full cost of treatment. When offering to provide a group medical insurance scheme, any premiums paid are subject to a 10% social security contribution.
From an employer’s perspective it helps ensure that the work impact from a medical condition is minimised.
Why Partner With IRIS?
When entering new, exciting countries around Europe, like Belgium, you will need an employment specialist to navigate the parts of local laws that are mandatory and those that are not. Delivering a compliant solution, IRIS can help your business arrive into new marketplaces whilst protecting your workforce – our partners can discover power and protection through us.
Overseas expansions can seem risky to those who dare it alone. Understanding the complexity of a fully compliant solution, IRIS can help businesses reach Europe, especially when they build bridges in Belgium.
Our cost-effective, knowledgeable approach to HR in Belgium makes us an ideal partner to commence your overseas plans.