How To Hire In Belgium

Belgium is an open economy that offers a skilled and multilingual workforce. It is a prime location in Western Europe, home to several notable firms like anheuser-Busch IBev, Ageas, Kinepolis, Volvo Car Gent, and others. Its economy includes sectors like transportation, technology, and manufacturing, which make up 80% of its GDP. Having a low rate of unemployment, Belgium sees a steady demand across industries such as-

  • Social Services
  • Estate agency
  • Education
  • Engineering and IT
  • Finance

In 2021, the Belgian employment rate stood at 65.3%, an increase from the 65.3 percent mark Belgium touched in 2020. In addition, Belgium’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 0.5% in the first three months of March 2022. This invited several investors and businesses to the country to start a business in Belgium.

However, recruitment and selection in Belgium can be challenging. Companies that hire in Belgium need to comply with the country’s laws and tax regimes. Discover how to recruit employees in Belgium from this article. 

Things to Know Before Hiring in Belgium

Sometimes, as a foreign employer, the legislation peculiarities get overwhelming. This is why it’s necessary for you to know certain aspects of the hiring process to smoothly sail through the Belgian sojourn.

EU/ Non-EU Nationals

Employers planning to hire in Belgium can recruit both EU and non-EU nationals. However, the basic requirements for the recruitment process in Belgium companies are different. 

EU nationals

Hiring employees from the EU states, the EEA countries, and Switzerland is easier for companies established in Belgium.

These nationals will not need a separate permit to move freely. There is no need for a Belgian residency registration if these nationals stay on for more than three continuous months here.

Hiring and terminating an employee in Belgium requires employers to notify the local RSZ or Social Security Office.

Non-EU nationals

All non-EU citizens and those who fall outside the above categories need a work visa and a work permit for visiting/staying and working in Belgium. The work permit receipt from application to final collection takes around four to six weeks. It’s crucial to note that work permits are not a substitute for visas. We strongly recommend that you get yourself acquainted with Belgian visa requisites when hiring an international employee

There is the EU Blue Card and a few similar visa versions for work in Belgium that you might use for hiring an employee directly.

Once you hire a staff of choice, engage in the recruitment process in compliance with Belgian laws and regional norms. Understand that logistics must comply with legal requisites for hiring staff in Belgium.

Also, try to understand cultural nuances related to hiring employees in Belgium, which helps better communicate with local candidates during interviews. While you employ staff in Belgium, you can choose to partner with a global PEO firm like Multiplier. 

Consider the following factors when hiring employees in Belgium:

  • Discrimination laws: In Belgium, each worker has the right to get equal treatment regardless of nationality, skin color, ethnicity, gender, language, religion, political views, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, and descent. When hiring staff in Belgium or during recruitment and selection in Belgium, steer clear of any queries around such factors.

Employment contract

  • An employment contract in Belgium can be both verbal and written.
  • In written form, the agreement must be in French, German, or Dutch per the employer’s operations location. 
  • In the context of employment contracts for cross-border employment, the European Court of Justice stipulated that parties can draft employment contracts not exclusively in the workplace region’s official language as per the principle for freedom of movement among employees. This means that employers can add a contract in English as well. 

Contract types

  • A standard employment contract type in Belgium is open-ended.
  • Employers can also draft fixed-term contracts, but an immediate agreement must come into force as soon as employment commences.
  • There is no trial provision as per the Unified Employment Status Act, except in the case of employment of temporary workers, students, and temporary workers from agencies.

Employment laws 

There are several labor laws in Belgium in the context of employment contracts. According to such rules, the contracts must have four main elements. These include-

  • Work

  • Contract

  • Salary

  • Employer’s authority

Employers cannot modify the elements of such an employment contract unilaterally. Unilateral modification of clauses from either party’s end is akin to contract termination. In such a case, the concerned party might seek compensation without notice.

The employer can redraft the clauses of the contract only in the event of economic issues with the guarantee to not later the main elements of the stated warranty.

Permanent employment contracts do not need to have a written version. Other agreements that are not permanent must have written drafts. These include-

  • Student contracts

  • Short term contracts

  • Replacement contracts

  • Part-time contracts

  • Temporary work contracts

  • Domestic worker contracts

Probationary period

  • The probationary period can go up to two weeks for blue-collar workers.
  • White-collar workers can vary between 1-6 months if the annual wages are below EUR 36–37,000.
  • For employees having wages higher than this figure, probation is applicable for up to 12 months.

Onboarding process

  • Employers can decide on the recruitment process in Belgium and how to onboard their employees.
  • Work contracts must be mutually agreed upon before the employee commences work.
  • Employers must share with employees all copies of vital company documents during the hiring process in Belgium. 

Working hours and breaks

  • The working week on average is 38 hours. The Belgian labor law does not mention any rule about overtime work. However, most employees do work over time as per understanding with their employer.
  • The typical work day spans eight hours, from Monday to Friday. Working more than 11 hours daily and 48 hours weekly is illegal.
  • Overtime work for weekdays is paid at around 50% more than the usual rate. On Sundays or holidays, any overtime attracts a double payout, and pregnant employees cannot work overtime.
  • You need to work for a year before receiving any holiday entitlement. Post this period, the entitlement is calculated as per the number of months you had been on the job during the last year. After working a calendar year, employees are entitled to at least 20 days of vacation.
  • Belgium also has ten legal holidays for religious days and regional holidays.

Payroll

When hiring staff in Belgium, you must pay employees every month.

Minimum wage

In 2021, the minimum wage for Belgium was fixed at 1,625.7€ monthly, which amounts to 19,508€ per year.

Sick leave and other leaves

  • An employee stands entitled to statutory sick pay for the first 30 days of absence from work in case of sickness or accident.
  • Apart from this, the employee receives sick leaves from the Health Insurance Fund.
  • The sick pay rate will depend on contract type, type of employee, and the strength of your employment with the employer.

Bonuses   

  • Besides a monthly salary, an employee in Belgium will receive, under specific conditions, a fixed holiday pay (also called 13th month bonus).
  • Holiday pay for all blue-collar workers with legal allowance for the annual holiday scheme is dependent on the Holiday Fund of the company.
  • The company must be registered with the National Social Security Office to be automatically affiliated with the relevant holiday fund.
  • The employer makes all holiday payments for all white-collar employees. The employer must make payments corresponding to the duration of employee holiday leave.
  • It also includes a double pay or holiday bonus, above and over the gross salary for every month. The bonus corresponds to almost 92% of the monthly salary.

Taxes and social security contributions

  • The social security tax share for employees is 13.07% of gross compensation. This has no cap, and the share for the employer is around 27%.
  • Social security tax is deductible when determining the total taxable income. For example, a foreign employee is on a short-term assignment in Belgium but has the benefits of social security schemes in the native country. In that case, the Belgian social security contributions can be exempt. This is based on the agreement Belgian social security has with the native country of the claimant.
  • The social security contribution amount ranges from EUR 9.30 to  EUR 60.94 monthly. The contribution is made based on a monthly deduction from the net salary.
  • Such social security contributions have no tax deductions. The highest amount a family could have due on a year-on-year basis is EUR 731.28.

The Cost of Hiring an Employee in Belgium

Before initiating the hiring process in Belgium, it is essential to calculate your operations costs to ensure smooth onboarding.

The central overheads include:

Registration

For hiring employees in Belgium, you must register your business and seek relevant local permits.

Recruitment fees

Outsourcing the recruitment process in Belgium will attract fresh charges per the agreement.

Legal aid

You need to pay for legal assistance to be updated with the Belgian laws and regulations.

HR setup

If you are keen on a recruitment process in Belgium internally, you must create a required HR setup. Partnering with an EOR service can help you save HR costs. 

Travel

Establishing a Belgian office will attract costs of settling and relocating your employees. There is so much expense involved, from work permit to work visa

Job advertisements

Advertisement helps you kickstart the recruitment process in Belgium.

Background checks

Employers in Belgium will need to conduct background checks for prospective candidates. This detailed process further adds to your hiring cost. 

What Does a Company Need to Hire Employees in Belgium?

If you want to hire staff in Belgium, you need to be a registered Belgian employer. You must ensure that your business is scalable while also understanding the local labor laws and employee expectations. All documentation for company registration, office space agreements, and employee contracts are decided first. Then, you have to familiarize yourself with the policies around leaves, bonuses, and notice periods. Organize a payroll system and communication tools as well.

1. Register the company in Belgium

Register the company with the Belgian Central Database for Enterprises. This grants you a company number that you must print on all trade documents.

2. Draw up a valid contract

Specify the working hours, the probationary period, all details on periods of notice, information on holidays, and leaves. 

3. Get industrial insurance for accident

Belgian social security doesn’t cover accidents at the workplace. Therefore, it is sensible for you to take such insurance for offering your employee insurance against accidents at the workplace or while commuting to and back from the same.

4. Apply for NSSO number

Unless you get an NSSO number, your employee doesn’t get recognition at the Social Security services level in Belgium.

5. Join the social secretariat

The Social Secretariat is responsible for all payroll administration every month. It also helps make correct calculations and declarations to the Belgian government.

6. Join the External Service for Prevention and Protection at Work

If you are an employer, join the External Service for Prevention and Protection. With this, you step towards increasing the well-being of the workplace.

7. Stating all labor regulations

Mention the labor regulations on the contract with employees. It mainly summarizes all practical translations based on the agreements mentioned in the labor contract. 

Various Options for Hiring Employees in Belgium

If you want to sail through such processes for recruitment and selection in Belgium, you need to explore a few options for hiring. 

  • Partnering with a global EOR service: You can partner with an employer of record (EOR) such as Multiplier. An EOR will deal with all logistics like compliances, benefits, compensation, payroll, and workforce management without setting up an entity.
  • Direct hiring: If you have a subsidiary established in Belgium, you may directly hire in the country with the aid of the HR department.

The Steps to Hiring in Belgium

The hiring process in Belgium is slightly different from a few other foreign countries. Here are the essential steps for conducting a recruitment process in Belgium. The recruitment hiring process in Belgium helps select the most passionate employees with the right potential.

  • Advertising the job opening: The employer puts up job posts for job openings. You can promote the job post on Vacature, Jobat, Linkedin, Stepstone, and others.
  • Receiving job applications: Prospective candidates generally send in a cover letter with CV online.
  • Shortlisting candidates: The employer recruitment team returns to prospective shortlisted candidates and arranges an introductory telephonic interview to understand more about the prospect.
  • Scheduling interviews: Once this stage is over, the chosen applicants will get called for a face-to-face interview.
  • Assessment: The next stage is primarily a psychometric assessment that allows employers to understand candidates’ motivational aspirations and behavioral aspects. 
  • Background check: The latter includes the potential candidate’s reference/ background check. It includes assessing candidates’ workplace behavior, skills, and performance at previous workplaces.

Onboarding employees might look different for each Belgian company. However, in Belgium, you must register an employee with government authorities, insurance agencies, health providers as well as with Dimona. The latter is the electronic system that is used for social security.

The other bits around onboarding and hiring are employer-specific.

Make sure you review the employment contract with employees on the first day. Belgian employers provide job training to prepare employees for the positions and also to provide more information about the company culture.

Let Multiplier be Your EOR Platform in Belgium

Recruiting employees and then onboarding them is time-consuming, and the processes involve several steps like advertising jobs, scheduling interviews, and meeting compliance standards. A global PEO-EOR firm such as Multiplier streamlines these processes so that you don’t have to keep running to and fro different entities; we offer end-to-end onboarding support in Belgium!

We offer Saas-based Employer of Record solutions related to talent employment. All this without having to establish a branch or subsidiary in Belgium. Even better, we can help you understand newer markets and handle automated payroll management for all in-house and global teams.

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Frequently Asked Questions

No, pregnant workers are exempt from overtime duties in Belgium.

Yes, Belgium allows up to 15 weeks of maternity leave or up to 19 weeks if the mom has had multiple births. The maternity benefit stands at 82% of the monthly salary for the first month and 75% of the wages for the remainder period.

Belgium has no fixed probation period, which is mutually contracted after the employer selects a probable probation span depending on the category of workers hired.

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