Belgium

Hiring guide in Belgium

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What should I know about hiring in Belgium?

When hiring remote employees in Belgium, it is essential to know that the Belgian labour market is highly regulated. This means that employers must follow specific rules and regulations and adhere to labour laws. 

Starting from agreements, it’s crucial to remember that all of them must be in written form, including both the job offer and the employment contract. The offer letter must outline all relevant details, including job description, duties, salary, and start date.

Additionally, it’s crucial to understand the unique features of the Belgian labour market because of their significant differences from those of other countries. Another consideration when hiring in Belgium is the country’s high social security tax.

Why is Belgium a good choice for finding remote employees?

Belgium is an excellent place to look for remote workers for several reasons. To begin with, Belgium is a relatively small country, and as a result, there is a smaller pool of potential employees to choose from, making it easier to find the right fit for your company. 

In addition, Belgium is home to many international corporations, so there is no shortage of professional growth and development opportunities. As a bonus, Belgians enjoy a high quality of life, making the country a desirable location for remote workers. 

And lastly, Belgium is centrally located in Europe, making it easy for remote employees to travel to and from other countries.

How can Native Teams help you hire in Belgium?

If you aren’t familiar with the Belgian job market, knowing where to start can be difficult. With Native Teams’ Employer of Record solutions, you can get guidance and support from the initial step of hiring to paying wages and benefits. With our team by your side, you can ensure that your business always works in compliance with all the Belgian laws and regulations.


 Hire your first Belgian employee with Native Teams.


Legal requirements for hiring in Belgium

Employers must follow a few essential laws and regulations to ensure a fully compliant employment process in the Country.

Legal framework

Belgium’s strong employment framework is designed to safeguard the rights of both employers and employees and promote a fair and productive work environment. The comprehensive social security system in the country is funded by contributions from both employers and employees to cover healthcare and pension, with rates varying by income.

Belgian labour laws are designed to protect against unfair dismissal and require valid reasons for termination of employment. Additionally, Belgium has trade unions and collective bargaining agreements for negotiating working conditions and wages, which reflect the country’s strong tradition of labour representation.

Types of employment contracts

There are a couple of types of employment contracts used in Belgium.

Starting from permanent contracts (CDI), they feature no fixed end date and are used to regulate long-term employment arrangements. On the other hand, fixed-term contracts (CDD) are also commonly used but are more suitable for temporary and project-based work. 

Temporary agency work involves employees contracted through agencies, while on-call contracts are used for on-call work and are common in industries with fluctuating demand.

Belgium also offers internship contracts for students and recent graduates to gain practical experience under expert supervision. Finally, freelance or self-employed contracts are utilised by independent employees, granting them flexibility but with different rights and responsibilities.

Content of an employment contract

Employment contracts in Belgium serve to regulate the employment relationship between the two parties and outline the most important terms of the arrangement. In order to be legally valid, an employment contract in Belgium must contain elements such as identification of parties, job title and description, duration and type of contract, salary and benefits, work schedule, termination, probationary period, and other conditions.


Download a free employment contract in Belgium through Native Teams.


Oral, written or electronic employment contracts

Belgian labour laws recognise oral, written, and electronic employment contracts, crucial for both employers and employees to ensure clear, understood, and agreed-upon terms and conditions. 

Starting from oral employment contracts they’re made verbally between the parties of employment. Even though legally binding, they can be more difficult to enforce or prove in case of disputes due to the lack of written documentation.

Written employment contracts, on the other hand, provide more clarity and transparency and reduce the risk of misunderstandings or disputes. As both parties are required to sign the written contract, they serve as legal evidence of the agreed-upon terms and provide greater protection for both parties. Electronic employment contracts are created, signed, and stored digitally via electronic signature technology and online platforms. As such, they must meet the same legal requirements and standards as written contracts to be valid and enforceable.

Probationary period

In 2014, the Unified Employment Status Act abolished the standard probationary period (proeftijd or période d’essai) in Belgian employment contracts. This legislative change has brought a significant shift in employment regulations, which ended the common practice of including probationary periods as a standard part of employment agreements.

Working hours

The Belgian labour law mandates a standard working week of 38 hours weekly and 8 hours daily for full-time employees. For part-time workers, the number of working hours depends on the employer’s policies and the nature of the job.

Breaks and night work

In Belgium, employees who work more than six hours are entitled to a break of 15 minutes if not defined by collective agreement. Employees must also have at least 11 consecutive hours of rest between two work sessions within a 24-hour period. Sunday work in Belgium is also generally prohibited, with some exceptions.

Night work in Belgium is defined as work between 8:00 PM and 6:00 AM and is regulated to protect employees’ health, safety, and well-being, including mandatory health assessments and fair compensation.

Annual leave

According to the Belgian labour law, full-time employees are entitled to four weeks of paid annual leave, with holiday pay calculated based on the employee classification. 

When it comes to statutory holiday pay, it’s calculated based on the days worked in the previous year, with a minimum of 20 paid days for those working five days a week for a full year. However, collective bargaining agreements may also offer additional paid leave in certain cases.

Public holidays

In Belgium, some public holidays are observed nationwide, while some of them are specific to particular communities and regions. Belgium recognises 10 public nationwide holidays, among which are 1 January, Easter Monday, 1 May, Christmas, and others. 

Salary

Belgian labour laws ensure fair salaries and wages through a statutory minimum wage, which protects employees from exploitation and guarantees a fair income. Many industries also follow collective bargaining agreements, which are negotiated between employers and trade unions to set minimum wage levels and define benefits, working conditions, and other employment terms.


To calculate the salary and taxes in Belgium, click here.


Sick leave

Labour laws in Belgium are also designed to ensure that employees receive the necessary support and protection to focus on their recovery without the added stress of work responsibilities. 

During sick leave, employees are entitled to receive sick pay, which is a portion of their regular salary or wage. However, in some cases, employees are required to provide medical certificates which are issued by healthcare professionals to validate their illness or injury and justify their absence from work.

Parental and maternity leave

Belgium is among the countries that demonstrate a huge dedication to family-friendly workplaces and work-life balance. The country’s parental leave policies emphasise the importance of parental involvement in the early stages of a child’s life and support employees in prioritising their family commitments. Hence, parental leave, which is separate from maternity and paternity leave, is flexible and allows employees to tailor its duration according to their individual needs, whether it’s full-time leave, reduced working hours, or intermittent leave days.

However, there are eligibility criteria for parental leave, where only employees who have completed at least 12 months of service with their employer are eligible. Employees must also provide advance notice to announce their intention to take parental leave.

When it comes to maternity leave, female employees are typically eligible for 10 weeks. The maternity leave can start six weeks before the expected date of childbirth and continue nine weeks after childbirth. During this period, mothers receive compensation which is calculated as a percentage of their regular salary.

Paid paternity leave in Belgium lasts for a total of 15 days and can be taken within the four months following the child’s birth.

Termination of the employment relationship

According to Belgian labour law, employment contracts can end through termination by notice, where either party provides it based on the service length and contract terms, or a resignation, where the employee gives advance notice as required. 

Employment contracts in Belgium can also end by the expiry of a fixed term, completion of specific work, mutual agreement, death of one of the parties, or force majeure with permanent consequences.

Ordinary dismissal by employer

Employers in Belgium can handle termination with integrity by following legal procedures and treating employees fairly and respectfully. Ordinary dismissal can be due to economic reasons, organisational changes, performance issues, or other valid reasons. Employers must ensure that any employee dismissal is based on valid and justifiable reasons and compliant with anti-discrimination laws and regulations.

Legal requirements for ordinary dismissal include providing a written notice, conducting termination meetings, and adhering to the relevant collective bargaining agreements and employment contracts.

Notice period and challenging the dismissal

The notice period for terminating employment in Belgium varies based on the employee’s seniority and has been equalised for blue-collar and white-collar workers since January 1, 2014. Notice periods range from 1 week for those with less than 3 months of service to 30 weeks for those with 9 to 10 years of service. Employees who believe they were unfairly dismissed can legally challenge their termination.

Rights and obligations of unemployed individuals

Belgium’s unemployment system is managed by the National Employment Office (ONEM/RVA), which provides support to unemployed individuals. The support comes in the form of benefits that start at a higher amount and gradually decrease over time based on the duration of unemployment and the individual’s work history. 

Individuals who qualify for unemployment benefits have access to training and employment services, job search assistance, and other aid mechanisms to take proactive steps towards employment opportunities.

Severance pay

Severance pay in Belgium is compensation given to employees when their employment ends to give recognition for their service and absorb the financial impact of job loss due to redundancy, restructuring, or employer termination. It typically includes the employee’s salary and other financial entitlements, with the total sum calculated based on the employee’s length of service and salary.

Prohibition of competition

The prohibition of competition in Belgium aims to protect the proprietary interests of employers by restricting employees from engaging in activities that may harm the employer’s business. These activities may include soliciting clients, disclosing trade secrets, and even establishing competing businesses within a certain geographical area and for a specific period after terminating the employment. 

The legal framework that governs non-compete clauses in Belgium is majorly derived from both statutory law and case law. Unfair competition is typically forbidden by law, but it shouldn’t discourage employees from pursuing new job opportunities with competitors of their former employer.

Remote working policy

Remote work has become increasingly common in Belgium, requiring clear responsibilities from both employers and employees. This is why employers must provide all the necessary equipment, ensure a safe working environment for their employees, establish clear guidelines, and offer support and training throughout their work operations. Employers must also ensure compliance with the applicable data protection regulations and implement measures to keep sensitive information safe and protect against data breaches. 

On the other hand, employees are responsible for adhering to their work schedules, maintaining productivity and effective communication, and handling confidential information responsibly.

Health and safety at home

When it comes to remote work health and safety in Belgium, the applicable regulations are similar to those for on-site work. 

For remote workers, there is a mandatory 11-hour break between work sessions, which must be combined with either a 24-hour Sunday rest period or compensatory rest for Sunday work, totalling 35 consecutive hours of weekly interruption. Exceptions for this rule are applicable for force majeure situations, divided work periods, shift changes, or as specified by collective agreements. Also, certain sectors have exemptions from the Sunday work prohibition for essential activities such as monitoring, cleaning, repair, and maintenance.

What are the advantages of hiring employees from Belgium vs other countries?

Hiring employees from Belgium can be more beneficial than hiring from other countries. 

Firstly, Belgium boasts a highly skilled and educated workforce with a strong dedication to education and training in a variety of fields. This makes the country an excellent source of professionals in sectors such as technology, engineering, healthcare, and finance.

Additionally, Belgium’s central location in Europe and its well-developed infrastructure make it a strategic hub for businesses operating in the region and allow easy access to international markets. Belgian employees often have experience working in diverse and multicultural environments, thanks to the country’s cosmopolitan cities and international business climate. 

The cultural adaptability of the country, together with proficiency in languages such as English, Dutch, and French, ensure the smooth integration of Belgian employees into global teams. 

Finally, Belgium offers competitive wage rates and a stable economic environment while providing companies with high-quality talent and favourable business conditions.

Why use Native Teams for hiring in Belgium?

Native Teams lets you employ team members ‘like a local’ meaning you get all the benefits of a global team, wherever you are based. Here are the reasons why you should use Native Teams for hiring:

  • No paperwork: We will handle all the necessary paperwork for you.
  • Save on taxes: We help you handle your taxes.
  • No company set up: You can expand your business using our company entitles.
  • Online onboarding: We’re here to ensure your onboarding process is trouble-free.
  • No accounting: We will handle all of your accounting needs, including invoicing, payroll, and more.
  • Increase your profit: We assist you in growing your business and maximizing your profits.
  • Compliance expertise: we can assist your company in navigating the regulatory environments and ensure you meet all relevant requirements.
  • Local support: We can assist you in understanding and complying with the relevant local laws.
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*Note: The provided information was accurate at the time of writing.

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