Employ Candidates Compliantly in Belgium

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  1. Overview: Belgium
  2. Global HR Compliance
  3. Global PEO and payroll
  4. Work permit for hiring expats via PEO
  5. Expand without a company set up
  6. Contractor vs. employee: which is better?
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Global HR Compliance in Belgium

If you hire international workforce, or plan to hire, then Hiring and Firing Workforce in Belgium Guide below will help you understand the nuances of labor legislation in the country.

Companies hire international workforce for various reasons but in most cases they are:

  • entering the foreign markets to sell company products. To do so, the company hires sales representatives who would represent their product and sell it to their local client base.
  • hiring a global talent with unique skills that is unavailable in the local market or costs the company less than the talent with similar skills hired in the home country.

Before entering a certain foreign market or engaging a global talent, it is crucial for the company to understand how it can make local hires and reward its workers on a monthly basis. Growing companies often face a challenge of paying benefits and bonuses to the commission-based independent sales representatives they are working with.

If you intend to hire and pay your foreign workforce in full compliance with labor laws and regulations of Belgium, then the Global Employer of Record service from Acumen International may be the best way for you to go. We are an International PEO company and we specialize in global employment, meaning we can employ your employees in Belgium and act as their legal employer on your behalf. We will payroll your foreign workforce monthly and provide benefits to them through our global network so you don’t have to set up your own legal entities there.

We are experts in global workforce employment in , and our goal is to become your single provider. Instead of working with numerous local staffing agencies and legal advisors, Acumen International can solve your global business challenges and save you time, costs, and resources.

Our team of English-speaking professionals frees you from working through language nuances. Acumen International works 24/7 and can assist you whenever you need, regardless of time zones. Our goal is to create tailored labor solutions for you that are managed legally and in full compliance with the local employment laws.

With our knowledge and deep understanding of local nuances, you easily satisfy your need for skilled professionals in your global industry. With our qualified local partners, you can trust that your global workforce satisfies all local tax, social security, and immigration requirements in Belgium.

Hiring and Firing Workforce in Belgium Guide

Ever wondered why several multinational companies have their businesses headquartered in Belgium, the secret lies in its strategic location which offers numerous benefits, including proximity to many other markets. It’s no news that Belgium is one of the three most globalized countries in the world and one of the 5 most attractive places for foreign investment in Europe. Belgium has a highly developed infrastructure that makes it particularly fitting for investment in logistics and of course very attractive for other numerous industries. Here is a straightforward guide that will help you know more about what it means to do business in Belgium.

#Employment contract

The length of an employment contract can vary from weeks to years. It all depends on the type of contract the employee has been signed up to. Also, depending on the contract type, an employer can decide to conclude the contract in writing or orally. Specifically, the choice of whether a contract should be in writing or not applies only to a permanent contract type. Every other contract other than the permanent contract must be concluded in writing. In any case, the employee has the right to demand for a written contract for all contract types, and in that case, the employer is obligated not to deny him the contract rather give it within the first two months of him/her starting to work. After a contract has been concluded, the terms therein cannot be amended without informing the employee in writing. This must be done within one month of the amendment. As a rule, employers should provide any written contracts in Dutch, French or German and possibly in English when necessary.

#Statutory employment rights

# Hours of work
In Belgium, working time may not exceed 40 hours a week, however on the average, people work about 38 hours a week. Moreover, a number of joint committees have reduced weekly working time to less than 38 hours. Most offices open from 8.30 am and close at 17.30. During these daily working hours, employees have the right to take an hour time off from work (usually for lunch).

# Probation period
The length of an employment trial period can vary from two weeks to six and sometimes 12 months. It all depends on the type of contract the employee has been signed up to. For a probation period to hold, the employer must make sure to have it mentioned in a written contract, otherwise, it will be considered inoperative.

# Annual leave
Only employees who have worked the minimum of one year in the company are eligible for a paid vacation. This vacation is given in addition to the 10 public holidays observed in Belgium and cannot be carried over to the next calendar year. The length of an annual paid leave is calculated in such a way that it considers the number of months an employee had worked the previous calendar year. If after calculation, it shows that an employee has worked for the entire months of a calendar year, then such an employee will be entitled to at least 20 days paid leave.

# Parental leave
Female employees during and after pregnancy have the right to up to 15 weeks paid leave if they have worked 120 days during the 6 months previous to the maternity leave and have paid a minimum amount of social security contributions. Before child delivery, the employee is entitled to take at least one week time off and at least 9 weeks after the child is born. The gross benefit during this period usually amount to 82% of the employee’s salary for the first 30 days of the maternity leave and 75% afterwards. In the same vein, male employees are entitled to 10 days’ paternity leave. This leave must be taken within the first 4 months of childbirth. Employees on paternity leave are entitled to 82% of their salary and must be paid by the social security body.

# Sick leave

All employees who meet the following conditions are entitled to a sick leave:

  • be registered with an insurance entity (mutual insurance fund) as holder;
  • demonstrate a minimum volume of work or payment of a minimum level of
  • contributions for a period of at least 6 months (12 months starting from 1 April
  • 2017 for disabilities with onset from 1 January 2017 onwards);
  • not have had a period of interruption of more than 30 days between the start of the
  • incapacity and the last working day;
  • have worked for a total of at least 180 days;
  • have stopped all work activity;

The length of the sick leave depends on the severity of illness. Employees are always required to provide a doctor’s note to take advantage of the sick leave benefits.

During an initial period the benefits are paid by the employer:

white-collar workers receive

  • 100% of their earnings for a month;

manual workers receive

  • 100% of their earnings for the first seven days of incapacity;
  • 88% from the 8th to the 14th day of incapacity, or via a supplementary allowance;
  • From the 15th to 30th day: 25.88% of compensation not exceeding the ceiling set by the
  • disability health insurance and 85.88% of the amount exceeding the ceiling.

The sickness insurance starts when the guaranteed salary period paid by the employer is over. The compensation rate is 60% of earnings. If an employee is still unable to work after a year, he will be entitled to invalidity benefit.

# Overtime
Issues of overtime are stringently controlled in Belgium. Unlike what is considered overtime in many other countries, not every work done beyond the normative working hours is recognized as an overtime. Apart from the standard working hours approved by law, certain extra hours are legally approved for employees to work daily/weekly in particular industrial sectors or for particular categories of undertakings and sectors of undertakings where the normal limits on working time cannot be complied with, and these extra hours are not recognized as an overtime, hence will not attract overtime benefits. Employees are lawfully allowed to work up to 11 hours per week’ and 50 hours per week and so long as they do not go beyond these extra hours the employer will not be obligated to compensate for the extra hours worked.

Overtime benefits start to count from the period an employee begins to work more than the set extra hours. In this case, he/she will be entitled to a premium of up to 50% (if it’s done within the normal working days) or 100% premium (if it’s done during the legal public holidays or non-working days).

# Salary
The national gross minimum wage in Belgium is 1562.59 EUR per month. The level of an employment gross pay is usually determined by either the parties of an employment by mutual consent or by an industrial collective bargaining agreements. In any case, an employee’s basic salary must not be lower than the minimum salary set by either the industrial or national collective bargaining agreement.

# Contract termination
With an exception of a fixed-term contract which in principle should not be terminated, all other contracts can be terminated at any time by either of the contracting parties. Terminating a contract under mutual consent does not necessarily require any formalities, including providing an indemnity to the employee. To unilaterally end an employment contract, the party initiating the process must comply with certain procedures, one of which includes giving sufficient notice to the other party before the contract is terminated or paying a certain fee in lieu of the notice. Notice of termination can only be given in writing and the length of its period will depend on an employee’s contractual salary as well as his/her level of seniority in the company.

Acumen International can help you fast-track your possibilities of entering and expanding your business in Belgium by providing you with an Employer of Record solutions that allows you to jumpstart your global operations almost immediately, cost-effectively and compliantly.

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