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Employer of Record in Belgium

Navigating the complexities of international hiring can be an overwhelming task, especially when expanding into an unfamiliar market. From compliance with local labour laws to managing payroll and taxes, there are various responsibilities you need to consider. That’s why more and more companies are using Employer of Record (EOR) services to streamline their global hiring process. 

In this guide, we will explore everything you need to know to hire workers in Belgium compliantly, including how to set up payroll, how to conduct employment background checks, how to leverage EOR services for your recruitment efforts in Belgium, and more.

Hiring in Belgium

Hiring in Belgium requires careful consideration and a thorough understanding of local employment laws and regulations. Here are some considerations you need to keep in mind when hiring talent in Belgium: 

Understanding Belgium’s labour laws and regulations

The foundation of Belgium’s labour laws is the Collective Labour Agreement (CLA), which covers a wide range of employment-related matters, including working conditions, remuneration, and collective bargaining. To ensure compliance when hiring an employee in Belgium, businesses must familiarise themselves with the relevant CLAs that govern their specific industry.

Employment contracts and terms

The law in Belgium mandates that all employees, regardless of their nationality or the duration of their employment, must have a written employment contract outlining the terms and conditions of their employment, such as the nature of the employment relationship, salary, working hours, and any additional benefits or allowances provided to the employee. 

Legal entities, social security, and taxation.

When hiring an employee in Belgium, setting up an entity in is required for compliant hiring. International businesses can opt to set up a branch office, a subsidiary, or engage an Employer of Record (EOR) service to act as the official employer of record. Some companies choose to use EOR services to bypass the time-consuming process of establishing a legal presence and to secure the talent they need quickly and compliantly. 

Work permits and visas

For non-EU/EEA nationals, obtaining the necessary work permits and visas is needed for compliant hiring in Belgium. Different categories of work permit exist, each tailored to specific types of employment. Businesses must be well-versed in the application processes, eligibility criteria, and documentation required for sponsoring foreign national employees to work in Belgium. 

Employee rights and benefit administration

Labour laws in Belgium grant employees a wide range of rights, including paid leave, maternity, and paternity leave, and regulated working hours. How to hire contractors in Belgium When you hire contractors in Belgium, you consider several important factors to ensure compliance and mitigate risks. Here are some things you need to keep in mind: 

  1. Correct worker classification. It’s crucial to correctly determine whether a worker should be classified as an employee or an independent contractor. Misclassification can result in legal and financial consequences, as well as reputational damage, for your company. When you hire contractors in Belgium, ensure that you understand the specific criteria that Belgium has set to define employee relationships to avoid misclassification. This includes control over work, subordination, and integration into the company.
  2. Tax compliance. Contractors in Belgium are responsible for their own taxes and social security contributions. However, before you hire contractors, you must verify that the contractor is registered with the relevant authorities and meets their tax obligations.
  3. Insurance coverage. Employers should verify that the contractor has appropriate liability insurance coverage. Depending on the nature of the work, additional insurance may be required to protect both parties from potential claims or accidents.
  4. Intellectual property rights. When you hire contractors in Belgium, it’s important to clarify the ownership and usage rights of any intellectual property created by the contractor. Clearly define who will retain the intellectual property rights to avoid any future disputes. 

Remember to establish a clear and comprehensive contract, including the deliverables, scope of work, and duration of the engagement, when you hire contractors in Belgium. Consider these factors to ensure compliance and minimise potential risks at every step.

Employee background check in Belgium

When it comes to hiring in Belgium, there are important checks that businesses must carry out to ensure compliance and a smooth onboarding of workers.   

Key considerations when conducting employee background checks: 

In Belgium, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Collective Labour Agreement No. 38 set the legal framework for conducting background checks. Employers are required to request only information directly relevant to the job profile, such as academic qualifications and prior work experience.

  • Consent
    It is mandatory to obtain explicit consent from the candidate before conducting a background check. This consent should be clear, written, and provided voluntarily by the candidate.
  • Scope of checks
    In Belgium, the scope of background checks varies by industry. While academic qualifications and past work experiences are standard components of background checks, criminal background checks are only required in specific sectors. 

Right to work in Belgium 

To hire workers in Belgium, it is essential to ensure immigration compliance (work permit and/or residence permit). In general, nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland have the right to work in Belgium. Meanwhile, obtaining a work and/or residence permit is likely to be required for non-Belgian nationals.   

  • Work permit in Belgium
    A work permit in Belgium is a document that allows non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals to work legally in the country. There are different types of work permits in Belgium, such as Work Permit A (for unlimited work), Work Permit B (for a specific employer and up to 1 year), and Work Permit C (for certain categories of foreign residents). Since 2019, Belgium has been issuing a Single Permit for stays longer than 90 days, combining both work and residence permits into one application to simplify the process.
  • Work permit processing time in Belgium
    The processing time for securing a work permit in Belgium can vary, but for the Work Visa, it typically ranges from 8 to 10 weeks. For the Single Permit, which is a common work permit option, the expected processing time can range similarly, but applicants should consult the specific region’s labour authority in Belgium, as processing times can fluctuate based on the workload and specific requirements of the regional bodies.
  • Work permit documents required in Belgium
    To apply for a work permit in Belgium as an employee, you must have a job offer from a Belgian employer. The employer usually takes the lead in applying for Work Permit B on behalf of the candidate. Essential requirements include a valid passport, a signed employment contract, and proof of professional qualifications. Moreover, the employer needs to prove that the position cannot be filled by a resident worker. After obtaining a Work Permit B, the individual can apply for a Belgian work visa to enter Belgium. 

Moreover, applicants for a work visa in Belgium need to provide additional documentation, including a completed and signed application form, photos, and health insurance coverage. The documents required may vary slightly depending on the specific type of work permit and the applicant’s nationality. 

Please take note that Belgium’s regions (Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels-Capital) could have slightly different requirements or procedures for work permit applications. Hence, it is advisable to check the specific requirements for the region where you plan to work. 

Permissible employee checks in Belgium 

While immigration compliance is a necessary requirement, other types of checks, such as criminal background checks, are generally allowed only under exceptional circumstances for specific roles and subject to proportionality requirements. On the other hand, in Belgium, education and reference checks are common and permissible. 

Criminal background checks in Belgium

When conducting criminal background checks on employees in Belgium, employers must adhere to strict guidelines to ensure compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Collective Labour Agreement No. 38. 

Criminal background checks should only be conducted when they are directly relevant to the job position. Furthermore, it is essential to obtain explicit, written consent from the candidate before performing such checks. The scope of the criminal background check must be proportionate to the nature of the job. This ensures that the employer does not infringe on the privacy rights of the candidate more than necessary. Criminal background checks are not standard for all industries and are typically required only in sensitive sectors where security and safety are paramount.

Types of workers in Belgium

When it comes to hiring in Belgium, it is important to understand the different options available to businesses. In general, there are three main types of workers in Belgium: employees, independent contractors, and agency workers.  

Employee in Belgium

In Belgium, employees can be hired on either an indefinite or fixed-term basis. They can also work full-time or part-time, depending on the company’s requirements. Specific categories of employees, such as structural remote workers (teleworkers or homeworkers), sales representatives, and students, have their own terms of employment outlined in the law. 

Most importantly, part-time, and fixed-term employees, as well as remote workers, sales representatives, and students in Belgium have the right to be free from discrimination based on their status. 

Agency worker in Belgium

Agency workers are a common option in Belgium, but they are subject to specific conditions. They can only be employed to handle an extraordinary increase in workload, temporarily replace an employee with a terminated or suspended, contract or fill in a temporary vacancy. 

Agency workers can only be in service with licensed interim agencies. Moreover, agency workers are entitled to equal treatment as employees when it comes to pay and other benefits. 

Independent contractor in Belgium

Companies in Belgium have the option to engage independent contractors either directly or through a personal services company. Independent contractors in Belgium operate without being under the employer’s authority or in a subordinate position. This allows businesses to tap into specialised skills and expertise for specific projects or tasks.   

How to file as an independent contractor in Belgium

Independent contractors in Belgium are required to register for VAT. You must check if the goods or services you provide are subject to VAT in Belgium. If they are subject to VAT, independent contractors will need to apply for a VAT number, charge VAT on your invoices to clients, and file VAT returns. 

In addition, independent contractors are subject to personal income tax on their earnings in Belgium. The tax rates are progressive, ranging from 25% to 50%. They can keep records of income and expenses, as business-related expenses can be deducted from taxable income. If they live in Belgium for more than six months in a year, independent contractors must pay tax on your worldwide income exceeding €9,500 annually. 

Engaging with independent contractors

Hiring independent contractors involves compliance with local labour laws, tax regulations, and contractual agreements. These processes are often overwhelming, especially when you are unfamiliar with the market. This is even more challenging when you are engaging multiple contractors and managing their contracts, documentation, and performance. 

That’s why modern companies today are using contractor management solutions to bypass all these challenges. A contractor management solution provides a centralised platform to store and manage contractor information, ensuring easy access to contracts, agreements, and performance evaluations. To ensure effective contractor management for your company, choose a reliable contractor management provider like CXC to streamline processes, save time, and reduce administrative burden. This enables you to efficiently leverage contractors as part of your workforce strategy, enhancing your business’s agility and productivity.

In Belgium, either French, Dutch, or German is mandatory. This depends on their place of work or the registered office location of the business. Determining the place of work or location of the employer’s registered office is made on a case-by-case basis, considering specific circumstances.  

For businesses operating in Flanders, Dutch is the mandated language for employment documentation. In Wallonia, French is required, and in the Brussels-Capital Region, documents can be drafted in either Dutch or French, depending on the preference of the parties involved. The German-speaking community, though smaller, requires the use of German for all employment-related documents. 

Employers in Belgium must also provide any necessary translations or explanations to ensure that employees understand the terms and conditions of their employment

Payrolling in Belgium

To engage employees in Belgium, a foreign entity must have a proper registration as an employer, a proper registration of the employees, and proper payroll registrations. 

In terms of payroll setup, businesses must understand the payment of social charges on renumeration. For white-collar employees, the employer portion of social charges can reach up to approximately 27%; whereas the employee portion can reach up to 13.07%. Meanwhile, income tax is applicable at progressive rates based on the employee’s income with a maximum rate up to 53.5% which is updated periodically.   

Minimum wages have been revised in Belgium from 01 April 2024. The minimum wage for workers aged 18 has increased from €1,994.18 to €2,029.88 per month. In Belgium, the payroll frequency is monthly for work between the first and last day of the month and is typically paid on the last day of the month. 

How to set up payroll in Belgium

When it comes to the actual setup of payroll, businesses have the possibility to manage it in-house or outsource it to a payroll provider. Handling payroll in-house in Belgium demands a thorough understanding of the local labour laws, social security contributions, and tax regulations. 

Furthermore, the tax rates are among the highest in Europe, with effective rates for the highest earners (including social security) surpassing 50%. This compares to an average of 45% in Europe. Despite the high rates, companies are not required to set up an in-country bank account to make payroll payments to employees and tax authorities, offering some flexibility in managing finances from abroad. 

Employers must also strictly adhere to minimum wage laws, with payments typically processed on a monthly basis. 

You can consider outsourcing payroll services, either through local providers or global EOR solution provider like CXC, if your business does not have a substantial presence in Belgium. These services can handle the complexities of payroll setup and management, including tax administration and compliance with local labour laws.

International expansion made easy with CXC

Do not let the administrative and HR burdens associated with compliant hiring slow you down. Let us handle the complexities of global expansion so you can focus on more important and strategic aspects of your business. Our EOR service gives you the confidence to navigate new markets with ease.

Speak to our team, and our global hiring experts will provide the necessary guidance to address your specific needs.

Compliantly hire workers anywhere with CXC

With our EoR solution, you can engage workers anywhere in the world, without putting your business at risk. No more worrying about local labour laws, tax legislation or payroll customs — we’ve got you covered.

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