Recruiting in Belgium allows international companies that have undertaken Global Expansion to activate their business plans. Belgium’s membership in the European Union (EU) means workers from fellow EU nations have free movement into the employment market, along with those from Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland, and Switzerland. Although this widens the net, employers must generally first offer jobs to locals, with some exemptions applying to highly-skilled individuals in skills shortage sectors.

An unusual challenge facing foreign companies stems from Belgium’s three official languages affecting social and business life. Dutch speakers generally have good knowledge of English, particularly in the Brussels-Capital region. Around 60% of Belgians speak Dutch in the northern region of Flanders. In Wallonia in the south, over 30% speak French, with a small percentage in East Belgium speaking German.

Finding and recruiting Top Talent in Belgium is always a primary task, particularly thousands of miles from home base. The recruitment process is rarely straightforward, and reels of red tape must be unravelled. Once staff are in place, employers must comply with strictly-applied legislation that sets out their obligations and protects the rights of employees. This is where Bradford Jacobs’ expertise is vital for taking the smartest recruitment route into Belgium. Bradford Jacobs’ Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) networks have a global reach. We will have your staff up and running in the shortest time. You can trust Bradford Jacobs to put your company’s brightest talent in place.

Recruiting in Belgium

International companies recruiting in Belgium have a broader target market than Belgian citizens. Belgium’s European Union (EU) membership allows workers from fellow EU nations to have free movement into the employment market, along with those from the European Economic Area (EEA) countries of Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland, and Switzerland.

Recruitment is the first stage in making your company successful and competitive in Belgium. However, employers generally must prove that a Belgian or EU national cannot fill vacant positions before being offered to a ‘Third Country National’. This complicates recruiting from major employment markets such as the USA, UK, Australia and Asia. But these restrictions complicate moving staff into the country and obtaining correct immigration and work documentation.

Once employees are recruited and onboarded in Belgium, the employer must comply with responsibilities, including:

  • Registering employees with the National Social Security Office (NSSO). NSSO regulations apply to employees who work on Belgian territory for an employer in Belgium and employees in the Belgian-registered office of a foreign company.
  • Digitally submitting to the NSSO the employee’s Dimona (Immediate Declaration) before they start work.
  • Once employees are working, employers must file the DMFA (Quarterly Declaration), itemising their role, hours worked, and salary payments for checks made by the social insurance and tax authorities.
  • Foreign companies sending employees to work in Belgium, who may work part-time or temporarily, must complete the Limosa declaration before they start work or risk criminal or administrative sanctions.
  • Registering employees with the appropriate local office of the General Administration of Taxation (FPS).

Employees' Legal Checks in Belgium

When recruiting in Belgium, employees’ pre-hire checks are a grey area to be treated with caution. Checks should be restricted to questions relevant to the position and the applicant’s capabilities, qualifications and experience for the role. Outside of these parameters, candidates have the right to refuse to answer. Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) can prohibit employers from asking certain questions.

Criminal record checks: Must be specifically relevant to the role and sector, such as the security positions.

Education and reference checks: Permissible when relevant to the role and with the applicant’s agreement.

Health and medical checks: Legally required for certain sectors and roles, such as the food industry, transportation and operating heavy-duty equipment.

Privacy: Using social media as a source of information should stay within the guidelines of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and anti-discrimination laws.

Required: Immigration and work permit compliance.

Basic Facts when Recruiting in Belgium

International companies recruiting in Belgium must be aware of basic facts on hiring staff and employment legislation demands:

  • At interviews, employers can ask questions only genuinely relevant to the nature and working conditions of the job. The applicant can refuse to answer questions that violate privacy or anti-discrimination laws.
  • Terms and conditions are generally embedded in CBAs, not laws.
  • Minimum wages can be fixed per industry sector as long as they are not below the average set by national CBAs.
  • Maximum average working time is 38 hours per week and eight hours per day, with exceptions such as shift work and flexi-time.
  • Where authorized, overtime pay is at least 1.5 times the regular rate and twice if performed on a Sunday or public holiday.
  • Oral contracts are permitted generally but must be in writing for fixed-term, part-time or remote working.

After hiring and onboarding new staff, employers must comply with their employees’ statutory entitlements. Mandatory standards include sick leave, working hours, maternity allowances, paid vacations, termination and severance and notice periods. Contracts or legally-binding CBAs can improve all statutory minimums. Examples include:

  • The employer pays the first 30 days of sick leave based on a regular salary, with extra days paid by the Heath Insurance Fund (Mutuelle/Ziekenfonds). Employers require a medical certificate and may request an independent medical practitioner to confirm incapacity.
  • Weekly working hours should not exceed 38, or average 38 over a specified reference period but still not exceed 40 a day, or compensatory rest days apply. CBAs and work committees can set fewer working hours and longer breaks than the minimum of 15 minutes for working six hours.
  • Maternity leave is 15 weeks, usually six pre-natal, with five of those optional, with the balance added to the post-natal period. The last week before the due date must be taken. The benefit is 82% of salary for the first 30 days (no ceiling); 75% (capped at €104.80, US$104.30 each day) from the 31st day, paid from employees’ mutual insurance fund.


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