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The labour market in Belgium

Each labour market has some peculiarities. It may be tricky for foreigners to fully understand the payment methods, the taxes and other benefits related to them. In TalentUp, we are starting a series of different blog articles, one for each country. This article analyses the labour market in Belgium.

General data about the Belgian labour market

Belgian minimum wage and maximum working hours disclosure. Data for January 2024. Source: https://www.papayaglobal.com/countrypedia/country/belgium/

Payroll taxes in Belgium

Social security contributions are made by the employer and the employee and are used for funding unemployment, pension, maternity/paternity leave, and sickness or injury.

Share of contingencies applied to the gross salary. Data source: https://www.papayaglobal.com/countrypedia/country/belgium/

Once contributions are paid, employees need to pay an income tax that varies depending on their gross salaries. 

Example of net salary in Belgium

As a reference, we use the average salary of a software engineer. In Belgium, on average, software engineers earn 67,200€ annually.

From gross to net salary of a software engineer in Belgium.

The employer contributes 16,800€ to social security, and the employee contributes 8,783.04€.

After paying the income tax, the employee has a net salary of 34,151.96€, coming from a gross salary of 67,200€.

Unemployment regulation in Belgium

Notice periods are dependent on the length of service or employment.

Notice periods in Belgian contracts.  Data source: https://www.papayaglobal.com/countrypedia/country/belgium/

There is no probation period in Belgium.

Different kinds of leaves in Belgium

For a five-day week, employees are entitled to 20 days of paid annual leave, and for a six-day week, 24 days. Carryover of leave is not permitted. They have 10 days of public holidays.

The employer will pay for the first 30 days of sick leave, and after that, the Health Insurance Fund will only pay 60% of the salary.

Leaves for family care or when assisting a seriously ill household or family member are also granted. Also due to the death of a family member or the marriage of the employee or family member.

Maternity leave lasts for 15 weeks. In the case of complicated or multiple births, it lasts for 19 weeks. 

At least one week’s leave should be taken before the birth. Prenatal leave lasts for a maximum of 6 weeks. The minimum duration of postnatal leave is 9 weeks.

Maternity leave is paid at 92% for the first few months and at 75% after that by the Health Insurance Fund. The employer does not pay.

Fathers can take 20 paid paternity leave days within 4 months of birth. It can be taken separately, in a row, or as 40 half-days. The employer covers the first three days in full, and after that, 17 days of health insurance at a cap of 82% of salary.

There is a leave of six weeks in case of adoption.

Other common Belgian benefits

Top 5 benefits offered by Belgian companies. Datasource: TalentUp’s database.

How to employ a Belgian worker

If you want to hire staff in Belgium, you need to:

  • Register the company in Belgium
  • Draw up a valid contract
  • Get industrial insurance for accident
  • Apply for NSSO number
  • Join the social secretariat
  • Join the External Service for Prevention and Protection at Work
  • Stating all labour regulations