Employment Law in Belgium
Employment Law in BelgiumUpdated on Friday 11th September 2015
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The employment contract in Belgium
An employment contract is signed between an employer and an employee, both agreeing upon the conditions of the future collaboration. The employee agrees to work in exchange for a salary under the authority of an employer and the employer will remunerate this work according to the written understanding from the employment contract signed in Belgium. Therefore there are 4 elements included in the above mentioned contract: the performed work, the wage and other benefits, the subordination relation and the actual contract.
Clauses contained in the employment contract in Belgium
The employment contract in Belgium must contain a description of the employee’s duties, information regarding to the nature of his work, the place and time of his activities, work conditions, vacations, remuneration, and other special observations, such as trial clauses or non-competition and confidentiality. All the mentions stated in the contract must be respected by both parties and cannot be altered or in any way changed without the consent of both. The employment law in Belgium clearly states that if the employer reserves his right to change any part of the contract without noticing and receiving the employee’s consent, the respective contract will be considered null and void. Also if either one of the two parties change any of the stipulations in the Belgian employment contract, this will be terminated immediately and the other party is from that moment entitled to compensation in exchange for notice.
There are multiple types of employment contracts that can be signed in Belgium, such as fixed type or part-time employment contract, student employment contract, contract for specific work or replacement contract. It would be advisable to ask for consultancy from an experienced law firm in Belgium when drafting any of the above mentioned types of employment contract.
Due to the multilingual characteristic of the Belgian market, the clauses in the employment contracts must be stated in the language (French, Dutch or German) spoken in the region where the employer’s headquarters are placed. If an employee will be hired in Brussels (the bilingual capital of Belgium), the employment contract must be drafted in the language he speaks (French or Dutch).
Working hours in Belgium must not exceed eight per day but in cases the work beyond the statutory working hours is authorized the employees must receive compensatory rest times and payment. It is compulsory to pay overtime with 50 % above the normal wage rate, or 100 % in the case of work on Sundays or public holidays.
Termination of the employment contract in Belgium
An employment contract in Belgium can be terminated in the following conditions:
- Either one of the contractual parties gives notice for termination
- Dismissal for a violation of the employment contract or misconduct
- Mutual agreement
- Expiration of the agreed contractual period of employment
- Force majeure
There are several protected categories that cannot be dismissed, such as pregnant women, workers on paternity/maternity leave, trade union representatives and prevention advisers.
Notice for termination of an employment contract in Belgium
For either of the first three cases mentioned above a written notice is required to present the current employment situation and the start and duration of the notice period. This period differs depending on the professional status of the employee (manual workers or professional), seniority, salary or management status.
If an employer wants to dismiss a manual worker with less than 20 years of service he must award the worker a notice of 4 weeks. If this worker wants to resign, he must give a 2 weeks notice to the employer. In case the worker has over 20 years of service he will be given a notice of 8 weeks in case of dismissal and he will give a 4 weeks notice in case of resignation.
For employees with professional status the notice is calculated according to their income. If the employee’s gross salary is less than 25.277 EUR per year, he will be given a notice from his employer of at least 3 months in case the employee has less than 5 years of service. Each additional period of five years of service increases the notice period with another 3 months. If the employee wants to resign, he must present his employer with a notice corresponding to half the notice periods for dismissal but no more than 3 months. If the employee’s salary exceeds 25.277pe year, the periods of notice are agreed upon when the notice is given.
For more information regarding the employment contract in Belgium or consultancy regarding other legal issues please contact our law firm in Belgium. We will make sure to grant special attention to each and every client’s case in order to personalized consultancy for each business.