Belgium: Di Rupo's General Policy Statement Read With "Social Law" Glasses - Part 2

Last Updated: 18 January 2013
Article by Marcel Houben

On 21 November 2012 Prime Minister Di Rupo presented the General Policy Statement of the federal government to the federal parliament.

As already mentioned in the preceding newsletter, from a social law point of view, four elements of the General Policy Statement catch the eye: 1) increasing the competitiveness of our enterprises by eliminating the salary gap with our surrounding countries; 2) further increasing the competitiveness of our enterprises by lowering the social charges; 3) increasing job opportunities for younger and elder workers; and 4) stimulating the continued training of the workers. In that newsletter, we concentrated on the elimination of the salary gap with our surrounding countries. In this newsletter we will elaborate on the other elements of attention.

As to the reduction of social charges, it looks like the SMEs will benefit in the first place: reductions of contributions have already been introduced for the first three hiring's; these reductions will be increased in such a way that some employers will almost be released from payment of social security contributions during the first two years for workers with low or moderate salaries. During the third year, reduced contributions will still remain to be applicable.

Also within the context of the promotion of employment of elder workers, higher reductions of social security charges have been announced: while the reductions will be applicable as from the age of 54, the amount of the reduction will be increased considerably depending on the age of the worker, provided the salary does not exceed the quarterly ceiling. For the record, reference be made here also to the "law program" of 29 March 2012 and the CLA n° 104, providing for the establishment and the implementation, for the first time in 2013, of an employment plan for elder workers (workers aged 45 and above).

Also for the young workers, the system of the reduction of social security contributions will be improved.

Likewise, the system of the "employment bonus"  (reduction of the worker's contributions to the social security for the workers with lower salaries) will be improved.

The reduction of the employer's contributions to the social security for workers, acting as "mentor" (workers in particular in charge of the training of persons belonging to the target groups), is part of the policy to stimulate continued training. As from 2013 the system will also be simplified from an administrative point of view. Within this context, reference should also be made to the obligation of the employers to make "employment training sites" available, as laid down in the law of 27 December 2012 relating to the employment plan.

The "law program" of 27 December 2012 includes a stipulation in the law of 3 July 1978 relating to the employment contracts, introducing in that law the obligation in principle of the employer to establish and implement  a "training plan". The terms of this obligation are yet to be specified by royal decree.

Finally, reference must be made to Title 3 of the "law program" of 27 December 2012: in line with the stipulations relating to the fight against fiscal fraud, this Title introduces legal stipulations concerning the fight against social fraud.

Attention is paid in particular to the fight against fraud in the field of assignments (putting workers at the disposal of third party users, as well as the implementation of the European rules on determining the applicable legislation in the field of social security in case of disposal of workers between UE Member States) and to the fight against avoidance and evasion of legal obligations in the field of social law. Which legal stipulations will be particularly at stake, is yet to be decided by royal decree.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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