Belgium: Brussels HR Law Focus Newsletter - January 2016

Last Updated: 26 January 2016
Article by Stefan Nerinckx and Anne Kamp

Our "HR Law Focus" newsletter is issued each time we see new legislation or case law that we believe might be important for your business.

Furthermore as we do every half-year, we are hosting an HR Law lunch seminar (French/Dutch) at our Brussels office. On Tuesday 26 January from noon till 2.30 pm we will delve into the most important HR law topics (legislation and case law) of the last 6 months amongst which the subjects below.

Social security contributions for self-employed workers decrease

As of 1 January 2016, social security contributions for self-employed workers decrease as far as the lowest income threshold is concerned (for income< 15,831.12 EUR). For the calculation of the contributions related to the professional income higher than 15,831.12 EUR (55.576,94 EUR in 2015) and with a maximum of 23.330,06 EUR (81.902,81 EUR in 2015), nothing changes.

Below you will find an overview of the applicable and future decrease in contribution rates:

Date   of entry into effect

income   threshold (in EUR


As   of 1 January 2016

<   15.831,12 (55,576.94 for 2015 income – the 2016 basis is not yet known)

21.50%   instead of 22%

As   of 1 January 2017

<   15.831,12 (amount to be indexed)

21%   instead of 21.50%

As   of 1 January 2018

<   15.831,12 (amount to be indexed)

20.50%   instead of 21%

Specific rules exist for starting self-employed workers (first three years of activity), who will be able to benefit sooner from these reductions.

Employer contributions for employees' social security decrease

The maximum number of employees that gives entitlement to a "first hires" reduction is being brought to six as from 1 January 2016. "An employer who for at least four successive quarters that precede the quarter of recruitment of a sixth employee has not been subject to social security for employees for more than five employees (several exceptions are provided)" is considered a new employer of a sixth employee. Moreover, for the first employee, a total exemption of payment of employer's social security contributions is introduced for employers hiring a first employee in years 2016 to 2020.

The Government Agreement provided furthermore that the government would reduce the base percentage of the employer's contributions with the objective of progressively achieving a base percentage of 25%.

The base rate of 32.4% for the employer's contributions was being decreased by a structural reduction proportional to the amount of the salary.

The aim is to achieve a base contribution rate of 25% for employer's contributions by 2018. To reach the desired objective with regard to reduction of the employer's contributions different options are being applied amongst which the adjustment of the percentage of the wage moderation contribution in the profit sector.

Thus in the 2016/2017 period, the employer's contributions (without wage moderation contribution) are being limited to 22.65%; in the 2018-2020 period (without wage moderation contribution) to 19.88%.

Special contribution reductions are being applied for the construction sector. Other special provisions hold for the non-profit and social profit sectors.

Also in the 2016-2019 period, the low salaries are being re-evaluated (change to average salaries). Furthermore the existing rates at 25% for e.g. low salaries, high salaries, first five hires, etc. are to be maintained.


Anyone who in the context of the end of an employment contract subject to a notice period or payment of compensation in lieu of notice of more than thirty weeks is entitled to outplacement. For an employee whose employment agreement is terminated with payment of a compensation in lieu of notice, this compensation is reduced with 4 weeks salary, corresponding to the value of outplacement. This deduction is meant to cover the costs borne by the employer in relation to outplacement (value of one twelfth of the annual remuneration in the calendar year preceding dismissal, with a minimum value of 1800 euro and a maximum value of 5500 euro).

Until the end of last year (31 December 2015), a temporary system gave workers the right to refuse outplacement. In this case, the employer could not deduct the four weeks of salary.

As from 1 January 2016, this deduction will in any case be made, whether an employee decides to participate to outplacement not.

During our HR-lunch seminar of Tuesday 26 January 2016 (noon), we will elaborate on the calculation of the value to deduct (also when a JC is providing for outplacement).

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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