Belgium: New Rules About Student Working Hours and Contribution Rates

June 15, 2021
3 mins read
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The Belgian government recently announced a change to the number of hours a student can work and what social contributions each must make. 

Who is eligible for student work?

  • A student who is at least 16 years of age, or 15 years if they have finished the first 2 years of secondary school and are completing a full-time training curriculum. A student following a part-time training curriculum is not eligible.  
  • A student graduating in June can work with a student contract until September 30 of the same year. 
  • Students may work up to a maximum of 12 subsequent months. 

Lower solidarity contribution for student work and quota of 475 hours

In some cases, student work is exempt from regular social security contributions. 

Student work is subject to a much lower solidarity contribution – 5.42% for the employer and 2.71% for the student- provided that all of the following are met: 

  • The student is employed under an agreement that contains mandatory provisions and is completed before the start of the activities. A student contract is always a fixed-term contract with a maximum of 12 months. 
  • The student works a maximum of 475 hours during the calendar year. If the student works more than 475 hours, the solidarity contribution is no longer applicable, and regular social security contributions are due from the 476th hour onwards. They can consult Student@work to check on the number of hours they have completed. They can also download a certificate confirming the number of available hours left. It is recommended to request this certificate in advance to ensure the exact number of quota hours the student has left. 
  • The student is only permitted to work during periods they do not have to be present at school. 
  • The employer has performed a specific Dimona declaration for the student before the start of employment. If they prefer that their payroll business partner makes this declaration, please inform them at least 2 working days before the beginning of the employment. 

Salary and working conditions

Employers must pay student workers the minimum wage of the sector they are operating in unless the area itself provides an exception for student work. 

The same labor law rules apply to students as to regular employees.  

A student contract contains a trial period of 3 days. Students can only work one-third of an average working week- this means they can only work 13 or less if you operate a 38 hour week. Night work is prohibited in most cases for minors. 

Enrolment certificate

Employers must demonstrate that the person employed is a student. Therefore, the National Shared Services Office (NSSO) requires that you obtain proof of the student’s current enrolment- a certificate from the college or school is sufficient. It is recommended that an employer requests the student to provide them with a copy of this enrolment certificate before they start working.   

COVID-19 and extensions to the work quota and security payments

To enable students to alleviate the increased work pressure in certain sectors due to the pandemic, the hours a student worked in the health care and education sector in the first and second quarter of 2021 (January 1, 2021, to June 30, 2021) will not count towards the annual quota of 475 hours. 

Students who worked in the health care or education sector in the first 6 months of 2021 can work more than 475 hours at the lower contribution rate in 2021. 

This rule is also applicable for students who are employed in the health care or education sector through a temporary employment agency. The other principles mentioned above remain valid. 

The Belgian government has also decided that the hours worked by the students in the third quarter (July 1, 2021, to September 30, 2021) in sectors that were closed due to COVID-19 but which have reopened – restaurants and pubs, the event sector, and cultural sector– will not count towards the annual quota of 475 hours. 

Editor’s note- at the time of publication, we are waiting for the government’s decision on this.  

What are the employer’s responsibilities?

Before the start of the student’s employment: 

  • Request enrolment certificate and certificate from Student@work 
  • Sign a student contract 
  • Perform a Dimona declaration. 

At the beginning of employment: 

  • Give the student a copy of the working regulations and ask them to sign an acknowledgment of receipt.
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