New Employment & Labour Laws in Belgium 2017

A New Year and new laws are awaiting employers in Belgium. 

Many are aimed at providing incentives to businesses in order to stimulate local labour markets while others may add additional red tape to already complex human resource management programs.

This article is part of  ELLINT ‘s January newsletter  which provides employers with a snapshot what they need to know about new regulations which may impact their human resource management and strategies over the next 12 months around Europe.


Salary Increases:

Belgium is one of the few countries in Europe where in almost every industry employees’ salaries are automatically adjusted to the cost of living through automatic indexation mechanisms. This means that as of January 1st,  2017 salaries will automatically increase by approximately 1.15%.  However, local trade unions and the employer’s federations are expected to start bi-annual negotiations to set the framework for the evolution of the salaries for the years 2017-2018. In order to protect Belgium’s competitive position in terms of wage cost (compared to neighboring countries) it is expected that the margin for salary increases will most likely be capped at around 1% for the next two years.

Back to Work?

The Belgian government has introduced new measures for employees who would like to  return back to work after a long term illness.  As of January 1st, 2017 any employee on long term sick leave may request their old job back, or another role within the company – with adjusted employment conditions.  When such a request is made, an occupational doctor must confirm that the employee is fit enough to return to the workplace. If they are, then the employer must either make an individual detailed proposal to the employee – or technically or factually justify why it is not possible, or reasonable, for the company to accept the employee back.

The dismissal of an employee with a permanent medical health condition will only be allowed if the occupational doctor confirms that the employee will never be able to perform any job within the company, or if no suitable alternative or adjusted job can be proposed – or is accepted by the employee.

Labour Reforms:

The Belgian government has announced a great number of labor law reforms to increase the flexibility of the organization of work. For example  the creation of a holiday savings account system, more flexible working time schedules and voluntary over-time work.  However, it is uncertain whether these announced reforms will be implemented as negotiations with the local trade unions will be required before they can be put into practice.

For more information visit Sotra