Visas and Work Permits — 6 min
Exclusively hiring local talent can restrict your business growth, especially if you have diverse needs. Thanks to rapid developments in technology and communications, companies can now hire skilled workers from all over the world. With its stable economy and vibrant labor market, Belgium could be the ideal choice if you’re looking to grow your team in Europe.
But hiring independent contractors in Belgium has its share of challenges. You’ll need to have a good understanding of local regulations and guidelines. You’ll also have to be aware of the risk of misclassification, which can result in heavy penalties by the Belgian government.
There’s no need to worry, though. We’ve put this guide together to help you streamline your contractor management process once you’ve decided to hire international contractors in Belgium. In this article, we’ll take you through key elements of Belgian labor laws and tax practices, so that you can hire your team compliantly.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Belgium has a highly skilled and educated workforce, thanks to its strong economy and favorable working conditions. Like any other country, Belgium has a set of employment regulations that businesses must adhere to. When hiring contractors in Belgium, hiring managers should consider the local hiring laws, compliance regulations, and tax system.
Belgium has different regulations for contractors, full-time workers, and self-employed individuals. All companies hiring from Belgium need to understand the consequences of misclassifying workers or risk facing fines and penalties.
Belgium doesn’t have a codified employment law, but there are several federal labor regulations in place to protect the country’s workers. Belgian employees are legally protected against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender expression, race, religion, and age. When you’re hiring independent contractors in Belgium, you have to make sure that none of your policies or requirements are discriminatory in any way. You can visit the official government website for detailed information about labor regulations in Belgium.
It can be challenging to pay international contractors, especially when you're managing a team of global contractors. Even experienced companies have trouble managing payments. When you’re hiring and paying globally, there are additional considerations to keep in mind, such as taxes and compliance.
You can pay independent contractors in Belgium using the following methods:
Digital transfer services like PayPal and Wise
Alternatively, you can use Remote’s international contractor management platform to make payments quickly and easily. With Remote, you can pay contractors in Belgium in the local currency without worrying about manual currency conversions or exchange rates. Plus, you can sign and edit contract templates, ensuring compliance with Belgian laws.
Employees and independent contractors are different entities as per Belgian labor law. In essence, the more control a company exerts over the worker, the more likely the worker can be categorized as an employee.
An employee is a worker who is bound by a contract that defines the following key elements: relationship of authority, remuneration, and work description and responsibilities. Meanwhile, an independent contractor is a self-employed worker, who can work for many clients at a time.
Independent contractors have a higher degree of freedom concerning their daily work performance and execution than employees. An independent contractor is also free to organize their own schedule. Unlike employees, they do not have to work specific hours and can take as many breaks as they want as long as they meet the assigned deadlines.
Contractors don’t receive a regular salary but are paid at milestones or at the end of a project or contract after they submit an invoice to the employer. Additionally, a company normally provides the equipment for their employees, whereas contractors use their own tools, subscriptions, and other necessary equipment.
In Belgium, independent contractors, unlike employees, are not entitled to specific benefits such as holiday leave, overtime pay, and social security. However, employers may choose to offer additional benefits if they want to retain their contractors. However, this increases the risk of misclassification because there's a chance of treating your contractors as employees.
If you misclassify your Belgian contractors, you may have to face regulatory fines, business bans, and loss of intellectual property (IP) rights. If your worker’s classification is challenged, it could raise questions about the ownership of the work produced.
Remote helps eliminate the risk of misclassification when you’re hiring international contractors. We can make sure that your business stays compliant with classification guidelines, minimizing the risk of fines, bans, or legal disputes.
Here are some crucial things a hiring manager should know before hiring in Belgium:
Minimum wage: Belgium's minimum wage is among the highest in the European Union. The government reviews it biannually to ensure it syncs with the current price levels. The minimum wage in 2023 is 1,955 Euros per month.
Benefits package: Employees are entitled to a range of statutory working benefits including paid holidays, pension schemes, flexible work schedules, life insurance, overtime pay, and maternity and paternity leave.
Paid time off: If your Belgian employees work five days a week, they are entitled to 20 paid leaves a year. If they work six days a week, they are entitled to 24 paid leaves a year.
Probation period: There is no probation period in Belgium and it has no legal value.
Maternity leave: Pregnant workers are entitled to 15 weeks of extended maternity leave. The mother can take a paid leave of up to six weeks before the due date. Parental leave can be taken as four consecutive months or broken down into reduced working hours or various shorter periods adding up to four months.
Termination: Employers can terminate workers if the grounds for dismissal are fair. The termination notice period depends on how long the worker has been working for the employer. For instance, the employer needs to give a two-week notice for employment lasting less than three months. Meanwhile, an eight-week notice is required for employment lasting a year to 15 months.
As contractors are self-employed workers, the protective rules of Belgian labor laws don't apply. Signing a contract with the contractor is a good way to ensure compliance, and ensures that you're treating your contractor fairly.
If you partner with a global contractor management service like Remote, you don't have to worry about drafting localized employment contracts. Our team of experts will help you sort out compliant contractor contracts so that you can onboard your new team quickly.
Contractors in Belgium are responsible for filing their tax returns via paper format or the tax-on-web service called MyMinFin. Contractors earning income from Italy, Spain, Greece, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands have to follow specific guidelines for declaring this income on their tax returns.
If you’re a US company hiring independent contractors in Belgium, you have to follow certain tax compliance regulations specified by the Internal Revenue Service. You must collect Form W-8 BEN from your independent contractors working outside the US, such as in Belgium. Additionally, you have to fill out the 1096 form that covers information about your contractors.
You don’t have to be stressed by the paperwork — as long as you rely on a solid contractor management system like Remote that can do the heavy lifting for you. When contractors are onboarded to our platform, they’ll be directed to fill and submit the relevant forms — saving you the time and hassle of chasing contractors for their information. For more information, read about our tax compliance feature for US companies.
If you’re happy with your contractor's work and want them to play a more significant role in your company, you can convert your contractor into an employee. In this way, you can offer them additional benefits and a better employee experience. It also helps to protect your company’s IP and invention rights. When the person doing the work is your employee rather than a contractor, you have more control over your IP rights.
Converting your contractor to an employee can also be a great move if you’ve been working with your freelancer for months or years without renewing their contract. Onboarding your contractor as an employee can help you make sure that you’re complying with the country’s labor and tax laws.
Of course, the process of converting your contractor to an employee is not straightforward. You have to offer them an updated employment contract, set up payroll, and provide additional benefits. Remote can handle this process for you quickly and compliantly, so that you can enjoy absolute peace of mind.
Belgium's strong economy and high living standards indicate that there are plenty of skilled workers in the country. But considering the legal regulations and misclassification risks, hiring and paying contractors in Belgium can get tricky. If you fail to comply with Belgian laws, the consequences can damage your company's reputation.
Remote's contractor management platform is an all-in-one solution, no matter the size and industry of your business. It saves you time, hassle, and money — while ensuring you stay compliant with local regulations. With Remote’s easy-to-use platform, you can:
Manage global contractors in one place
Draft localized contracts and onboard new contractors quickly
Pay independent contractors globally and save time with automated invoices
Stay compliant with Belgian labor and tax laws
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