Economic stimulus plan
Last update: 12 February 2013 - 16:00 CET
The plan contains social security measures which aim to stimulate Belgian employment, particularly with the population's young and older workers.
From 2013, the Government not only wants to create 10,000 internships for students graduating from school but it also wants to encourage the hiring of interns on an employment contract.
Companies that decide to hire young individuals after their internships would be entitled to an employer contributions reduction for a period going up to 4 years.
Furthermore, the social contributions reduction will be doubled quarterly by EUR 800 for companies that ensure a good quality development framework for young employees.
Employment support system
To render employment support systems more effective, the Government plans to further reduce employer contributions for low salaries and during the young and older employees' starting periods.
Moreover, the plan sees the realignment of current employer contribution reductions towards the employment of little to moderately qualified workers and those above the age of 54.
As confirmed by the Council of Ministers' 5 October 2012 meeting (Dutch | French), the bill for a near 50% increase in employer contribution reductions has been approved by the Government at its second reading and has been submitted to Parliament. In practice, this measure will mean that a company will not have to pay any employer contributions during an 8 trimester period if it hires a poorly qualified young worker with a gross monthly salary of EUR 1,900.
A second reading Government approval has also been given to the bills regarding employer contribution reductions for low salaries and the elimination of benefit trap through an adjustment of personal contributions reductions. These have also been submitted for the Parliament's consideration.
Further contribution reductions
The plan also includes the following measures:
- Increase of salary limit within which employers can benefit from an accrued reduction in contributions. Employers would be able to obtain this reduction for a larger number of workers. From 2014, the above mentioned limit will be indexed to match the evolution of living costs.
- Reduction of social contributions upon the hiring of persons with disabilities
This measure came into effect on 1 October 2012. The Council of Ministers meeting of 5 October 2012 (Dutch | French) confirmed that the reduction is increased by over 50%, thus eliminating all employer social contributions for a first hire with a gross monthly salary that is equal to or less than EUR 1,900.
A Royal Decree for this measure will eventually be published on the Belgian Official Journal.
The government has included specific measures to support the hotel and catering industry, which employs more than 100,000 workers in Belgium.
Reduction of social security contributions
When put into effect, the measures entail the reduction of social security contributions. The reductions would be applied differently for each of the two employment types within the industry.
From 1 July 2013 and for companies with no more than 20 employees, social security contributions reductions would be provided for 5 selected full-time workers with fixed contracts. This reduction would increase by EUR 500 on a quarterly basis, by EUR 800 if the worker is under 26 years of age.
In order to obtain the reduction, the employer must register all workers.
The underlying objective of this measure is in fact to encourage stable and good quality employment as well as to tackle fraud in this sector.
From 1 January 2013, seasonal workers would be able to gain a beneficial social status during 50 days. Their social contributions will be calculated on a default EUR 7.5 per hour basis with a maximum of EUR 45 per day. Employers would only be able to use this system for a maximum 100 days per calendar year.
Seasonal workers who perform within the above framework will be specifically taxed at the rate of 33%.