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Secondment and deployment of employees in Belgium

Secondment and deployment of employees in Belgium

Do you want to second your personnel to Belgium? Or do you employ Belgian staff to be hired out to third parties?

If yes, please note that Belgium enforces very strict regulations in this area compared to its neighbours (including the Netherlands). Belgium even upholds a principle prohibition of deployment of employees (also referred to as temporary assignment of personnel or secondment), with very few exceptions.

What does the prohibition of deployment involve?

The prohibition pertains to:
  • deployment of employees to a third party (the user company)
  • that makes use of the services of such employees and
  • that exercises all or some of the authority that is normally exercised by the employer of the hired employees.
The prohibition of secondment of employees does not apply to temporary work agencies; however, such agencies are subject to a licensing obligation at fairly strict conditions. Contracting or sub-contracting of work, where employees in another company perform certain works or services at the risk and expense and at the instructions of their own employer, is not prohibited – but please note the following!

Deployment or contracting / sub-contracting?

In practice, it is sometimes challenging to determine if a situation concerns contracting / sub-contracting or deployment. In such a situation, it is important to determine who instructs the relevant employees about which issues:

Health and safety on site:
Compliance by a third party of obligations relating to health and safety on site cannot be regarded as exercising full or partial employer authority. This means that a situation does not concern prohibited deployment if a third-party user instructs employees working for another employer in this area.

Other aspects:
For issues that are not related to health and safety on site (i.e. all other cases), the following rules apply:

  • The employer and user company must conclude an agreement in writing
  • The de facto organisation and completion of the assignment must be fully in accordance with the provisions set out in the agreement
  • The instruction options that are transferred to the principal pursuant to the agreement may not have such a scope that these erode employer authority

What could go wrong?

If you are not in compliance with one or more of these conditions, you are committing an offence. The social inspectorate may review the details of the agreement concluded between the parties and assess it compared with the actual situation and vice versa. In reality, this will seldom be problematic. However, the latter condition may give rise to interpretation and discussion more frequently, as this does not concern a clear quantitative or qualitative criterion: when is the employer’s authority eroded to such extent that it concerns a prohibited secondment?

Avoid problems!

Do you have a situation of secondment, deployment or contracting / sub-contracting in Belgium? Please contact us in advance to avoid any problems. If required, we will issue advice in the assessment of your specific situation, or when preparing an appropriate agreement.

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Since 1972, Interfisc has offered international HR & Payroll solutions in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy. We do this from our offices in the Netherlands and Belgium, and with an international team of around 45 committed and caring employees. 

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