There are a number of changes to social legislation.

Many of these measures are the result of a "programme law (programmawet-loi de programme)" published at the end of last year, several of which have already entered into force since 1 January 2023.

Here is a brief overview of 15 of the most important measures:

1. Social security contributions: reduction and postponement

Net employer contributions will be automatically reduced by 7.07% in the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2023 for compliant companies.

For the 3rd and 4th quarters, companies can request for a deferral of 7.07% of net employer contributions.

Employers who want to make use of this postponement must submit a request to the Social Security Service (RSZ-ONSS) for each quarter concerned. The contributions covered by this postponement will be collected by the RSZ-ONSS during the year 2025 in four equal instalments, spread over the four quarters of the year.

2. Social security contributions limitation period is extended

The limitation period for RSZ-ONSS claims will be extended from 7 to 10 years with effect from 1 January 2023 in cases of social fraud, fraudulent acts or deliberately incomplete declarations by the employer and fraudulent applications for social allowances.

This extension concerns only periods not time-barred by that date under the current regime, i.e. periods from the fourth quarter of 2015.

3. Saturday remains a "working day"

This is an erratum to our article of 19 October 2022.

With the introduction of the new Civil Code, Saturday is no longer considered a working day in civil law from 1 January 2023, unless the law or a legal act provides otherwise. 

This is the case in social legislation. The law of 30 December 2022 states that the new civil provision does not apply to the regulation of labour relations and therefore Saturday remains a working day for the calculation of time limits. This followed an opinion issued by the National Labour Council, which was in favour of maintaining the current concept of working day in matters of of labour relations, social security and social assistance.

Saturday will thus remain a working day in labour and social security law. Only Sundays and public holidays remain excluded.

4. Extension of electronic registration in the cleaning sector

To combat social fraud and improve safety at work, the new “programme law” responds to the explicit request of the social partners to no longer limit the attendance list to arrival at the workplace, but to expand it to departure and breaks.

This expanded registration obligation applies to all workplaces where cleaning and maintenance activities are performed, regardless of their value.

It applies to all natural persons present at a workplace where cleaning and/or maintenance activities are performed, regardless of their status (employees, self-employed, seconded workers, contractors, subcontractors, etc.). ).

However, the date of entry into force of this measure has yet to be determined and should be no later than 1 January 2024.

5. Increase of the number of hours job students may work

From 1 January 2023, students can work a maximum of 600 hours per year in 2023 and 2024 (instead of 475 hours).

6. Recovery of unduly received temporary unemployment benefits

From 1 January 2023, the RVA-ONEM can recover benefits wrongfully received from employers who have invoked temporary unemployment.

7. Abolition of reimbursement of outplacement allowances

An employer who proceeds to collective redundancy must, under certain conditions, pay an outplacement allowance to each employee registered in an employment cell who has worked continuously for that employer for at least one year at the time of the announcement of the collective redundancy.

If the amount of this outplacement allowance is higher than the amount of the severance payment, the employer may be reimbursed the difference between these two amounts by the RVA-ONEM.

This refund will be abolished from 1 January 2023 for collective redundancies announced after 31 December 2022.

8. Accountability contribution for excessive use of agency work

From 1 January 2023, an accountability contribution will be due when temporary workers are too often recruited through successive temporary employment contracts of very short duration.

This accountability contribution does not apply to temporary workers receiving a retirement or survivor's pension, flexi-jobs and casual workers with a user belonging to the Joint Committee for Agriculture, Horticulture and the Hotel Industry.

9. Expanding the scope of flexi jobs

From 1 January 2023, employers in the sports, exploitation of cinema halls, entertainment business, health care facilities and services and similar public care will be able to employ flexi-workers.

10. Continuing measures to address staff shortages in the healthcare sector

The existing measures regarding staff shortages in the healthcare sector will be extended until 31 March 2023.

These measures are designed to allow a number of temporary derogations in the short term to facilitate the employment of students, temporarily unemployed, pensioners, workers on career break, time credit and thematic leave in the care sector.

11. Disability premium

From 1 April 2023, a premium of €1,000.00 will be granted to employers who employ an incapacitated employee (i.e. incapacitated for at least 1 year) who receives permission from the health insurance fund doctor to return to work.

12. Contribution to the "Back to work fund" by employers

The law requires employers who invoke medical force majeure to terminate the employment contract of an incapacitated employee to make a financial contribution of EUR 1,800.00 to the "Back to Work Fund". Violation of this contribution obligation is punishable by a Level 2 sanction under the Social Penal Code.

This obligation has not yet entered into force and will enter into force shortly through a royal decree.

13. Increase in the contribution for the use of unemployment with company allowance

The unemployment with company supplement system, abbreviated 'SWT', is a system of full unemployment supplemented by a company supplement.

Special employer contribution rates are increased for 2 years in the unemployment with company supplement scheme, both for new entrants and for workers already in the system.

Consequently, the rate will be multiplied by 1.047 from 1 January 2023 and increased to 1.094 from 1 January 2024.

14. Increase in special activation contribution in case of benefit waiver

This contribution is intended to discourage employers from exempting their employees from benefits by withholding all or part of their wages in order not to apply the stricter rules of the Single Payment Scheme (SWT, see point 12) in case of unemployment.

From 1 January 2023, the special activation contribution will be increased to 20% for everyone under 60.

The special contribution for employers who have to pay such a contribution for at least 10% of their employees will be increased by 25%.

15. Reform of the copyright system

Copyright enjoys a favourable tax regime.

Under certain conditions, income from remuneration for the transfer or licensing of copyright and related rights is taxed as income from movable property up to a maximum amount of EUR 64,070 (amount for tax year 2023). Consequently, they are not subject to withholding tax on income from employment, but to withholding tax on at a favourable rate of 15%. If the ceiling is exceeded, these remunerations will be considered professional income taxed at the general progressive rate.

The reform does not affect tax rates on copyright fees, but from 1 January 2023, the Income Tax Code will be amended in terms of scope (i) and ceiling (ii):

  1. From now on, only holders of an artwork certificate will be eligible for the favourable tax regime on movable income. If the author of a protected work does not have such a certificate, he or she will have to prove that the work is intended to be shared with a public or performed in public.
    However, this adjustment does not change access to the system according to the profession practised. Nevertheless, while no sector is explicitly excluded from the copyright regime, the new scope will be severely limited, leading to the disappearance of the regime in a number of professions;
  2. The law now provides for a cap on the level of taxation. From 2023, copyright transfer remuneration may not exceed 30% of the total remuneration, which includes remuneration for services rendered. The surplus will be treated as professional income. Moreover, the average income from the remuneration for copyright transfers or licensing over the last four years may not exceed the absolute limit of EUR 64.070.

In addition, protected computer programmes are excluded from the scope of the tax regime.

Although the entry into force of the new copyright regime is scheduled for 1 January 2023, a transitional regime of one year (revenue year 2023, tax year 2024) is introduced to give recipients and debtors of income from copyright transfers or licensing time to adapt to the provisions of this new regime.

16. Conclusion

Most of the measures have already entered into force on 1 January 2023, others still require some legislative and practical adjustments to take full effect.

We will keep you informed about this.

Would you like to learn more about this subject?

Contact our experts or telephone +32 (0)2 747 40 07
Leila Mstoian

Leila Mstoian

Youssra Andaloussi

Youssra Andaloussi

Senior Associate