Working as a salaried employee in Belgium or hiring foreign personnel

Working as a salaried employee in Belgium or hiring foreign personnel

You are an EU citizen

As an EU citizen, you have the right to work in Belgium i.e. you do not need a work permit.

You are not an EU citizen but want to work as a salaried employee in Belgium? You want to employ non-EU nationals?

Our services: the Halabi & Associates law firm can liaise with the company that intends to hire you and help it obtain your work permit. Do not hesitate to get in touch whether you are an employee or employer.

What you need to know about the work permit, the exemptions and the single permit

The law dated 9 May 2018 now has a new procedure i.e. combing the work permit and the residence permit in a single application and a single permitThis law is a transposition – admittedly late – of the 2011/98/EU Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council dated 13 December 2011 relating to the single application procedure for a single permit for third-country nationals to reside and work in a Member State.

This new single application process will apply to all applications for work permits for over 90 days. Certain categories of workers wishing to work in Belgium for less than three months will have to obtain a work permit beforehand (i.e. not a single permit, which only applies to work periods over 90 days).

The single permit is both a work permit and a residence permit. Hence, they are inextricably linked. Consequently, the validity of one affects the validity of the other.

Important: this new law will not regularise the stay of persons who are in an illegal situation in the country and thus does not concern them. It is only a simplified administrative procedure for obtaining a previously authorised work permit (see below).

I- Persons authorised to work

This authorisation to work is a legal right. Therefore, the employer and worker do not have to complete any formalities. An indication on the single permit is all that is necessary.

It is the employer’s duty to check that the foreign worker meets all the conditions of the exemption. If this is the case, the Belgian employer can immediately hire the foreign worker..

In order to work as a foreign worker, you must meet two conditions:

  1. You must already have a valid residence permit and be legally allowed to stay in Belgium. This work permit exemption does not replace the mandatory residence permit!
  2. You fall into one of the categories of specific workers as set out in articles 4 to 20 of the royal decree dated 2 September, 2018 implementing the law dated 9 May, 2018 relating to the occupation of foreign nationals in a particular residency situation.

To learn about the different categories, please click on the following link: List of exempt categories

II-  The different categories of work permits

If you do not belong to one of the categories of workers legally entitled to work because of the administrative status (see previous paragraph), you will have to obtain a work permit beforehand.

There are different categories:

1)  unlimited single permit:

the unlimited single permit is valid for an unlimited time period for all employers and all paid professions in Belgium. This is only granted to foreign nationals who have worked for at least four years (with a work permit B) over a period of up to ten years of uninterrupted legal residency in Belgium immediately preceding the application. In some cases, this required work period can be shortened (e.g. depending on the family situation). Certain categories of workers who were employed on a work permit B (e.g. highly qualified personnel, trainees, etc.) can not apply for a work permit A

2) work permit B:

the Belgian employer must apply for an occupation permit for all foreign workers i.e. who are not exempt from a work permit or who do not possess a work permit A.

However, this authorisation will only be granted if the worker falls into certain categories provided for under the current regulations.

Therefore, an application for a single permit must be submitted by the employer to the worker’s Region of occupation.

More information about the single permit

3) European Blue Card

In the context of Belgian law, the European Blue Card (EBC) is a residence permit that authorises (in certain conditions) its holder to stay and work for over three months in Belgium.

To be hired by a Belgian employer in the context of the European Blue Card, three conditions must be met:L’employeur doit avoir conclu un contrat de travail à durée indéterminée ou d’une durée égale ou supérieure à un an;

  • the employer must have concluded a valid permanent employment contract with a duration of at least one year;
  • meet or exceed the minimum annual salary threshold of 53,971 EUR (amount valid on 01/01/2019);
  • hold a diploma issued by a higher education institute and recognised as such by the government in the country where the institute is established.

Certain categories of workers are excluded

In order to benefit from the European Blue Card:

  • the employer must apply for a temporary occupation permit from the relevant Region and
  • the foreign worker must apply for a Blue Card from the Office des Etrangers.

III – Focus on the work permit and single permit

Generally, the occupation permit is only granted if it is not possible to find a suitable candidate in the Belgian labour market in a reasonable time frame even by offering adequate professional training.

Moreover, the foreign worker must be a national of a country with which Belgium is bound by international labour agreements except in the case of a worker belonging to a special category as set out in article 9 of the royal decree dated 9 June 1999 (see below).

If this is not the case, the occupation permit application may be rejected. It will then be up to the employer to file an appeal with the Regional Minister of Employment by requesting an exemption on valid economic and social interest grounds.

For more information, read our article on work permits and the single permit

Useful links

Growth jobs and jobs experiencing labour shortages
Bruxelles Formation
Seek A Job