Flexible Employment of Students: New Rules

As a general rule, every employee, even if a student, must pay social security contributions (13.07 %) to the National Social Security Office (Rijksdienst voor Sociale Zekerheid/Office national de sécurité sociale) in order to finance health insurance, pensions, unemployment, child allowances and other social benefits.

However, a student may be exempt from these social security contributions, and be responsible only for the payment of a solidarity premium, if specific conditions are satisfied. The solidarity premium amounts to 8.13%, of which 5.42% is payable by the employer and 2.71% is payable by the student. Students employed under a student contract were entitled to work at highly reduced employers' labour costs if they worked a maximum of 50 working days per calendar year.

Since 1 January 2017, the 50 days in which students may work with reduced social security contributions have been converted to 475 hours per calendar year, which is the equivalent of almost 60 working days. Moreover, specific sectors in which students only worked on a part-time basis should no longer take account of a full day of employment but only the number of hours actually performed by the students. This enhanced flexibility is expected to benefit both employers and students.

The changes came into effect following a modification of the regulatory framework comprised of:

  • the Law of 1 December 2016 modifying the Royal Decree of 5 November 2002 (Wet van 1 december 2016 tot wijziging van het Koninklijk Besluit van 5 november 2002 tot invoering van een onmiddellijke aangifte van tewerkstelling/Loi du 1er décembre 2016 modifiant l’arrêté royal du 5 novembre 2002 instaurant une déclaration immédiate de l’emploi);
  • Royal Decree of 13 December 2016 modifying article 17bis of the Royal Decree of 28 November 1969 (Koninklijk Besluit van 13 december 2016 tot wijziging van artikel 17bis van het Koninklijk Besluit van 28 november 1969 betreffende de maatschappelijke zekerheid der arbeiders/Arrêté royal du 13 décembre 2016 modifiant l'article 17bis de l'arrêté royal du 28 novembre 1969 concernant la sécurité sociale des travailleurs).