Belgium's 'fake-independent' workers face crackdown

19th January 2004, Comments 0 comments

19 January 2004, BRUSSELS – The Belgian government has pledged to crack down on firms who oblige full-time staff to work on a self-employed basis.

19 January 2004

BRUSSELS – The Belgian government has pledged to crack down on firms who oblige full-time staff to work on a self-employed basis.

Many expatriate workers in Belgium often complain of being forced into precisely this kind of employment situation.

Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt announced he move after this weekend’s two-day government brainstorming meeting at a castle near the city of Gembloux in Wallonia.

Verhofstadt said his government was determined to tackle the issue of so-called ‘fake independent’ workers. These are people who in reality work for a single company but are obliged by their employers to register as self-employed with the Belgian authorities.

Employers do this because self-employed staff are considerably cheaper than workers with employee status.

In the future, said Verhofstadt, the authorities would closely scrutinise employment conditions in Belgian firms. If a person was clearly only working for one company but was being forced to register as self employed then the state would oblige their employer to draw up a proper employment contract. The firm would also have to pay social security contributions for the new employee, the Prime Minister added.

There is a catch in Verhofstatdt’s plan however. If a fake independent worker is happy with his or her situation, their boss will not have to offer employee status. Many analysts say this could lead to situation where firms lean heavily on self-employed workers to say they are content if anyone asks.

Verhofstadt’s announcement formed part of a wider plan to improve the status of self-employed people in Belgium. The government is also planing to increase health and pension cover for independent workers, although it has not yet fully explained how it intends to finance the improvements.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Belgian news

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