Learn about the Belgian minimum wage and the average salary you can expect to earn, which can help guide your salary negotiations in Belgium as an expat.
If you’re looking for jobs in Belgium or want to negotiate your salary, being aware of Belgium’s minimum wage levels and average salaries for certain industries provides a good base.
While many countries in Europe either operate with a state minimum wage or set wages on an industry level through collective agreements, Belgium’s minimum wages operate on both levels. The minimum wage in Belgium is reviewed biannually, and consistently ranks among the top five highest minimum wages in the EU.
What is the minimum wage in Belgium?
The minimum wage in Belgium is agreed by committees in different sectors, meaning wage legislation varies between industries. For industries that don’t have a minimum wage set by their committees, the nationwide Belgian minimum wage applies.
The Belgian minimum wage levels since 1 June 2016 are:
- €1,590.64 – employees at least 20 years old with 12 months of experience
- €1,572.58 – employees at least 19 years old with 6 months of experience
- €1,531.93 – employees aged 18 or over.
In 2017, the Belgian government also accepted an inter-professional salary agreement for the next two years. The agreement states that wages can rise up to 1.1% above inflation, as well as raises the age for taking pre-pension, although in smaller steps than the government originally wanted.
The minimum wage in Belgium is decided on a monthly basis rather than an hourly one, so if you are paid on an hourly or weekly system instead, you’ll need to work out your salary pro-rata based on a 38-hour working week.
Net Belgian minimum wage – after tax
Income tax in Belgium is calculated in brackets. As a worker in Belgium, you’ll need to pay both social security contributions and income tax. Read more in our guides on Belgian taxes, expenses and tax deductions and calculating your tax burden in Belgium.
Minimum wage for internships in Belgium
If you have an internship in Belgium and are aged over 21, you should be given an allowance of at least €751 per month and have a contract specifying the exact job roles and training you will undertake. Some Belgian companies have faced accusations of exploiting trainees by making them work normal jobs with full-time hours, without paying them the standard Belgian national minimum wage – and in some cases offering completely unpaid internships.
Minimum wage in Belgium by sector
Many industries set their own minimum wages in Belgium based on collective agreements within their sectors.
Understanding these agreements isn’t always easy, however, as the exact minimum wage you’ll be paid can depend on the following factors:
- Where the job is located: Belgium is split into provinces on some parts of minimum wage legislation, which means you might be paid a different amount depending on where you live.
- Your role: Some sectors split roles in to ‘classes’ of seniority, and the minimum wage varies accordingly.
- The hours you work per week: Minimum wages in some industries vary based on how many hours you work per week.
- How long you’ve done the job: Some sectors set different wages for new starters and those who have been in their role for more than six months or a year.
The following industries in Belgium offer guidance documents where you can find full details of Belgium’s minimum wage rules:
Employees who are unsure of whether their industry belongs to a collective agreement can contact the Social Legislation Inspectorate via email at SPOC.LabourInspection@employment.belgium.be
Average salary in Belgium
In 2017, a study on average Belgian wages was published by Vacature.com and Leuven University (available in Dutch). In their report, the average wage in Belgium was calculated at €3,401 per month (before tax), or around €2,000–2,200 per month after tax, depending on the situation.
Many employees also earned fringe benefits; for example, 75% of workers in Belgium were paid a 13th month of salary, more than 40% had access to a company car and some 65 percent had hospital insurance. The hospitality sector generally ranked as having the lowest average monthly salaries, around €2,676 per month, while the best paying jobs were found in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors at an average wage of €4,279 per month.
Wages in Belgium could rise this year. According to research by the Korn Ferry Hay Group (KFHG), Belgium companies were anticipating wage increases of 3.1% in 2018 – compared to 2.5% in Germany and 1.7% in France.
Gender pay gap in Belgium
Separate figures released by the OECD in 2017 cite Belgium as having one of the lowest gender pay gaps in Europe, at just 3.3%. This compares very favourably to the EU average of 19.2% – and in the public sector, women in Belgium are paid more on an hourly basis than men.
According to a FPS Economy report released in 2016, CEOs of large companies topped the list of the highest paid professions in Belgium, followed by managerial positions across Belgium’s main sectors. The jobs attracting the highest average salaries in Belgium wages were listed as follows:
- Company CEOs – €8,610 per month
- ICT managers – €6,725 per month
- Business and administrative managers – €6,527
- Marketing and sales managers – €5,841
- Manufacturing, logistics and construction managers – €5,702
- Statisticians, mathematicians and actuaries
- Retail and wholesale trade managers
- Electro technology engineers
How does salary in Belgium compare?
The minimum wage in Belgium is among the best in the European Union, with only Luxembourg (€1,999), Ireland (€1,614) and the Netherlands (€1,578) paying a higher minimum wage to adult workers.
In addition to having one of the highest minimum wages in Europe, Belgium also has labour laws in place to protect the rights of workers at a national level.
Employers in Belgium must pay their staff at least once a month, or twice a month if they’re a manual worker. They must also provide a payslip to the employee for each payment they make.
To ensure the Belgian minimum wage is being paid, employers must provide a yearly account of the total amount they’ve paid their workers (similar to a P50 in the UK). The labour inspectorate can access this record to check that employers are abiding by the rules.
Belgium operates a maximum 40-hour working week, although working hours are usually 38 hours a week. Employees in Belgium are entitled to 24 days of holiday each year, although some collective labour agreements offer a greater allowance in addition to the 10 annual Belgian national holidays. Read more in our guide to vacation leave in Belgium.