Learn about the Belgian minimum wage and the average salary you can expect to earn as an expat in Belgium
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 highest in the EU.
Minimum wage in Belgium in 2019
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 minimum wage in 2019 is €1,593.80 a month, or €19,126 a year (taking into account 12 pay periods). This marks a 2% rise (around €31 a month) on 2018’s level.
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.
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 role 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 in 2019:
- Metal, machinery and construction workers
- Food industry
- Cleaning industry
- Building sector
- Furniture and wood processing
Employees who are unsure of whether their industry belongs to a collective agreement can contact the Social Legislation Inspectorate via e-mail at SPOC.LabourInspection@employment.belgium.be.
Average salary in Belgium
According to data from the Average Salary Survey website, the average gross salary in Belgium is €61,357 a year, or €37,923 after tax.
High paying jobs include the following:
- Company director: €129,150
- HR manager: €96,450
- Project manager: €76,900
- Manager: €74,000
- IT project manager: €65,500
- Financial analyst: €58,900
- Software engineer: €55,150
- Research engineer: €46,139
- Engineer: €46,030
Gender pay gap in Belgium
Figures released by the OECD in cite Belgium as having one of the lowest gender pay gaps in Europe, at just 3.7%. This compares very favourably to the EU average of 19.1% – and in the public sector, women in Belgium are paid more on an hourly basis than men.
How does salary in Belgium compare?
The minimum wage in Belgium is among the best in the European Union, with only Luxembourg (€2,071), Ireland (€1,656) and the Netherlands (€1,616) paying a higher minimum wage to adult workers.
In addition to having one of the highest minimum wages in Europe, Belgium also has labor 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 labor 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 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.