Expatica news

Work permit abuse leads totighter foreign labour laws

23 December 2005

BRUSSELS — The Belgian government is expected to decide on Friday to sharpen restrictions on labour immigration.

All foreign workers who move to Belgium will be obligated in future to register with the regional labour market authority.

The decision comes amid revelations large ICT firms frequently abuse the work permit system to import cheap labour from India with a tourist visa (Cap Gemini) or employ skilled expats to do simple tasks (Hewlett Packard).

The social inspectorate has launched an investigation into the actions of both companies, newspaper ‘De Morgen’ reported on Friday.

The obligation for expat workers to register will also be extended to foreigners who start a traineeship or undergo studies in Belgium. The regulation might also apply to business professionals who only visit Belgium for a few days.

Currently, the latter group does not need to register with a government authority, but can enter the country on a tourist or business visa.
Besides compulsory registration, the legal necessity to apply for a work permit will remain in force the employers of most foreign workers. That obligation will only be lifted for a small number of researchers and skilled expats.

“We want to ease the employment of academics and ‘knowledge workers’ and at the same time sharpen controls,” Employment Minister Peter Vanvelthoven said.

Workers employed in a university or company to perform research and earn a minimum wage of EUR 42,000 per year will no longer need a work permit in future.

However, this is based on the condition that while working in Belgium they earn the same wage as Belgian colleagues and that their salary is attuned to the work they perform.

The work permit exemption will only apply to a specific task and for a period of two years. It must be only linked to one company.
However, Vanvelthoven admitted that companies might still try in future to avoid the need to apply for a work permit for staff by employing knowledge workers as normal staff.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news