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 have a national minimum wage or set wages on an industry level through collective agreements, Belgium’s minimum wages operate on both levels. The government reviews the minimum wage in Belgium bi-annually, and it consistently ranks among the highest in the EU.
Minimum wage in Belgium in 2019
Committees across different sectors agree on the minimum wage in Belgium, 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 operates on a monthly basis rather than an hourly one. If you’re paid on an hourly or weekly basis, you’ll must 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 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. The exact minimum wage depends on the following factors:
- Where the job is: 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 [email protected]
Average salary in Belgium
According to data from the Average Salary Survey website, the average gross salary in Belgium is €61,357 a year. This is €37,923 after taxes.
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 from the OECD cite Belgium as having one of the lowest gender pay gaps in Europe (3.7%). This compares favorably to the EU average of 19.1%. In the public sector, women in Belgium earn 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. Only Luxembourg (€2,071), Ireland (€1,656), and the Netherlands (€1,616) have a higher minimum wage for adult workers.
In addition to having one of the highest minimum wages in Europe, Belgium’s labor laws are also quite strong, protecting the rights of workers at a national level.
Employers in Belgium must pay their staff at least once a month. Manual workers receive payment twice a month. They must also provide a payslip to the employee for each payment they make.
Employers must provide a yearly account of the total amount they’ve paid their workers. 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 labor agreements offer a greater allowance in addition to the 10 annual Belgian national holidays.