Labor Law

The minimum wage and average salaries in Belgium

Learn about the Belgian minimum wage and the average salary you can expect to earn in Belgium across different industries and regions.

Belgium minimum wage
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Updated 9-5-2024

When looking for a job in Belgium, salary is an essential consideration. Not only do you need to make sure you can afford the cost of living, but your new employer must pay you at least minimum wage and follow other labor laws.

Thankfully, for those thinking of moving there, Belgium has one of the highest minimum wages in Europe. The lower limit of your income depends on several criteria, such as your sector, but there is a national baseline that every industry must meet. Keep reading to find out what you should be paid in Belgium, including information on the following topics:

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What is the minimum wage in Belgium?

The national monthly minimum wage in Belgium in 2023 is €1,954.99. The National Labour Council (Nationale Arbeidsraad/Conseil National du Travail – NAR/CNT) sets this rate, which is usually indexed once per year in December. Meanwhile, part-time workers can calculate their minimum income based on a 38-hour working week.

Although this baseline minimum wage exists, there is no law in Belgium stipulating it. Rather, joint committees for each industry decide on pay, and the rate applies to everyone working in the field. However, salary may not go below the national Guaranteed Minimum Monthly Income (gewaarborgd minimumloon/Revenu Minimum Mensuel Garanti – GGMMI/RMMG). In addition, if a sector does not set a lower wage boundary, it must abide by the national minimum.

People protesting against the high cost of living
Protest against the cost of living in Brussels (Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

As well as being one of the highest minimum wages in the European Union, Belgium performs well among the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. Its labor laws protect workers’ rights, but living costs in the country have risen far faster than wages in recent years.

Who is eligible for Belgium’s minimum wage?

Anyone over 18 working in the private sector must receive at least the national minimum wage. However, aside from the different salaries per sector, workers may find that the minimum differs in some circumstances.

Gig/Self-employed Workers

There is no set minimum wage for self-employed or freelance workers. In addition, ‘platform workers,’ or those working as independent contractors for services such as food delivery and ride-hailing, have no guaranteed minimum salary.

Many gig workers have expressed dissatisfaction with both their working conditions and compensation in recent years, leading the EU to take steps to protect their rights. For instance, they intend to recategorize these workers’ employment status and enhance transparency relating to their data. This could lead to platform workers being eligible for their country’s minimum wage.

Young people

Since 2022, young workers have been entitled to the national stipulated minimum wage. However, there are some situations where under-21s might receive less. When there is no collective bargaining agreement in place for your sector, people between 16 and 20 receive 70–96% of the minimum wage.

Interns and apprentices

Unfortunately for those wanting to gain work experience, Belgium has the highest proportion of unpaid internships in Europe. However, those following a professional immersion internship (convention d’immersion professionelle/beroepsinlevingstage) are entitled to a legal minimum daily allowance of half of the GGMMI/RMMG.

Belgium is among the countries that have received criticism for not providing adequate compensation to interns. This could change sooner or later – Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted in 2023 to improve conditions and remuneration for interns and trainees.

What to do when not being paid the minimum wage in Belgium

Unless detailed above, all employers must pay at least the minimum wage in Belgium. If they pay below this amount, they are breaking the law. First, check with your employer to make sure there hasn’t been an oversight.

If they do not rectify the situation, you have several options. Workers who are trade union members can contact them with a complaint about their employer. However, if the problem persists, you should contact the Directorate General Control on Social Legislation (Algemene Directie Toezicht op de sociale wetten/Direction générale Contrôle des lois sociales). They can investigate and issue a warning to the employer to remedy the situation and pay arrears by a specific deadline.

Cleaners in a government building corridor
Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

In the event that an employer does not comply, they can draw up a report and bring it to the attention of the criminal prosecutor. Finally, the employer may receive a fine for each worker in Belgium paid under the legal minimum wage and, in extreme cases, may even be imprisoned.

Some situations may be beyond the Directorate’s scope of work – in that case, you may need to reach out to the labor court.

What is the average salary in Belgium?

According to statistics agency Statbel, the average income in Belgium is €3,886 per month (September 2023). Nevertheless, the median income is slightly lower, at €3,507, which means half of workers earn less than this. Meanwhile, around 10% of employees receive less than €2,303 per month.

How do salaries in Belgium compare to other countries?

Although Belgium’s gross salaries and minimum wage consistently rank among the highest in Europe, take-home income may be significantly lower. This is because the country has high tax rates and social security contributions. Accordingly, it’s worth weighing up your net pay against the benefits that living in Belgium offers.

Average salary in Belgium by sector

While the general average salary statistics give a broad idea of what you might earn in Belgium, the main aspects that will affect your wage are your position and your industry. Salaries vary wildly across different sectors – the top-paying industries (in Dutch) in Belgium include:

IndustryAverage monthly pay
Petrochemical€6,036
Head offices, business management€5,504
Financial services (excluding insurance and pensions)€5,200
Designing and programming computer programs€5,077
Insurance and pensions€5,004
Mean monthly wages for the highest-paying sectors in Belgium

Additionally, the type of job that you do has a substantial impact on how much you earn. Indeed, Statbel notes that the highest-paid professions in Belgium include:

  • Director
  • Manager
  • Scientist
  • Engineer
  • Lawyer

On the other hand, those working in food and beverages, hospitality, retail, and building and landscaping typically earn 20–30% below the average national salary. The three lowest-paying occupations in Belgium are typically minimum wage roles such as bar staff, hair and beauty specialists, and cleaners.

Average salary in Belgium by job level

Like almost everywhere, average salaries in Belgium rise according to job level. As an illustration, CEOs in the country earn 178% more than other workers (figures from 2021), a mean of €10,788 per month.

Other factors related to job level that might affect how much you earn include:

  • Age: Wages rise with age, especially among white-collar workers. Those over 60 might earn around 183% more than workers under 20.
  • Education level: The average salary for an employee with lower-secondary education was €2,872 in 2021, while master’s graduates could expect to earn €5,726.

Average salary in Belgium by region

There is a clear difference between how much you’ll earn in different regions of Belgium. The average salary is highest in Brussels, at €4,604, 18% higher than the national mean. Those living in Flanders tend to earn more than those in Wallonia, but the cost of living is also higher.

Salary checker in Belgium

If you want to check that your salary is in line with the average for your region, job level, and sector, try exploring sites such as:

Is there a gender pay gap in Belgium?

Unfortunately, like many other countries, Belgium has a gender pay gap. On average, women earn 5% less per hour than men (2021 figures). Moreover, the discrepancy depends greatly on age – women aged 55–64 make around 8.5% less than men. Women under 25 actually earn more than men their age on average, but this is not the case for any other group.

Another factor that affects women’s earnings is which sector they work in. The largest gaps are found in water distribution and information and communication (11.2%). Nevertheless, they earn more than men on average in mineral extraction (-4.1%) and arts, entertainment, and recreation (-0.2%).

Two women having a meeting at work
Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

Compared to other countries in Europe, Belgium does relatively well. It has the fifth-smallest pay gap in the EU, and the difference in wages is smaller than the bloc average (12.7%).

Although Belgium still has a pay gap, the country is attempting to combat it in several ways. For example, all companies with more than 50 employees must supply statistics on the gender pay gap within their organization.

What do international workers earn in Belgium?

Internationals from the European Economic Area (EEA) living in Belgium are entitled to the same minimum wage as Belgians. However, those from outside require a work permit, and several categories of workers have a separate legal minimum. As of 2023, these are the minimum legal annual salaries for these types of employees:

Brussels RegionWalloniaFlanders
Highly skilled employees€47,174€47,175€45,984*
Managers€78,704€78,704€73,574
Intra-corporate transferee (specialist)€48,798€48,799€45,984
Intra-corporate transferee (trainee)€30,499€30,499€45,984
Intra-corporate transferee (manager)€60,998€60,998€73,574
EU Blue Card€60,998€60,998€55,181
TraineeMinimum salary for the sectorMinimum salary for the sectorSufficient means of existence
Medium-skilled employees in bottleneck professionsN/AN/AMinimum salary for the sector
Source: KPMG. *If you have a contract with a Belgian employer and are under 30 or working as a nurse, your minimum wage may be €36,787.20.

You can read more about the allowances and requirements for different foreign workers on the official websites of Flanders, Wallonia, and the Brussels region.

What to do if your salary is too low in Belgium

If your employer in Belgium is not paying you the legal minimum wage, you can follow the steps outlined earlier in the article. On the other hand, if your salary is lower than it should be, you still have options.

Firstly, ensure you know your labor rights, your sector’s bargaining agreement, and the average salary for your position. Keep a record of your salary and your responsibilities at work. You can then take this to your employer and discuss your concerns with them. However, if that does not get results, you can also contact the trade union for your sector or an employment lawyer for advice.

However, if you suspect your employer of discriminatory wage practices, there are other ways to escalate the complaint. The Insititute for the Equality of Women and Men has an online form to report discrimination, including salary discrepancies. Additionally, the Directorate General Control on Social Legislation lists contacts relating to labor rights and minimum wage in Belgium.

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